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Saudi religious police’s new fieldwork strategy includes iPads, but no return to previous powers

Chairman Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Sanad. (SPA)
JEDDAH: The chief of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, or the Saudi religious police, has announced a new workflow for field staff.
The plan, launched Sunday by commission Chairman Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Sanad, is aimed at streamlining the work of members operating in the field.
In a statement reported Sunday by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Al-Sanad praised the role played by field members “within the jurisdiction they are allowed,” the statement specified.
He advised members to intensify their field presence during the examination/finals period in schools and universities to assist students during this period.
He thanked Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, his deputy, the Riyadh police director and the director of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control for their cooperation and support in fieldwork.
The SPA report confirms what Arab News reported Sunday that contrary to some inaccurate news on social media, there would be no restoration of commission members’ previous powers.
Their powers were regulated via a Cabinet decree last year, whereby they are not allowed to arrest members of the public. They are instead required to inform the police and narcotics control officers of any wrongdoing.
The director general of the Riyadh General Presidency, Turki Al-Shalil, discussed the use of wireless communication equipment and modern technology in fieldwork.
Under the plan, all reports will be sent from field teams via an electronic app to the relevant authorities.
Some media reports said that the development plan includes the provision of iPads with a SIM card to each member of the team in the field to send reports through them.
The plan defined field members’ tasks, namely intensifying their presence in public places, communicating with the field supervisor, briefing him on all violations and reporting them via an app on their iPads.

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