The Afghan National Police needs another three years of training and investment to be turned into a credible force, said a senior British officer. Lieutenant Colonel Jasper de Quincey Adams, chief mentor to the ANP, said a professional force would not be created overnight, but methods such as "embedded partnering", where British and Afghan forces live and work by each other, were making progress.
Asked how long it would take to turn the ANP into a professional body he said: "The ANA (Afghan National Army) is already a credible force and they've had about three years more investment in terms of money, equipment and training than the ANP, so that's probably a good yardstick to use."
Partnering British troops with the ANP came under the spotlight after the shooting dead of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman last week.
Lt Col de Quincey Adams said: "The ANP are the interface between the government and the people. If you've got an unpopular ANP, you've got an unpopular government, so we've got to make sure that's not the case."
He added: "The ANP take more casualties than anyone. They are in very isolated checkpoints where they come under contact from a dedicated enemy, sometimes at night, and they stay and fight. You've got to take your hat off to that. Time after time they step up to the plate. You can't criticise their bravery."
A registration process which began six months ago and is close to completion means every officer must receive the backing of an elder, or person in authority to join up. The intelligence services are then given access to his name and the opportunity to question him.
Policemen are also being tested for drug use and 400 have been thrown out in the past year after failing tests.
Asked about the impact of last week's shooting, Lt Col de Quincey Adams, of the Queen's Dragoon Guards, said: "Embedded partnering is absolutely the only way to achieve a lasting effect. We've got to live alongside these guys, standing shoulder to shoulder.
"We won't allow the incident to break the bonds we have established. It was a monstrous act, an abomination. We've got to make sure we do everything we can to stop it happening again."
Asked if there could be members of the Taliban within the ranks of the ANP he said: "Of course there could."
Helmand's provincial chief of police, Colonel Asadullah Shirzad, said it would take "several years" to bring the ANP up to a professional standard.
He said: "We are not controlling the whole of the province. Most of the area of Helmand province is controlled by Taliban or enemy forces. They can join the ANP by a different name so we think some of them are inside the ANP."Reuse content