Formal and informal policing in Iraq


Identify literature on improving public security in Iraq through formal and informal policing mechanisms.


Within the literature there seems to be a number of common themes and recommendations:

  • Supporting the judiciary and improving investigative capability: Greater security for the judiciary and improved legal education, improved capacity of lawyers, as well as greater support for investigative capability.
  • Improving police-community relations: This can be through setting up joint committees with representatives from both the police and the community, a shift towards community policing or including greater recruitment of minorities into the police to ensure community representation.
  • Mentorship of police: Perito (2011, 2013) highlights the beneficial role of the Italian national military police – the Carabinieri – in the training and mentorship of Iraqi police.
  • Joint agreement on the role of police: There should be agreement between Iraqi and international stakeholders on the specific role and focus of the police, which avoids the militarisation of police (Perito, 2011).
  • Developing administrative capacity: There needs to be development of the capacity to manage budgets, procure goods and services, and administer and educate its employees (Perito & Kristoff, 2009).
  • Prioritisation and harmonisation of efforts: Rathmell (2007) highlights the need for focusing on key issues such as the abuse and corruption of the police and judiciary and not overloading the system. It is important to support Iraqi-led initiatives rather than imposing international standards.
  • Avoiding private security companies and ethnic militia: The effectiveness of private military companies and private security companies in Iraq has been mixed and there is anecdotal evidence that some Iraqis prefer them over Iraqi security officers who are seen as prone to corruption (Isenberg, 2006). However, their continued use would threaten Iraqi ownership of their security sector in the long-term. The use of ethnic or religious militia was felt unlikely to improve security and possibly detrimental to it (Chapman, 2012).