Researcher / Policy Analyst
Security and Terrorism
Middle East

Locating the local police in Iraq’s security arena: community policing, the ‘three Ps’ and trust in Ninawa Province

Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

This paper focuses on how the role of the local police is perceived in two districts in Mosul: Hay al-Tanak, a Sunni neighborhood in the west side of Mosul. And Hamdaniya, which is a multi-ethnic district with 80% Assyrian Christian and other minorities.


Journal article: Locating the local police in Iraq’s security arena: community policing, the ‘three Ps’ and trust in Ninawa Province (2022)
Peer Reviewed


This empirical data collection used a qualitative approach, combining focus groups and interviews.

We conducted more than 37 interviews and one focus group with people in Mosul. The study focused on the role of the police and how the people see the community police because the community police were established only after ISIS. Therefore when established, people didn't know the community police.



This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

  • For development
  • For Conflict Resolution & Peacebuilding
  • Iraq
  • community police
  • policing
  • post-conflict
  • security arena

Key points

  • There are only 60 community police personnel in Nineveh – that is 60 representatives for 4 million people, working over very large areas. This is not enough.

In this paper, we mention the three “P’s” related to preventing crime in Mosul.

The first is problem-solving, an approach used by the police to identify problems. Citizens in Mosul don’t have the knowledge to differentiate between what crime or problems need to be reported to whom. Crimes may be addressed by the law, judges, or the police, but problems are solved by the community police.

The second ‘P’ is related to preventing crime.

And the third ‘P’ is police-public partnerships, specifically the police in Ninawa. The partnership is important because, before the city was liberated, there was a significant gap between the citizens and the police security. However, after the liberation, trust between the community and the police is high – if compared to what is was before.

The purpose of this research was to gain insight to share recommendations with the police, community police, and the federal government to help advance community policing.


  • There are many indicators that increased trust between the community and the police.

    One main indicator is that the Iraqi Government chose a good commander for peace security, instead of the past commander who the citizens didn't like mainly due to the new commander's rules for security and the new attitude by the police. The federal government chose the right people for the right places. The head of security in Ninawa, who is from Mosul, is now the governor of Mosul. I think that was enough for people to like him. There is now a high level of trust between citizens and community policing.

  • Secondly, the people felt that if there was any gap between security and the citizen, terrorism or other malicious activities could return to the city.
  • Thirdly, many of the community police officers are from Mosul and who already had good relationships with the citizens.
  • And also the international organisations and local NGOs have played a good role in bridging the gap between the citizens and security.

    Additionally, many journalists and media outlets, such as TV channels, YouTube, and Facebook, played a role in bridging the gap between security and the citizens. I believe these factors increased trust between the security forces.

What it means

Police are funded by the local government, while community police are a unit managed by the Ministry of Interior, directly reporting to Baghdad. The community police work to solve problems in Nineveh without involving the police. If they can’t solve the problem, they send it to the police. So the community police handle smaller issues, and the police solve crime.

After 2003 in Iraq, the country’s leaders didn’t have any strategic visions for security, economy, politics, or climate, and corruption increased. Between 2003 and 2008, the Ministry of Interior was managed by militias, and there was a lack of a cohesive plan for the country.

The situation is different in various parts of Iraq. People can move from one area to another, but there are many security agencies in Iraq. It’s complicated, and each city or province is managed by different security groups. This needs to change, but it’s related to political parties and not the role of NGOs or the international community.

In recent times, international and local NGOs have played an important role in supporting community policing throughout Iraq, especially the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This has led to positive changes and increased stability in the region.

But the capacity of the community police is currently small. There are only 60 community police representatives for a very large region of over 4 million people.

In Mosul, there is a greater trust in community police. However, there remains some challenges related to women, especially in dealing with the police. If women encounter challenges or issues, they often don’t have the ability to seek help due to traditions. This percentage may have reduced over time, but some traditions still prevent women from joining the police, becoming officers, or being part of community police in certain areas.

In other areas like Hamdaniya, women have the ability to join the police, but there is no opportunity from the government. In some areas, like Hay al-Tanak, it’s considered shameful for people to go to the police if they have a problem.

In places like Hay al-Tanak, citizens are educated but have no job opportunities. In these areas, some people might choose to solve problems on their own, using weapons.

How to use

  • Involving women would support security and provide equal opportunities for women in government sectors
  • To engage women in community policing, it's important to support advocacy campaigns, establish local community police forums managed by women, and support projects led by local NGOs managed by women
  • First, raise awareness in the community and educate community leaders, religious leaders, and others about the importance of having women in the police
  • We need to change the police from the military police to the community police


Thank you to KPSRL

These insights were made available thanks to the support of KPSRL, who are committed to the dissemination of knowledge for all.


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al-Jerba, Abdulkareem Mohammed. 'Locating the local police in Iraq’s security arena: community policing, the ‘three Ps’ and trust in Ninawa Province'. Acume.