Ministry of Interior launches 'neighbourhood watch' plan

Ministry of Interior launches 'neighbourhood watch' plan - Central Asia News Afghanistan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Tajikistan Turkmenistan-Sports Business and Entertainment

Rose Taylor

2008-10-16

KABUL, Oct. 6 — Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior is preparing to launch a "neighbourhood watch" programme designed to encourage citizens to participate in the fight against crime in the nation's capital.

If the plan is successful it will be expanded across the country.

Under the programme, mobile phones will be handed out to selected local residents and they will be instructed to dial 119 to reach the police and report any suspicious activities they witness. All calls will be recorded.

The Ministry of Interior has set up the free number in the hope of getting early information about the planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and insurgent activity in Kabul. Officials also hope such information will enable them to respond to threats and reach crime scenes far more quickly than they are able to do currently

Ezmarai Bashari, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, said he is looking to recruit well-educated and reliable local residents for the project. Each participant will receive a mobile phone, phone credits and 1,500 afghanis ($29.60 [USD]) per month for their work.

"We want people to cooperate with us," Bashari said. "In addition, we want information from those people who already have [their own] mobile phones. They can call the police [on 119] and that call would be free."

It has yet to be confirmed when the "neighbourhood watch" scheme will start. Applications to participate are still being sought and then it will take some time to vet them thoroughly, Bashari said.

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