AFGHANISTAN — Confidence in ANP among Afghans grows

AFGHANISTAN— The Afghan Nation­al Police, ANP, are the van­guard of defence for Afghanistan against the myr­i­ad threats the coun­try faces — Tal­iban recrude­s­cence, crime, cor­rup­tion, to name three. How­ev­er, their effec­tive­ness drops severe­ly if pub­lic con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty is lack­ing amongst the mass­es.

Afghan Nation­al Police staff stand in for­ma­tion at the Nation­al Police Train­ing Cen­ter in War­dak province, Afghanistan
Source: NATO

Lucky for the children/future of the coun­try that the lev­el of con­fi­dence is rising—the peo­ple trust the police. Accord­ing to a sur­vey admin­is­tered by Unit­ed Nations Devel­op­ment Pro­gram, UNDP, and con­duct­ed by Afghan Cen­ter for Socioe­co­nom­ic and Opin­ion Research, a non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tion found­ed in 2003, 74 per­cent of Afgha­nis have con­fi­dence in ANP abil­i­ties. That fig­ure has grown since 2010 by three points. 

A sim­i­lar num­ber of Afghans have a favourable opin­ion of police, a fig­ure that’s rough­ly held steady since the organ­i­sa­tions pre­vi­ous sur­vey last year. 

These num­bers would prob­a­bly not be so impres­sive­ly high if peo­ple did­n’t have a gen­er­al­ly pos­i­tive opin­ion of ser­vice in the police force. If the police did­n’t act in the inter­est of the peo­ple, it is very like­ly that ser­vice with­in the insti­tu­tion would car­ry low, or pos­si­bly even no, prestige. 

Police ser­vice does con­fer upon the serv­er a high degree of respectabil­i­ty. Indeed, a full three quar­ters of all of Afghanistan think of poli­ceper­son as a pres­ti­gious occu­pa­tion, a num­ber, like the oth­ers, up from 2010—by six points. 

The num­ber of Afghans who respect the police, in fact, is even high­er than that. At 81 per­cent, a full four out of every five Afghans you speak to will say they respect the police as a whole, up 8 points from last year. 

Con­tin­u­ing this pos­i­tive trend, the acces­si­bil­i­ty of the police to the pub­lic has also increased. In 2009, slight­ly more than 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion had a police sta­tion with­in 30 min­utes of their home. By 2012, this fig­ure has grown near­ly 20 percent. 

How­ev­er, for all this good news, these fig­ures are for the nation over­all. Nar­row­ing the focus by region, the pic­ture gets more nuanced—but, over­all, just as encouraging. 

In the West, respect has decreased over­all. In the East and Cen­tral South, it has held steady. But in the entire rest of the country—the South­west, Cen­tral Afghanistan/Hazarjat, Cen­tral Kab­ul, and the North— respect for the ANP has increased. 

Part of this increase can almost cer­tain­ly by ascribed to the Afghan Local Police get­ting involved in the com­mu­ni­ty. Though these local watch groups are not exten­sive­ly estab­lished (few­er than one in five Afghans say their com­mu­ni­ties have them), were they have been they’ve shown suc­cess: 61 per­cent of the locals say they feel more secure and safe, though 28 per­cent see no dif­fer­ence, and nine per­cent see a decline in security. 

Shift­ing back to the entire coun­ty, about half of the peo­ple think these groups would help improve secu­ri­ty in their area, and 80 per­cent of them say they’d be will­ing to be a part of such a group. As for the rest, only eight percent—down by ten points—think they’d make secu­ri­ty worse. Over­all, the per­cep­tion of the secu­ri­ty of Afghanistan is devel­op­ing in a very pos­i­tive and encour­ag­ing way. The police are gain­ing the con­fi­dence of the peo­ple they are sup­posed to protect. 

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