CRIME AND COMMUNITY POLICING

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ABSTRACT

This study sought to identify the the impact of community policing in crime control in plateau state.. The study was carried out in Jos. The study used to collect data. The quantitative data was processed and analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) while the collected qualitative data was analyzed through content analysis. The study found that levels of adoption of community policing as a style of policing had a positive impact on crime rates. Police partnered in sharing information, investigating crimes, arresting and prosecuting criminals, gathering intelligence and acting on it, partnering with the society and making patrols which address and deter criminals from committing crimes.. Key factors that obstruct effective implementation of community policing in Jos were found to include low levels of basic mutual trust, lack of an enabling legislative and administrative environment, poor public image of police and declining police resources. The study recommends that the government strengthen the adoption of community policing as a style of policing through budgetary allocations, ensure an enabling legislative and administrative environment, increase police resources and foster sensitization on community policing.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to study

The Civil Society Panel on Police Reforms in Nigeria report (2012) reflects a range of concern about the divisions in communication between police officers and the public in Nigeria. The report suggests that this division in the police/community relationship has been identified as an inherent hurdle in the system of policing in Nigeria. This is in terms of the ability of the police to really position itself as the constitutionally recognised and trusted security agent to which citizens of all categories could take their security concerns in Nigeria. The public perception in relation to lack of public confidence and the corresponding cultural gap has assumed a level whereby members of community are not willing to give useful information to the police in the task of preventing and controlling crime in Nigeria. This situation has been identified as one of the main problems in the implementation of various policing policies and programmes and this actually led to the call for the introduction of community policing in Nigeria (Civil Society Panel on Police Reform in Nigeria Report, 2012).

Community policing or neighborhood-oriented policing can be defined as a philosophy or way of life and a proactive, decentralized approach designed to reduce crime, disorder and the fear of crime. Community policing emphasizes full partnership between the community and its police in identifying and ameliorating local crime and disorder problems. The philosophy of community policing is built on the belief that people deserve and have a right to say on how their communities are policed in exchange for their involvement and support (Liou & Savage, 1996: 165). The police cannot effectively prevent and investigate crime without the willing participation of the public. Community policing therefore transforms the police from being an emergency squad in fighting crime into a proactive organization with ready solutions (Thacher, 2001: 158).

The concept of community policing, largely popularized in the United States of America and the United Kingdom from the 1980s onwards is based on the principle of coordination and consultation between the police and the policed, on the definition of security needs and on the implementation of ways of preventing and curbing crimes and of enhancing safety. The concept is often said to have its origins in an article by two American scholars named James Wilson and George Kelling. They argued that decaying neighbourhoods bred crime and disorder hence to prevent crime, disorder had to be contained (Ruteere & Pommerolle, 2003:588).

In Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa pioneered in implementation of community policing (Ruteere & Pommerolle, 2003:588). It follows from a long experience in the townships of fear and hatred of the police during apartheid together with the dependence of private security initiatives. After the period of apartheid, South Africa embraced the democratic aspect of community policing including its principles in the 1992 constitution.

Hills (2014) argued that the promotion of police and community partnership in Nigeria had been carried out by a range of politicians, practitioners, and criminal justice scholars who firmly believe in facilitating effective policing through partnership strategy. This kind of partnership strategy tends to serve as a means to build trust between the local people and the police. As part of demonstration of the tendency to ensure robust relationship between the police and community, various regimes of the federal government of Nigeria have stated the readiness to promote ideals of community policing in the country.

Statement of the problem

Following the trend of recent news, there is an increase in the perceptions of crime and insecurity such as insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, youth restiveness and cultism in the country (Adedeji, 2001). This is a clear indication that the police-community partnership strategy introduced for relatively over a decade as argued by Dickson (2007), has not really achieved its original aims and objectives in Nigeria. To buttress this point further, even in recent times, there was an official policy statement credited to the President, Federal Government of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari reiterating the concern of the government of Nigeria to give priority to community policing on the nation’s security agenda (Sun Newspaper, 2015).

The much attention channeled at insecurity in the country is a pointer to the urgent need to foster collaboration between the police and the public so to reduce the risk of crime in Nigeria. However, as promising as his Presidential remark, this event was not the first of its kind to give prioritise to police/community partnership option in the country. Rather, successive administrative regimes from the time of former President Ibrahim Babangida, had also taken similar policy directions. The bane in this regard is the lack of fundamental knowledge of the nature, dynamics and risk factors associated with community policing in Nigeria as well as how effective this strategy was in reducing crime in other sister countries of Africa. This lack of substantial knowledge about the culture that supports community policing has basically made its implementation absolutely difficult, not to talk of finding the suggestions to solve the problem of crime in Nigeria. Meanwhile, as noted by Hills (2014), to foster partnership between the police and community is also a function of trust, but that trust as a common denominator for this kind of relationship is problematic in Nigeria.

Despite the immediacy and enormity of the challenges associated with crime and insecurity in Nigeria at the moment, there has been surprisingly lack of adequate studies conducted on community policing involving community members in Nigeria, and how its culture might be better improved, in terms of policy and practice. However, this research would not cover entire population in Nigeria area due to size, time and financial constraints. The study therefore focuses on the police and community in Jos, Plateau State.

Objective of the study

The general objective of the study was to identify the impact of  community policing in crime control in Jos, Plateau state. Specifically the study seeks to;

1.                 Establish the extent to which community policing has succeeded in reducing crime rates in Jos of Plateau state.

2.                 Examine the perceptions of residents in Jos of Plateau state on the implementation of community policing programme.

3.                Investigate how community policing is implemented in Jos of Plateau state.

4.                 Identify the factors that obstruct effective implementation of community policing in Jos of Plateau state

Research Questions

The research questions for this study were:

1.     To what extent to has community policing succeeded in reducing crime rates in Jos of Plateau state?

2.     What is the perception of residents in Jos of Plateau state on the implementation of community policing programme??

3.    How has community policing is implemented in Jos of Plateau state?

4.     What are the factors that obstruct effective implementation of community policing in Jos of Plateau state?

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SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study upon completion would reveal the impact of community policing in crime reduction. Reduction of crime will lead to improvement in social and economic development hence benefiting the economy and the quality of life for citizens. The rapidly changing trends of crime require the adoption of new approaches to law enforcement. Through community policing therefore, the police and citizens have a central role to play to improve safety and security.

It was therefore important to conduct an academic study for deeper understanding of broad dynamics for crime reduction in the country. This study would to generate baseline data which can be used to evaluate the success of community policing and make decisions to expand the programme

The study will also proide Deeper understanding of community policing which  is likely to provide essential information for policy makers in the government and other stakeholders for concerted efforts to reduce crime in the society. This includes improving the level of mutual trust between the community and the police to improve cooperation, adequate involvement of community members in security initiatives and access to justice, and allocating adequate resources to community policing programmes.

1.6 Scope and Limitations

This study explored the impact of community policing in crime control in plateau state. The study would analysed the perceptions of residents in jos and how community policing is implemented in jos. The study however did not focus on the relationship between community policing and traditional policing or law enforcement. The research could have covered the entire jos plateau state to achieve better results. However, due to the area being expansive, a representative sample was chosen from the entire population which was residents of the Laranto Market which harbors the divisional headquarters of the Nigerian police force state common

Definition of Key Terms

Community policing: Is an initiative where security agencies work in an accountable and proactive partnership with the community towards mobilizing resources to promote long term community safety and support of security initiatives.

Community: A small well defined geographical area consisting of residents involved in community policing programs.

Implementation: Means the execution of the community policing programs by the police and community as per the strategic plan of the government.

Implementation Approach: Ideas or actions intended to deal with the problem of executing the community policing programs initiative.

Perception: Is a way of conceiving the community policing programs that is, whether they have been implemented effectively or not.

Factors affecting implementation: Are legal and administrative drawbacks that exist between the police and community in implementation of the community policing programs.

Reduction of crime rates: Means the difference between the initial and final crime rates after introduction of community policing programs.

CRIME AND COMMUNITY POLICING