The Afghan National Police, ANP, are the vanguard of defense 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.
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 Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, a non-governmental organization founded in 2003, 74% of Afghanis have confidence in ANP abilities. That figure has grown since 2010 by three points.
A similar number of Afghans have a favorable opinion of police, a figure that’s roughly held steady since the organizations 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 be 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), where 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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