Role Of Citizens In Community Policing in Nigeria
This research was initiated to assess the role of citizens in community policing in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area of Katsina State. The specific objectives include: to examine the nature of crime in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area; to identify the factors that facilitate crime in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area of Katsina State; to identify the challenges of formal agencies of crime control; to assess the roles of citizens in community policing and crime prevention in Dutsin-ma; and to suggest possible ways of increasing the effectiveness of community in Dutsin-ma. The study employed the survey research design.
Questionnaires were distributed to a total of 120 respondents while 12 respondents were captured for the in depth interview. The study employed the stratified random sampling technique in selecting the wards under study as well as the respondents. Findings revealed that the types of crime perpetrated in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area include burglary, armed robbery, rape and the abuse of drugs and substance.
More so, findings revealed that factors such as unemployment, poverty, greed/ redundancy among youth and the use of drugs and substance facilitate crime in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area of Katsina State. Similarly, it was also revealed that the challenges of formal agencies of crime control include lack of logistics, inadequate crime control equipment and facilities in execution their duties and corruption among officers. Furthermore, it was revealed that the roles of citizens in community policing and crime prevention in Dutsin-ma includeformation of vigilante groups, collaboration with formal agencies for crime control, rendering of physical, social and financial support to crime control agencies and provision of good communication network to crime control agencies.
Finally, findings revealed that, there a significant relationship between the roles of citizens in community policing and extent of criminal activities within Dutsin-ma; there is a significant relationship between criminal activities and the socio-economic development of the society. Community policing can be improved in certain measures and recommendations are put in place: good means of communication/relationship with formal agencies, frequent night patrols, citizen’s participation in community decision making and awareness creation on security cautiousness.
1.1 Background of the Study
In the past, traditional communities have increasingly used informal remedies to compel non-offending third parties to prevent or take action or investigate crime, drug and disorder in their neighbourhood. However, today, preventing and resolving neighbourhood crime and disorder is the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies and other formal government authorities(Roehl 1998).
The importance of citizens in crime prevention and order maintenance efforts became apparent in the mid-1970s, as concerns about street crime and residential burglaries began to rise and it became obvious that the police and other security agencies could not control and prevent crime effectively. With the formation and early success neighbourhood and block watch efforts, citizens themselves realized they could do something about the local crime problems that concerned them most. Aubow and Emmons (1981) labeled this the “Community Hypothesis”. Stating that neighbourhood residents could be mobilized to participate in collective crime prevention, which get residents to take greater responsibility for local problems, rebuild informal social control and reduce crime and fear of crime.
Presently, criminal activities seem to be on the increase while the police force appears to become dysfunctional despite government huge expenditure on crime control. But this dysfunctionalism or inability of the prosecutorial agent of the state to combat the crime phenomenon is usually blamed on poor numeric strength, lack of sophisticated crime control equipment, poor welfare package, poor training of personnel, lack of assistance / information from civil society, poor budgeting allocation among others. This explains why the efficiency of the police as a law enforcement agency is very much in doubt. These further stresses on the importance of citizens in community policing in preventing crime in order to compliment the efforts of the police force and other security agencies.
Community policing is a complimentary security management strategy for the prevention and control of neighbourhood crime(Monsuru and Rafiu 2016). The outcomes of the partnership between police and community however differ. Thus, the effectiveness in the way through which community policing is implemented an any given community will largely impact on the outcome of the approach whether it will be successful or not(Young & Tinsley, 1998). These partnerships are very essential because the police are only one of the agencies responsible for addressing community problems, and other agencies need to take responsibility and respond to crime prevention and problem solving in partnership with police at all level (ibid).
Community policing is anchored on a systematic relationship between the police and the entire citizenry. According to Ikuteyijo (2009), community policing entails community partnership in creating a safe and secure environment for all. Police roles and functions are not simply law enforcement but also include tackling a huge range of community problems (Okeshola and Mudiare 2013).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The government effort to prevent crime through community policing initiative had raised expectations of the citizens to see its efficiency. The model has already been embraced in some villages like Kisumu, Nakuru and some parts of Katsina L.G.A.. In Dutsin-ma Local Government Area, despite establishment of community policing, more than five police stations and more than twenty police posts crime rate has continued to rise for the last three years.
Crime is committed mostly by people within the same community; however, members of the same community may not report criminals to the police for fear of revenge.
The research shall analyze the level of understanding of the community in matters of community crime prevention and the role it can play to prevent crime by working closely with the police during patrols and in giving information to the police to help in crime prevention.
1.3.1 Main Objective
This study sought to analyze the role of citizens in community policing in crime prevention in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area.
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
- To analyze the effectiveness of joint community-police patrols in prevention crime rate by citizens of Dutsin-ma Local Government Area.
- To investigate the effectiveness of youth vigilante as a means of crime prevention in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area
- To analyse the role played by community in community court process to reduce crimes in
Dutsin-ma Local Government Area
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the causes of crime in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area?
- How successful are youth vigilantes in prevention of crimes in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area?
- Have community patrols had any impact in crime prevention in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study shall benefit the government and the community in crime prevention methods including but not limited to policy formulation, joint patrols, vigilante groups, and community traditional courts. The study will bring out the weaknesses and strength of community policing. This research study shall inform both the police and the community on the level of awareness of community policing, causes of crime rise and how best to engage for crime production.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study covers the whole of Dutsin-ma Local Government Area. The study highlights on the role of community policing on crime prevention. Crime is a global problem which calls for concerted efforts both at the international and local fronts and the study sought to establish these facts. By examining the current effects of community policing on crime prevention in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area The study opened to any community policing strategy applicable in Nigeria. Data was mainly collected by way of interviewing the key respondents and general respondents by use of questionnaires that was administered to the community policing agents.
1.7 Basic Assumptions
The respondents were free to give their responses towards this study. The key assumption of this study was that the crime trends will remain the same and the policy of the government in crime prevention will take a long time to change.
The role of the police as the crime prevention agency in Nigeria shall remain in the national government and not the L.G.A. government and therefore no strategy change in crime prevention management.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
- Inadequate information from the respondents, lack of knowledge on community policing, mistrust and fear of giving information to a stranger.
- Some of the respondents may lack knowledge about the community policing initiative and may not understand the need of sharing information on matters touching on crimes.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
The study analysed the data and found that community policing is highly effective though crime continues to raise calling for more interventions to address the emerging challenges which include but not limited to technological social and economic challenges with a bearing to the performance of the police in engaging the community in policing affairs
The vigilante groups comprised of young people most of who are not engaged in any economic activity but supports their parents either in business or in the farming activities. The group plays a major role in community policing.
According to Baker (2008) level of education, empowerment and capacity building by the community leaders and government social department is crucial in community policing. Knowledge and attitude change is essential in enhancing effective and efficient communication between the community and police officers who may be of different ethnic background. This resonates well with the finding that the wards with the highest crime are those with the poorer economic performance and with lower education level in the L.G.A.. The education of police officers and the level of their training was not researched. Community traditional courts play a valuable role in dispute resolution helping to curb crimes of retaliations and is cost effective.
The study established that community members who live in gated community do not embrace community policing since they argue that they are able to engage their own private security guards and that they pay taxes to the government to provide security. Those who live in gated community do not allow those other citizens entry to their homes citing security reasons, they maintain gatemen and or electric fence. This leads to impediments in implementation of community policing initiatives as they view it as a system for the poor or the less advantaged persons. This collaborates with Maina (2014) findings.
The study established that the number of community members who are aware of community policing was higher than that of those who were not aware though, the level of participation in community policing was very low.
Community empowerment, awareness programs and capacity building is necessary to influence community participation to make community policing a success.
As identified and clearly stated out by the Beureau of Justice (1994), the trust between the police and the community remains low and may require further research.
As supported by Mwaura (2014) study on the factors that affect effective implementation of of community policing in Kajiado North and who established that community-police partnerships are critical in crime reduction, I conclude that the government should strengthen the adoption of community policing as a style of policing through budgetary allocations to cater for community policing forum members and informers. Specifically, the findings support the need for strengthening the role of joint police-community patrols as well as the engagement of vigilante groups and community courts. Government should also ensure an enabling legislative and administrative environment, increase police resources such as personnel and equipment and provide training to foster sensitization on community policing for police and community policing forums members. An adequate level of deployment of police officers improves the level of security. Issues such as proper coordination between the police and the provincial administration, support of community policing by L.G.A. government, streamlining appointment of community policing forums members and village elders and offering identification to community policing forums members should be considered. The disabled members of the society should also be incorporated into community policing forums while integration among inhabitants to address ethnicity and cultural differences should be actively fostered. Community policing forums should also enjoin more young people and female residents. Police should improve on the integrity levels by sensitizing junior officers on its benefits to community policing and to general crime reduction.
The recommendation of this report agrees with Njirii (2014) that community policing is a success and plays a major role in crime prevention. The community awareness on community policing is very high but the implementation leaves a gap that can be fully eliminated if the community and the police can bond and build trust, have police officers trained specifically on community policing and community leaders be inducted on how to work with the police through modern communication technology and on how to relate to prevent crime.
Vigilante groups and traditional courts though play a major role and community policing leaves a gap that require research regarding the mood of appointing those who participate and best way to reward those youths and elders who work tirelessly without any pay for the safety and comfort of others in crime prevention.
The study further recommends that to ensure proper communication, mechanisms should be put in place to train community leaders including vigilante groups on modern technological communication and avail modern facilities like smart phones and motorcycles.
To this end, this study therefore recommends more similar research to be conducted not only in Dutsin-ma Local Government Area but the whole country to assess the challenges faced during the implementation of Community policing Initiative by the Department of Internal Security as well as Government agencies.
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