BUILDING TRUST IN SECURITY FORCES
SECURITY AND PEACE – SINCE THE OUTBREAK OF THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR, THIS HOPE SEEMS TO HAVE RECEDED INTO THE FAR DISTANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THE REGION THEREFORE NEEDS ALL THE MORE SUPPORT IN ESTABLISHING A CIVIL ORDER THAT GIVES PEOPLE LEGAL CERTAINTY AND STABILITY.
POLICE REFORM IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
Protecting people from crime, mediating conflicts, ensuring safety and security – all these are part of the traditional duties of the police. But the population will only respect the police if they manage to perform these tasks while upholding people’s rights. Before a police force can succeed in all this, it needs sound training, an understanding of the rule of law, and modern equipment.
These are precisely the areas being addressed by police reform in the Palestinian territories, where the 8,000 or so police officers are receiving support. On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, GIZ has been supporting the Ministry of Interior of the Palestinian National Authority since 2010 in its efforts to make the work of the police force more professional and responsive to the needs of the people.
GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE – WITH MOBILE POLICE STATIONS
Mobile police stations are an excellent example of responsiveness to people’s needs. The mobile stations, which are actually police vehicles with a separate office section, only a few square metres in size, are to be used in areas which have hitherto had no regular police presence – in isolated rural parts of the West Bank.
Since November 2016, between five and seven police officers (always including at least one female officer) have been visiting the villages in the northern district of Tulkarem with the first mobile police station, following a predetermined schedule. The mobile police station tells the people, ‘We are here for you. Talk to us.’
MODERN POLICE STATIONS AS A MODEL
GIZ has also been involved in building permanent police stations and has developed a concept for a modern model police station. Since the police programme was launched in 2010, twelve police stations have been constructed along with a special station in Jericho, where recruits undergo training. Eight of the new stations were built using EU funding. The new stations are already serving as a model for other international donors interested in establishing more police stations in the West Bank.
As well as building new stations and fitting them out with modern equipment, GIZ is helping its Palestinian partners draw up a comprehensive organisational concept, embracing all 70 police stations in the West Bank. The main focus is on how the police should operate. Together the two sides have produced a standard training plan for police recruits, which introduces standards for police work at local level. Since then, police cadets have been able to refer to a precise job description and standardised work processes.
But that is not all: to build confidence in the security forces and help ensure that the forces of law and order are seen by the people as their ‘friends and helpers’, police stations and local authority representatives have agreed to step up communication and information work. These confidence-building measures focus in particular on women and young people, informing them how the police operate and how they can contact the police in an emergency.
Alongside GIZ, a large number of other German and international partners are involved in the police reform. The German Federal Ministry of the Interior is advising the Palestinian partners on matters relating to the strategic orientation of the police. Germany’s federal police force, for its part, has been actively involved in the fields of document security and facility protection for years, while the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is providing important assistance in basic training for criminal investigations, crime scene work, and narcotics control. It is currently advising the Palestinian side on the introduction of well-founded crime statistics.
Finally, the EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS) is also supporting the police and the criminal law system in the Palestinian territories. The common goal that underlies all these coordinated activities is to enable the police to do a good job, thus boosting the trust of the people in the police as an institution and improving security.