Bangladesh: Police and Youth Unite for a Safer Community

By Md. Sariful Islam

Meetings, lectures and open dialogues among the police and students at different faculties and departments of universities are regularly arranged and they play a significant role to change the negative, generalised perception about police.

Youth involvement in crime has become a painstaking problem for development in Bangladesh. The rate of youth involvement in various crimes is so alarming that it has become a burning topic in the country. Different statistics show that in Bangladesh the number of youth involved in anti-social activities appears to be on the rise. The outcome of such an increasing rate will surely be a prime threat to the social, economic and political arena that will pose a severe threat to sustainable growth of Bangladesh.

Mainly the youths who lack proper education, have less family control, feel estranged in love, and come under peer pressure, mental stress, unemployment, poverty and influence of alien culture through media, improper utilization of leisure time, political exploitation can easily fall down in vulnerable situation through involving themselves in crimes. Along with these factors, deviation from morality, norms and values create an unwholesome environment that shapes the youths’ criminal behavior. All these issues are continuously contributing to the increasing number of the juvenile delinquency. Nowadays, eve-teasing, sexual offences, drug addiction, mugging, theft, possession of illegal arms and explosives, some other law breaking behavior by the youths are very common scenario in the society.

In this regard, DMP-Youth Cooperation Series (DYCS) is a program undertaken by the Asia Foundation to increase cooperation between the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) and young people. The program’s goal is to strengthen public security in the Dhaka metropolitan area through greater cooperation between law enforcement and young people. To contribute to this goal, this program addresses two main objectives that are- improve perceptions of local law enforcement among Dhaka metropolitan university students and increase reporting of crime to local police in Dhaka.

DYCS program aims to bring the youths and police together on the same ground and creates an opportunity for both youth and police to introduce and understand each other to make bridge and reduce the gap among them. It has made a common platform for both the parties where police and youths sit together and talk about their distance and how the distance can be reduced. They also discuss on ways to help each other and learn about the laws and regulations regarding crime reporting and other issues.

Under this initiative, police and university students are partner in the design and implementation of joint action plans aimed at enhancing public security and police-citizen relations through increased collaborative activities and information-sharing across the two groups. This initiative has the potential to create a replicable model that impacts not only its target audience of university students, but also the adults and other young people that form part of their wider networks. Under this initiative, police and university students work collaboratively to have a better understanding and ameliorate the current youth-police relationship. Various initiatives under this program like workshops, seminars, lectures, trainings, contests, competitions, open discussions and campaigns are being arranged to bring the police officials and the students under the same umbrella to have a more concrete knowledge and understanding of the existing Police-Youth relationship. The active participation of the youths and police in different events of the program will spread the gained knowledge and expertise to other members of the youth organizations and police.

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Volunteering in social work is always a ground for the volunteers to know each other closely and through different activities under DYCS program, the police and the youths are working hand in hand as volunteers and bringing them on the same ground that makes a space to understand each other. It also brings them more close to know everyone’s side through introducing themselves with each other, sharing views and understanding the youth-police nexus.

It is important to have a face to face orientation among the youths and police for sharing views, understanding the unknown aspects of both sides through question-answer session, collaborative plans to ameliorate the current situation. Considering the importance, DYCS prorgam provides the opportunity to the students to talk to the police and share their views and vice versa the police hear the voice of the youths. Thus meetings, lectures and open dialogues among the police and students at different faculties and departments of the universities are regularly arranged and it goes without saying that such meetings, lectures and dialogues play very significant role to change the negative generalized perception about police. It creates a cooperative atmosphere among the youths and police which is very significant for a sustainable and effective cooperation among them. We strongly believe such initiative will contribute to bring a positive change in our society.

The police benefit from the information that youths provide and the youths are better off with a police force that does not feel it needs to rely on heavy-handed tactics to gather information. Hence it is very important for youths to provide information to police and cooperate with the police to make a better community through creating a better network with police. DYCS program activities aim to increase communication and bridge the gap between youth and police, while simultaneously increasing the crime reporting among participating youth through an Android mobile app developed by DMP. Information shared by the youth on any crime-related issue can greatly benefit the police by making our community safer. The name of the app is “Dhaka Metropolitan Police: DMP” and can be searched through Play Store of Android phones. It provides the phone numbers of Officers In-Charge (OC) and Duty Officers of all 51 DMP police stations. Anyone can use the app to inform the police about any crime, including violence against women or other important information, such as accidents, fire etc.

There is no denying the fact that such an initiative will be a catalyst to make a strong collaboration among the youths and police that will help both the parties to make a better and peaceful society.

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The DYCS program is also successful in developing a sense of responsibility and respect among participating police and youth and in creating awareness about the importance of youth-police cooperation to build a safe community.

(The author works for the Asia Foundation)