Effect Of Community Policing On Crime Prevention In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

Effect Of Community Policing On Crime Prevention In Nigeria


Abstract


Preventing crime and reducing fear of crime, are both closely related to rebuilding strong communities. It is in view of this that the federal government of Nigeria through Nigerian Police introduced Community Policing in order to include both the police and all the Nigerians in the fight against crime. This study was embarked on to ascertain the fruitfulness of the program since inception in Nigeria and Enugu North in particular. Six hundred (600) respondents aged eighteen years and above were selected through simple random sampling without replacement formula from target population of 244,852 of the residents of Enugu North Local Government Area to respond to twenty five (25) questions and ten, (10) respondents for in-depth interviews were purposively selected to know their opinion concerning Community Policing as an effective strategy for crime reduction.

The result showed that residents of Enugu North Local Government Area are strongly in support of Community Policing. The fear of crime has reduced since the introduction of Community Policing. The study also revealed that although the residents welcomed the strategy as a good one that should stay but suggested that employment would be a better strategy that could reduce crime/criminality. The research revealed the challenges faced by the security agencies (police and other security agencies) to live up to the standard for effective Community Policing to includes: recruitment of some unqualified personnel, insufficient crime fighting equipment/patrol vehicles, inadequate remuneration of the security personnel, and lack of trust of information to the security agencies by the residents. Finally, it was recommended that the Nigerian Police and other security agencies should put more effort to improve on their relationship with the members of the public in other to gain the confidence of the people for easy flow of information because without information by both parties, Community Policing will die away.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background Of The Study

Neighbourhood watch is one of the traditional and best known crime prevention concepts in North America. It was popularly known as the neighbourhood watch organization in Pasadena Hills, under the direction of St. Louis Country Police Officer, Kyle Jundt, resident Geno Salvati and resident Ed Tyler. The International Code of Enforcement Ethics reveals the primary reason for establishing formal police system in any society thus: as a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind and property; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception; the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence and disorder; and to respect constitutional rights of all the men to liberty, equity and justice (Qadri, 2005). Admittedly, the main role of the police is to enforce law and order, safeguard lives and property, and render other essential services in the society. Put in a different way, fighting crimes and criminals is so difficult that the police and other law enforcement agencies alone cannot perform this task and achieve maximum positive results. Since the most visible part of criminal activities take place at the neighbourhood level, policing agencies need public support and co-operation. Intensive partnership and collaborative efforts of both the formal and informal agents of social control remain preconditions for a possible near ‘crime-free’ society (a complete crime free society is utopia); in other words, the idea will lead to a great success in crime prevention and control in the community.

Community policing is in hand with systematic relationship between the police and the entire people in the community. Police roles and functions are not simply law enforcement but also include tackling a huge range of community problems. The movement from traditional policing to community policing is a universal phenomenon and the Nigeria police cannot be an exception to this. Indeed, community policing as a philosophy and practice is a veritable vehicle for police reforms (Okiro, 2007). The Nigeria police in 2004, adopted community policing as a practical approach to police reforms. The stage was indeed set for a clear departure from traditional policing, that was reactive and incident based, to a problem solving oriented policing that is proactive with the community as the important part of policing objectives (Abdulrahaman, 2007).

Community policing is a paradigm shift that seeks to focus on constructive engagement with people who are the end users of the police service and renegotiate the agreement between the people and the police therefore making the community co-producers of justice and a quality police force. The most recent attempt made by the Nigeria police force to improve its performance was the introduction of community policing programme in 2004. This was part of the Nigerian Police force’s effort to change policing to a new and professional policing capable of ensuring and maintaining proper security of lives and property in Nigeria. Community oriented policing is a proactive measure that promotes curbing criminal act.

Conclusively, the police involvement in community affairs is another strong strategy that allows the police to display themselves as both private citizens and State agents of social control. Community policing under this programme or strategy presents the police as servants of the society who, should in a reasonable manner, enforce law and order and ensure public compliance with policies. Extant studies also attest that the involvement of police in community affairs has actually yielded fruitful results. For instance, Quinney (1974) affirmed that when the community collaborates with police personnel in maintaining social order, it helps the legal system also to be increasingly used in criminal justice administration. The police are viable instrument for building an inclusive and organised community policing in Nigeria. Police involvement in community affairs facilitates rapid and timely control of persistence rebellion, whether in outright political processes or behaviour that otherwise, violates the rules of the society. Community policing also helps the State policing actors to exercise its repressive force on the people in order to achieve compliance with the law (see also Kelly & Clark, 2003). This technique can be employed only in a physically and socially disorganised community. In more disorganised areas, some experts pointed out, police use aggressive tactics to reduce crime and ‘take back the streets’ before building relations with community leaders (Siegel, 2008 citing Nolan, Conti & McDevitt, 2004).


1.2 Statement Of The Problem

In spite the efforts of various police administrations to curb crime in Nigeria, crime and social disorder in Nigeria, it is obvious that there is still persistence of crime in the country. Thousands of lives and millions of naira worth of property are being lost as a result of one crime or the other. Some believed that the inability of the Nigeria police to ensure maximum security in the country is as a result of so many social and technical challenges ranging from lack of necessary tools to curb crime in the community and lack of maximum cooperation by the people in the communities ( Dawn Newspaper, 2011).

Corruption in the Nigeria police force is fuelling abuses against ordinary citizens and severely undermining the rule of law in Nigeria on a daily basis. Numerous ordinary Nigerians have been accosted by countless armed police officers who specialized at demanding bribes and committing human rights abuses against by extorting money from them. These abuses range from ordinary arrest and unlawful detention to threats and acts of violence, including sexual assault, torture, and even extrajudicial killings (Human Rights Watch, 2010).

Police is not unique. Corruption is now rampant in the Nigeria police force. Various issues of corruption concerning the commission have been seen and reported. However, the issue of corruption in the Nigeria police as noted above cannot be treated in isolation of the larger society. Corruption in the police is so prevalent that it has destroyed people’s trust and confidence they have in the police. Because of this prevalence of corruption in Nigeria and in the force, this study then aimed at investigating the effect of community policing on crime in Nigeria.


1.3 Research Questions

The following research questions are put in place to guide this study:

  1. What is the prevalence of community policing on crime reduction in Nigeria?
  2. What are the factors that affect community policing in Nigeria?
  3. What are the efforts taken by the government to ensure better community policing in Nigeria?
  4. What are the problems encountered by the police in the operation of the community policing strategy in Enugu North?
  5. How cordial is the relationship between the police and the residents of the Local Government?
  6. How the residents of the Local Government perceive community policing?
  7. What are the intervention strategies that can enhance the effectiveness of community policing in Enugu North Local Government?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to determine people’s perception on the effectiveness of community policing as a crime reduction strategy in Enugu North Local Government Area. The specific objectives are as follows:

  1. To ascertain the nature/extent of criminal activities in Enugu North Local Government Area.
  2. To find out the effectiveness of community policing in Enugu North Local Government Area.
  3. To ascertain the contributions of the residents of Enugu North towards community policing strategy of the police.
  4. To find out the problems faced by the police in the operation of community policing strategy in Enugu North Local Government Area.
  5. To determine the nature of relationship between the police and residents of Enugu North Local Government.
  6. To find out how the residents in the Local Government perceive community policing.
  7. To suggest other intervention strategies that may enhance community policing in Enugu North Local Government Area.

1.5 Significance of the study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, community policing has not received adequate research in Africa and especially in Nigeria compared to the extensive researches that have been carried out in the United States and United Kingdom. For this study will be theoretically significant because its findings will help to close the gap created by lack of existing literatures on community policing as a strategy for crime reduction in Nigeria. It will be an addition to the body of existing sociological, criminological and criminal justice literatures particularly in the area of crime reduction strategies. It will also stimulate further research on community policing in this part of sub-Sahara Africa, and Nigeria in particular.

Practically, the study will also draw the attention of the police on the need to strengthen their relationship with the members of the community where they are working, for effective crime reduction. The findings of this study will help Enugu North in particular and Nigeria Government at large to plan on how to improve community policing.

The findings will also help the general public to understand how the community policing enhances or lowers effective crime control when properly applied.

Finally, the outcome of the study will no doubt help in the prevention of crime and social disorder, and be a useful material to research students of criminology, law, law enforcement agents and public administrators for a crime free society.


1.6 Operationalization of Terms

The following basic concepts are operationalized for easy comprehension of the study: Community Policing: It is a collaborative effort between the police and the members of the public to identify the problems of crime and disorder and to develop solutions from within the community in crime reduction.

Crime:

Crime in this study means any action which contravenes the laws established by political authority.

Crime Control:

In this study, crime control is the means of solving crime problems, arresting suspects, processing and incapacitating offenders by the members of society, agents and the criminal justice system.

Crime Fighting Policing:

This is the kind of policing that do not need the collaboration of the member of the society in crime control/fight but solely depend on themselves to dictate and control crime example is the police we have during military era.

Crime Prevention:

In this study, it is the present interventions in stopping future crime. Crime Reduction: It is all the effort from the people and the government to reduce the rate of crime in a given society.

Hunting and Gathering societies:

This concept means “societies whose mode of subsistence is gained from hunting animals, fishing and gathering edible plants. (Giddens, 2004:691).

Lack of Understanding:

In this study, lack of understanding is the attitude of the police towards the people that made the people to see the police as uncivilized, brutal and corrupt and do not want to have anything in common leaking vital information to Nigerian police vice versal.

Law Enforcement Agencies:

They are those that are responsible for detecting, fighting and controlling crime in any society.

Perception:

It is the way a set of people see or understand a given circumstances, or the awareness created by some people about something or issues.

Strategy:

In this study, strategy is the way or means of doing the same thing in a different way for more positive result.

Traditional Policing:

Principally, they are government agency responsible for law enforcement and also to detect and arrest criminals, (Swanson, Territo and Taylor 1998). It is also to mean in this research work the kind of police system used before the advent of the colonial masters, whereby the emirs at the north uses palace guards, the oba at the west make use of palace guards and council of elders of the east uses age-grade to ensure order.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Summary

Community policing is a collaborative effort between the police and the members of the public to identify the problems of crime and disorder and to develop solutions from within the community in crime reduction. The study, ‘People’s perception of Community Policing as an effective strategy for crime reduction in Enugu North Local Government Area,’ is a study that looked at the way(s) people/residents of Enugu North see or feel about community policing as against the former crime fighting policing we used to have before the introduction of community policing on 27th April 2004. The major concern of the researcher was to ascertain from the residents of the area if truly community policing is an effective strategy for crime control, and if truly community policing have succeeded in reducing crime rate in the area since inception.

The researcher adopted three hypotheses. Six hundred (600) respondents aged eighteen years and above were selected through simple random sampling without replacement formula from target population of 244,852 of the residents of Enugu North Local Government Area to respond to twenty five (25) questions and ten (10) respondents for in- depth interview were purposively selected. Frequency percentages tables were used to code data from the questionnaire of the study, indepth-interview was content analyzed to compliment quantitative data of the study, while Chi-Square (x2) was used to test the hypotheses.


5.2 Conclusion

Community policing is embedded in joint partnership of the Police and members of the society to identify crime and disorder and find solution within the society to resolve it. It is a way to democratize Police Force from military nature in order to protect, serve with intergrity, safe guard fundamental human rights and ensure equal justice to every citizen, and among the citizens and security agencies.

From what has been discussed so far, people appreciate community policing and would want it to stay if the Police will improve on their relationship with the members of the public.

Finally, both the Police and the people should strive to embrace respect, protection of human rights and always be willing to help each other whenever the need arises.


5.3 Recommendations

The following recommendations are made based on the findings from the study:

  1. The Nigerian Police and other security agencies should put more effort to improve on their relationship with the members of the public in other to gain the confidence of the people for easy flow of information because without information by both parties, community policing will die away.
  2. The state government should also help in the provision of sophisticated arms, patrol vans/ power bikes, rain coat, and all other crime fighting arms to both the Police and other security agencies to help them contribute effectively for a better crime free society.
  3. Both the government and the public should see the need to adequate reward and motivate working/serving security officers (police/members of the neighbourhood watch) who carry out their assignment diligently, so that others will see the need for hard work and then put in their very best.
  4. Security agencies should not betray the trust of the people by leaking informations given to them by the people to the hoodlums. For the security agencies to do well, they must have access to information that comes from the people who know the criminals and their likely time of operation.
  5. Other security agencies outside the police should hand over any suspected criminal to the police for proper and thorough investigation and subsequent prosecution in the court of law, so that the law can have its effects.
  6. Qualified personnel (that is the people with passion and desire for the work of security) should be employed for the job.
  7. Both the Police and the public should strive to imbibe respect for human rights, have equal justice before the law and see themselves as one indivisible entity in the fight for criminality.

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