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


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.

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.

Key Findings

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, we 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.

How to use

Involving women would support security and provide equal opportunities for women in government sectors. It would also give women the opportunity to support security in Iraq as a whole. Currently, in Kurdistan, there are many women officers in the police, but in other areas, there aren't many. Involving women in secure environments wouldn't be dangerous for them and would help create positive change.
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. It's also essential to create awareness sessions and dialogue with local NGOs and community police to decrease the gap between women and society.
First, raise awareness in the community and educate community leaders, religious leaders, and others about the importance of having women in the police. Second, create programs focusing on capacity building for women. Third, run advocacy campaigns towards decision-makers to involve women in security policy structures.
We need to change the police from the military police to the community police. This needs time and capacity building for the community, the police, the army, and the leaders is essential for security. Invest in training for a community police role via a university education.

Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

Watkins, Jessica; Abdulkareem Mohammed; Mahdi al-Delaimi. (2022). ‘Locating the local police in Iraq’s security arena: community policing, the ‘three Ps’ and trust in Ninawa Province’. Third World Quarterly, pp.1-17.

About this research

Jessica WatkinsLEAD

Mahdi al-Delaimi

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

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UN Sustainable Development Goals

This research contributes to the following SDGs

About this research

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

This paper was co-authored


Jessica Watkins


Mahdi al-Delaimi

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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.


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.


Community Police
Community police problem-solve, prevent crime and partner with the community. Their role is to solve community-level issues, not crimes.

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