The community policing programme is set to observe its five years of existence on Saturday but it is far from fulfilling the objective of curbing crimes in different neighbourhoods across the country.
Bangladesh Police had launched Community Policing in 2016 with the slogan "People are police, police are people", aiming to curb crimes and make people aware of various crimes such as repression of women and children, militancy and narcotics.
A 31-member civilian committee was formed at every district, upazila and union across the country as part of the programme, tasking them with informing law enforcers about crimes in their respective neighbourhoods.
The Business Standard talked with at least 10 district and upazila level committees, which say they are actually not much aware of what they have to do and what the community policing is.
Even many of the committees could not give any hints on how many times and when they have informed police regarding local crimes.
The grim picture came to light after a woman was stripped off and raped by some alleged ruling party supporters in Noakhali's Begumganj on the night of 2 September this year.
The irony is the brutal incident surfaced after 32 days only when the perpetrators uploaded the video on social media.
Neither the local community policing committee nor the Noakhali police came to know of the incident before it went viral on Facebook.
Advocate Aktaruzzaman Ansari, president of the Begumganj Upazila community policing committee, told TBS that they are still trying to create awareness among the people regarding women and children's repression prevention.
"It was our bad luck that we could not know the incident before it went viral. But we are still trying to get her justice," he added.
Syed Ziaul Huda Aflu, who has been president of Laxmipur District community policing committee for at least five years, said that they have arranged several awareness programmes and also published advertisements regarding various crimes.
"We have participated in all police programmes in recent years. We also took part in a programme in 2018 in Laxmipur which was attended by the home minister and the inspector general of police," he added.
When asked, if they have informed police about any crimes or criminals, he could not mention any such happenings during his time as president of the committee.
Ziaul Huda said that they have received several awards from the inspector general of police and other departments for their good work.
But, he could not give any detail when this correspondent had asked him about their work which had earned them awards.
As it is a drug prone district, the district community police in Brahmanbaria works more on drugs. As part of this, community police leaders held anti-drug rallies in different parts of the district for years. In the last one year, 10-12 anti-drug rallies were arranged in different upazilas.
Earlier, the community police used to hold rallies to create public awareness on the prevention of violence against women. However, since the opening of the Women's Support Centre for monitoring issues related to violence against women by the district police, the community police has been working only about drugs.
Syed Mizanur Reza, general secretary of Brahmanbaria district community policing committee, said, "To make the general public aware and to keep the youth away from drug addiction, we go to different areas and hold rallies with the help of police."
He admitted that their work is limited to holding rallies and joining police programmes.
In Brahmanbaria too, the committee could not make any success story to prevent any crime or provide police with information about various criminal activities.
According to the Police Headquarters, 60,981 committees, and 11,17,080 civilians are included in the community policing across the country.
Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed has issued a message on the occasion of the community policing day which will be observed on 31 October.
He said the new style of policing that has been launched in Bangladesh will undoubtedly make the trend of community policing innovative and more effective.
"Fulfilling the people's expectations with the cooperation of the people through community policing practice is our firm commitment on Community Policing Day-2020 of Mujib year," he added.
Professor Dr Nehal Karim of sociology at the University of Dhaka told TBS that the activity of the people engaged in community policing should be monitored.
"In many cases, they themselves get involved in crimes and then join the community policing to evade legal actions. That should be monitored strictly," he added.