Sharp drop in crime rate in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI — After winning the hearts and minds of the public, the Community Police in Abu Dhabi have also managed to reduce the crime rate remarkably, a top official has said.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Sat 15 Jul 2006, 1:08 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:11 PM

"Community police is doing remarkably well. Since our launch about two years ago, the crime rate has dropped significantly, thanks to the high level of trust we have won from local residents and others," said Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Ahmed Al Hosani, Director of the Community Policing Department of Abu Dhabi Police.

Community policing was introduced in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in 2004, with the aim of promoting better police-community partnerships and problem-solving strategies. The idea being: To address the root causes of crime and fear, the relationship between community and law enforcement, as well as other community issues, explained Lt.-Col. Hosani, in an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times.

He said the concept of community policing had helped law-enforcement agencies to understand the dynamics of the local community which, in turn, helped in preventing and controlling crime and disorder.

With the deployment of more foot patrols, the crime rate has gone down significantly in various neighbourhoods.

"The concept of community policing is a different way of looking at policing. By acknowledging that, the whole community is responsible for public safety and security — not just the police, this concept allows us to build public confidence and go beyond the symptoms of whatever social issue or case we are dealing with," explained Lt.-Col. Hosani.

He also noted that one of the most effective tools at the individual level is social control. "Personal conscience is the key element in ensuring self-control and refraining from deviant behaviour."

Commenting on the mechanism of work, Lt.Col Hosani said the department had entered into a partnership with the municipality, governmental institutions, expatriate communities and clubs. More foot patrols have been deployed on the streets and specialised training is being provided to the force to enable it to effectively prevent crime and ensure that the public feels safe.

He said the focus on tackling recurrent problems in society such as road accidents, rescue and ambulance services, social support etc. Lt.-Col. Hosani said Lt.-Gen. Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, personally supervises the application of these models of policing.

"Earlier, for instance, the ambulance used to reach the accident scene late and may have resulted in the death of the victim. But now, luckily, the number of fatal accidents has dropped significantly, with the introduction of the new models of policing which makes it more flexible for members of the public to provide assistance at the scene," he added.

Community policing encompasses under its umbrella the Social Support Centre which helped solve the problem of under-age camel jockeys. There are now six Community Policing Centres in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi one each in Rahba, Bani Yas, Shabiya, Al Madina in Traif, Al Jimi in Al Ain, and Al Madina in Al Ain. In the area of social support, Lt.-Col. Hosani said community policing also helps in many cases relating to family or domestic problems. "We are also out there to help families who may be afraid of police procedures. Some feel reluctant to report a crime because they are vulnerable."

"We also look after people who have no one else to take care of them. Our teams also provide assistance and support to crime victims," he said. In neighbourhoods, begging (which is a crime) had dropped by 95 per cent after deployment of community police foot patrols. Street vendors have also vanished in these areas.

Moreover, said Lt.-Col. Hosani, literally, there is nothing out of the jurisdiction of community police. Their personnel enjoy full judicial authority to enforce the law.

On the ground, specilised teams have been formed to study most common problems in the community: These include teams for tackling problems related to pedestrian underpasses which have witnessed a series of crimes, teams for neighbourhood problems like noise pollution and risk posed by scooters and other vehicles driven by youths.

Other teams study phenomenons like the rise of thefts during summer holidays in neighbourhoods.

Regarding future plans, Lt-Col Hosani said, "We intend to increase the number of patrols and expand our sphere of public interaction in order to further improve our performance.

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