Call to renew community policing initiative

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Thato RamarikhoaneBy Limpho Sello

MASERU — Strengthening community policing can help reduce the rate of crime which has since skyrocketed countrywide, police spokesperson Inspector Thato Ramarikhoane said on Tuesday this week.

In an interview with Lesotho Times, Ramarikhoane said although the community policing initiative made a significant positive impact by reducing crime when it started in 2001, they were indications that communities had slackened as seen by the increase in crime.

Although he could not immediately provide crime statistics, he said police were concerned about the increase of crimes such as sexual assaults, murder, assaults and robbery.

“We believe it is only through collaborations with communities that our policing services can continue to improve throughout the country.

“On the other hand, it is important for all people to understand that taking responsibility to prevent crime would benefit the country’s economy and also ensure lawfulness in our communities,” Ramarikhoane said.

The community policing initiative, which started with four pilot projects in Pitseng, Mapholaneng, Matelile and Koro Koro communities from Leribe, Mokhotlong, Mafeteng and  Maseru districts respectively, was introduced by the then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in 2001.

Its key objective was to operate differently in order to reduce crime.

In 2004, community policing was rolled-out in Mabote and Lithoteng in Maseru and Maputsoe before it was introduced to many other areas.

“The project was piloted in a few areas to test whether it would improve interaction and relations between the police and the public.

“It remains important that communities work with the police by providing information, which can lead to quick arrests and also reduce the costs associated with lengthy investigations,” Ramarikhoane said.

He added the initiative, which formulated strong partnership between the police and the communities, also sought to boost levels of trust.

“Trust in the sense that the police can depend on the communities for information and other support and also on the part of the communities to be able to open up with the trust that action would be taken.”

He emphasised the need to re-organise the community policing programme.

“Renewed efforts are being made to ensure full community and police participation to prevent crime and ensure perpetrators are brought to book.”

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