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UN-backed survey shows improving public perception of Afghan police

Afghan National Police in training in Kabul.
UNAMA/Eric Kanalstein
Afghan National Police in training in Kabul.

UN-backed survey shows improving public perception of Afghan police

Public perception of the police in Afghanistan has improved over the past three years with the proportion of Afghans expressing personal respect for the country’s law enforcement rising to 81 per cent, an eight-point increase since last year, according to a United Nations-funded survey.

Those who consider a career in the police as being prestigious rose to 75 per cent, while 74 per cent have confidence in the force, according to the findings, released yesterday, of last year’s Police Perception Survey, funded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) under the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) project.

Acceptance of women officers is also on the rise with 53 per cent of those surveyed considering it a good idea to have female police in their communities, an increase of eight percentage points from last year.

“This independent survey shows growing public confidence in the police, while also identifying areas of improvement to focus on,” said Interior Minister, General Bismillah Mohammadi. “Much work has gone on but more needs to be done to professionalize the police further, especially in the lead-up to transition, and we will use this report to build on the successes and work on the areas that need improvement.”

The survey of 7,278 Afghans was carried out across all 34 provinces for the country’s Interior Ministry by the Afghan Centre for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research (ACSOR).

It also shows marked regional differences in perception. Ratings have improved significantly in the southwest, where great efforts have been put into security and development. There have also been advances in the central Hazarjat region, and to a lesser extent in the north.

But public perception of the police has deteriorated in some areas, notably in central Kabul and in the eastern and western parts of the country where the rates of crime are high.

Overall the survey highlights that the Afghan National Police’s image has been bolstered by on-going efforts to increase police numbers, increase the force’s effectiveness and enhance its community outreach.

The survey also founds that corruption remains a significant concern, although the incidence of malpractice went down by seven points since 2010, as have other forms of police misconduct, including excessive use of force and perceived bias.