Minister of Interior Sar Sokha and National Police chief Sar Thet have announced that the Phnom Penh municipal authorities will introduce new uniforms for “contracted” – or non-commissioned – traffic police.

The move aims to make it simpler for the public to distinguish them from the sworn officers.

A municipal police statement explained that contracted officers’ role is to assist with traffic management and to maintain public order, particularly in congested parts of the city.

“The new uniforms will prevent the public from mistaking them for sworn officers,” it said.

Kim Pagna, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, agreed on September 17 that the change of uniform would make them easier to identify.

He noted that while this is important, what is more crucial is the practical use of the contracted officers. He said they should be focussed on directing traffic rather than issuing fines, and that more of them should be deployed, especially in areas where heavy congestion commonly occurs.

“In addition, sworn traffic police – who are civil servants and have a role in fining drivers who break the law – must ensure they maintain their training and capacity building to ensure they remain smooth, appropriate, transparent and fair. This will earn them the support of the public, while leading to a reduction of casualties from traffic accidents,” he said.

Sokha first requested a change of uniform for contracted officers early this month.

Contracted officers are non-civil servants who are recruited to meet the practical and necessary needs of state institutions. They are often non-permanent positions, which means they are sometimes a more efficient use of public expenditure.