AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF COMMUNITY POLICING AS A STRATEGY FOR CRIME PREVENTION AND CONTROL
In Nigeria and many other countries of the world, the challenges of the traditional policing model here generated interest towards the concept of commonly policing as a better policing alternative. The main trust of this research work is to examine the effects of community policing in crime prevention and control, investigate how this concept improves neighbourhood security condition, to investigate how this concept helps to build better relationship between the police and the resident, to examine ways that this concept can transform the police and best practice option for policing. In this study, the primary data (closed-ended questionnaire) and secondary data such as books, journal, articles and newspapers were used to obtain data. The study population is Ado/Odo Ota L.G.A residents and the police officials, of which the sample size for the study is three hundred and twenty (320) and then random sampling method was used to select them from the sixteen (16) wards. These data were analyzed with the use of simple frequency distribution and percentage (%) method. It was discovered that there is obvious systematic inadequacies that greatly impaired the genuine implementation of community policing. For example the lack of proper training of police officials. Poor funding, poor police public relations and corruption. Some suggestions where proffered.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Every society applies certain rules and regulations made by the legislature that contains sanctions for violation, which order the behaviors of persons, bodies, organization and society in general. Society rewards certain behaviours and the same society inflicts sanctions upon negative behaviours, people are discouraged in one way or the other from engaging in acts that the society frowns at.
In other to foster compliance, commitment, conformity and consensus, which are fundamental prerequisite of social order, most government including that of Nigeria usually employ specially trained people called police to checkmate disorder in the society. It is based on this background that it can be said that the police force helps to observe, fortify and stabilize the prevailing social order in the areas of law and order (Hess and Wrobleski, 2003). In other words organizations like the police are established in society for appropriate maintenance of rules and regulations, so as to eradicate crime or reduce crime. The police are most visible institution of the criminal justice system. Greater parts of citizens come in regular contact with the police than any other criminal justice institution. This makes the police to be the visible presence of the state in civil society (Jewkes and Letherby, 2002).
In a strict legal definition, however, a crime is a violation of the criminal law, which is subsequently followed by legal punishment. It is an act of omission, which attracts sanctions such as fine, imprisonment, or even death (Dambazua, 1999).
In modern societies, behaviours that are considered inimical to the interest of members of the society are embodied in the criminal code. Act or behaviours that violate the criminal laws of a country are referred to as crime. Tappan (1996) define crime as “an intentional act in the violation of the criminal law (statutory and case law) committed without defense or excuse and is penalized by the state as felony or misdemeanor”. Clinard (1986) also defined crime as “any act that is socially injurious and is punished by the state, regardless of the type of punishment” (Ozo-Eson, 2010:102).
Crime has always been perennial and universal problem of all societies in all ages. It blight or afflicts the society, eating away at the fabric of a nation. Life is impoverished for many by anxiety and fear as result of crime. The by-product of crime, beyond actual physical or material, loss, is fear. For many crime victims, it is the most burdensome and lasting consequence of their victimization. The fear of crime has many detrimental consequences. It makes people vulnerable and isolated, it reduces a person general sense of well being, and it also contributes to neighbourhood decline. The people most fearful to crime are the people most vulnerable to crime. These days, experts are asking whether most crimes could not be prevented in the first place, and are developing techniques and programmes designed to do just that. Society needs to be able to punish criminals, but it is equally important that would be criminals find it difficult to offend at all. For the disease of crime is better prevented than to be cured (Kerrigan, 2003).
What actually constitutes a crime and how seriously it should be regarded, defers extremely from one society to another. Perception of crime are not determined by any objectives pointers of the degree of harm or damages but by cultural values and power relations (Dambazua, 1999).
Crime is generally classified by the police in Nigeria under the following categories:
- Offences against Persons: These are crimes such as murder, assault, grievous harm and wounding, manslaughter, child steeling, suicide, kidnapping and slave dealing etc.
- Offences against Property: These include armed robbery, robbery, all manner of theft and arson, shoplifting, possession of stolen property, illegal foreign exchange dealings, and possession and selling of marijuana or cocaine. Others are bribery and corruption, embezzlement and gambling.
- Moral and Public Order Crime: this include prostitution, drunkenness in public places, breach of public peace, and other related offences (Ozo-Eson, 2004:3-4).
The police protection of communities evolved over thousand of years. Many questions about policing are being asked so as to arrive at reasonable conclusion on how to achieve a policing model that can render quality services to the society. Some of these questions include; should policing be government operated or contracted to the private sector or both should handle policing? What should be the functions of police and what strategy should be employed to serve the people better? Should the police serve as social workers, and if so to what extent? How much power should be in the hands of the police? Who will police the police? Should citizens be involved in policing activities within their community? In what way can policing be improved?
Policing globally in recent times is characterized with changes in strategies that are in conformity with the universal norms and practices. It is important to note that police officers, with the intellectual contribution of criminologist and criminal justice researchers, have set out review current procedures and evaluate alternative programs that will replace the traditional policing model (Kerrigan, 2003).
It is well documented that the police without citizens assistance cannot command sufficient manpower or funds to be carry the huge burden of crime prevention and control. Therefore, citizen participation in tackling crime problem becomes an important ingredient in modern policing. Modern policing ensures that police officers have a thorough knowledge concerning the people they serve and must be able to understand subtle difference of community needs. In order, words understanding the people and enables police officials to win the support and cooperation of the community (Mathur, 1994).
One policing concept that has grown in popularity these days is the concept of community policing, which emphasizes that police should work closely with citizens to improve community standards and civil behaviours; using education, persuasion and counseling. This contemporary policing concept calls for shift from incident based crime fighting to a problem oriented approach, in which the police would be prepare to handle a broad range of troublesome situations in communities. This concept attempt to solve crime problems by analyzing causes and symptoms of crimes (Pupura, 2001).
The concept of community policing as a philosophy of full service personalized policing, where the same officer patrol and work in the same area on a permanent basis, from a decentralize place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve the problem. (Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux, 1988).
According to Pupura, (2001),
Community policing is major department-wide philosophy of policing that draws on most successful policing practice of the past and present (e.g) problem oriented policing while maintaining the vision for the future and being interdisciplinary in design, by “Borrowing” from variety of disciplines (e.g marketing), to produce the most creative efficient and effective approach to seeking closer communication and partnering with diverse citizens and groups to control crime, reduce fear, solve community problems and improve the quality of life (Pupura, 2001:252).
Community policing is a policy and strategy aimed at achieving more effective and efficient crime control, reduced fear of crime, improved quality of life, improved police services and legitimacy, through a proactive reliance on community resources that seek to change crime-causing conditions. This assumes need for greater accountability, greater public share in decision-making and greater concerns for civil rights. This concept appears to impose a new responsibility on the police to create appropriate ways of associating the public with law enforcement and the maintenance of order. It is said to define how the police should be sensible and appropriately respond to citizens and communities. The fact that the core function of the police is to control crime, this function can be greatly improved by diagnosing and managing problems in the community that produce serious crimes fostering closer relations with the community to facilitate crime solving; and building self defense capabilities within the community itself. Accordingly, community strategies of policing direct attention to and prepare the police to exploit local knowledge and capability to control crime (Dambazua, 1999).
The implementation of community policing goes a long way in changing the characteristics outlooks of the police. It is a renewed emphasis on crime prevention and control rather than law enforcement and can go hand in hand with the integration of policing with the community. The essence of this policing concepts is to return to the days when safety and security are participatory in nature, and everyone assumed the responsibility of well being of their community; not just selected few, not just safety forces, but absolutely everyone living in the community. It is a philosophy, a belief that working together, the police, the government and community can accomplish what neither can accomplish alone. The synergy that results from community policing can be powerful. It is like the power of a finely tuned athletic team, with each member contributing to the total efforts. Community policing is founded on the principle that in a democratic society, the police are entrusted by their fellow citizens to protect the public’s fundamental human rights to liberty, equality and justice under the law. This concept is characterized by the “Police service” rather than the “police force”, where the most significant benchmarks of performance are public satisfaction, trust and confidence. It is an evolution process that seeks to improve the quality of life, security and safety, and it reduces fear of crime. It makes things better for the society, by embracing improved models or strategies in crime prevention and control. The major keys to putting community policing into action are, communication, operation, coordination collaboration and change (Hess and Wroblesky, 2003).
This study is therefore, concerned with investigating the impact of community policing as a strategy for crime prevention and control in Ado/Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The rising crime rate, especially violent crimes involving terrorism, armed robbery, ritual murders, political assassinations, ethnic and religious violence, election violence are becoming very serious problems to the Nigeria society. It is therefore imperative to know that crime is an obvious risk and major threat to the orderly coexistence of the citizenry.
In Nigeria, crime constitutes immediate threat to the majority of the people both rich and poor, men and women, children and the old. It is also well documented that criminality is part and parcel of the human nature and society, but constitute problem when every sector is affected and majority of the society complains (Durkheim, 1957 as reported by Ozo-Eson, 2010).
Poor police public relations is becoming chronic problems with the police. It is argued that Nigeria police is a product of the colonial rule and postcolonial dictatorship in Nigeria. Thus, the societies distrust and have less regards for the police resulting to non-cooperation from the public (Ozo-Eson, 2010). The Nigeria Police have a very serious image problem in the eyes of the public it is established to serve. The police is described more in negative terms by major segments of the population; viewed with suspicion, and perceived to be unfriendly (Alemika, 1993). Police public relationship depends to a large extent, on the quality of personnel that make up the police force. It is difficult to expect the public to co-operate fully with the police in a situation where the police conduct themselves harshly and repressively even when the public have right to a claim (Nweke, 2002). There is a standing joke that it four men, each belonging to the army, navy, air force and the police, were lined up for a damsel to choose a bridegroom from, the choice would actually be from three options for the policeman does not stand a chance. This joke seems to illuminate the police as “the fourth rate force”. For an agency charge with the responsibility of maintaining peace, law and in the society, this is not a good image. An image acquired by the manner of performance of duties (Ilegbune, 1998). Also, it is difficult for the police to achieve any appreciable measure of success in discharging their duties as preservers of success in discharging their duties as preservers of law and order in any society in which the public treat them with scorn, indifference and contempt. Treating the police with disdain and non-challant attitude can only result in eroding police effectiveness in ensuring the safety of the society (Nweke, 2002).
Corruption is a problem that is ravaging the police in Nigeria. Police corruption impacts directly on the police ability to prevent and control crime, including criminal investigation. Corrupt police officer devote time and energy in pursuing graft, rather than fulfillment of their responsibilities to the society. Police corruption which include ill acts like favoritism, bribery, diversion of police resources, deceptive practices etc leads to increase in criminality and people taking laws into their hands (Dambazua, 1999). Police officers sometimes give up their professional principles, destroy their dignity and exhibit such low sense of duty for illegal material gains. Example is extorting money from motorists in lieu of search or in disguise of inspecting vehicle documents, collecting of money for exchange of charges or reframing charges for offenders, turning a complainer into an accrued for a fee (Ilregbune, 1998). Also, the ugly stain of corruption and embezzlement has manifested even in the police top hierarchy, example was when the former inspector general of police Mr. Tafa Balogun stole billions of naira belonging to the police (Ozo-Eson, 2010).
Police violation of human rights, which include brutality, is also a major obstacle to the prospects of democratic and effective policing in Nigeria. The police violence in terms of brutality, torture and homicide is widespread in Nigeria. For instance, the then Nigeria police Task Force, which was codenamed “operation Fire for Fire” the creation of a former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun portray the police to be frequent human rights offender, of which the force, or for deaths of persons. The police operated with the police officer were not held accountable for excessive or deadly force, or for deaths of persons. The police operated with impunity in apprehension, illegal detention and execution of criminal suspects (Dambazua, 1999).
Extrajudicial killings by the police in Nigeria is also becoming a frequent occurrence. As reported by tell Independent Weekly of August 1st 2005:25 of the famous Apo killings in Abuja, of six traders (Ekene Isaac, Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Ifeanyi and Augustina Arebu) who were brutally murdered by the police, claiming that they were suspected armed robbers in a shoot out. Like the “Apo six”, there are other numerous Nigerians who have been dispatched to unmarked graves by this invidious vocation of the police. The site of the police is considered to be synonymous with trouble by many instead of being friends, the police existed to be feared and avoided (Odinkalu, 2004 cited in Ozo-Eson, 2010).
Furthermore, the constraints of poor police facilities, inadequate remuneration and inadequate police personnel’s, is making the police institution to be ill-equipped to perform its role. Poor and ill-equipped police patrol, attribute to the fact ill-equipped for massive surveillance and prompt action required to keep crime in check. The general absence of these facilities has resulted in a grossly ineffective police action against crime. Police which are meant to be the antidote to criminality seemed to be getting overwhelmed by the phenomenon. The criminals seem to be ahead of the police such that the latter now only react to the commission of crimes and usually after the offenders might have left the scene of the crime. This disability enables criminals to operate freely and with impunity. And also armed police patrols are few and irregular and the likelihood of an encounter with criminals is negligible (Ilegbune, 1998).
It is imperative to note that, between 1861 and 1914, the British colonial government established police forces and constabularies to protect their colonial economic and political interest. These forces, which were organized as quasi-military squads, comprised people who were strangers in the communities they were deployed to work. These forces were later merged to form the Nigeria Police Force. The main motive for establishing this force was to act as an army of occupation that deploys maximum violence whenever deployed to execute punitive expedition. This method of policing was never changed or reviewed throughout the period of colonial rule in Nigeria, which ended on October 1st, 1960 (Alemika and Chukwuma, 2003).
This orientation that was carried out from the colonial experience where the police was merely used to subdue, cajole, intimidate, kill and maim the African patriots who resisted colonial invasion of course, since independence, the new the Nigerian ruling class who saw its self as the new “masters” did not have needs to re-orientate and refocus the Nigeria Police because the institution perfectly served their interest and desired to dominate and oppress such is the dilemma of that contraption that is the Nigeria Police Force. A police force characteristic with repression, brutality abuse of human right, corruption vicious acts with impunity in its operations or practices (Alemika and Chukwuma, 2003).
This traditional policing model is not in conformity with the modern universal norms and practices of policing. It is well documented that one contemporary policing concept that has gain universal recognition and acceptance is the community policing concept (Pupura, 2001). A policing concept that is characterize with “police service” rather than “police force”; whose core values are transparency, respect and protection of human right, commitment, empowerment, willingness to seek, listen to and act on public opinion relating to the policing priorities and accountability (DFID and British Council 2010).
Finally, the situation of which the police stations experience numerous reports of little matters of misunderstanding that ordinarily could have prevented by patrol officers is escalating the number of reported cases to be dealt with in the police station. Thereby straining the police stations, courts and prisons. The implementation of community policing will go a long way to reduce this problem, because this policing strategy promotes outside court/police stations settlement as community members would be encouraged to resolved any misunderstanding amicably without resorting to the court or police stations for settlements (Umar, 2010). Hence a research on the impact of community policing as a strategy for crime prevention and control in Ado/Odo Ota L.G.A in Ogun State.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In recent years, attention has been channeled towards community policing which is opposed to the traditional Policing model. It is on the basis of this preposition, that the following research questions were raised.
- How effective is community Policing in crime prevention and control?
- What is the perception and attitude of the public towards the police personnel’s and concept of community policing?
- What is the overall impact of community policing in crime prevention and control?
- Is community policing a failure or a success?
- How well has community Policing contributed in reforming the Nigeria Police?
The above questions and other questions will be addressed with a view to achieving the objectives of the study.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general goal of this study is to investigate the impact of community policing as a strategy for crime prevention and control.
The specific objectives of this study are to:
- Examine the effects of community policing by crime prevention and control
- Investigate how community policing helps in improving neighbourhoods security conditions.
- Investigate how community policing helps in building better relationship between the police and community residents.
- Examine ways in which community policing contributes in transforming police.
- Examine the best practices options for community policing.
1.5 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
The importance of this study cannot be overlooked especially with the search for current procedures to tackle crime. The study shall therefore portray the following social importance:
- It is hoped that this work will assist policy makers to take decision on better policing concepts that will enhance effective and democratic policing.
- It would add to existing knowledge on the concept of community policing and also stimulate further research on community policing in Nigeria.
- It will help to build a data bank on incidence on crime prevention and control.
- It will create awareness and organize the Ado/Odo Ota Community in Ogun State, who in the past have left the job of security only to statutory law enforcement agencies, to be actively involve in the security matters of their communities.
- In terms of practical purpose, it will provide the opportunity for the public to understand the role of community policing in crime prevention and control.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work is basically concerned with the impact of community policing as a strategy for crime prevention and control in Ado/Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria.
The study would be carried out within the sixteen (16) wards of Ado/Odo Ota Local Government Area.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- Police: is a department of government that is responsible for the preservation of public order, detection of crime or enforcement of criminal and civil law. It is an organization of which its personnel’s are charge with the responsibility for enforcement and other maintenance in society.
- Community Policing: Is a philosophy and an organizational strategy that promotes a new partnership between people and their police. It is based on the premises that both the police and community work together to identify problems such as crime, the fear of crime and social and physical and disorder with the goal of improving overall quality of life in the community.
- Crime: Crime is an intentional action in violation of the criminal law (statutory and case law) committed without defense or excuse and is penalized by the state as felony or misdemeanor. Any act which is socially injurious and is punished by the state, regardless of the type of punishment.
- Crime Control: Crime control involves the idea of solving crime problems, arresting suspects and processing and incapacitating offenders. The control of crime deals with the immediate situation and rest on discovery of past criminal behavior. It involves the whole of criminal justice system that is the police, courts and prisons.
- Problem Oriented Policing: Is a procedure that requires police officers, in conjunction with the community to identify problems in the neighborhoods, to list possible solutions; even those that go far beyond the resources of the police department, and then put to the best solution into practice to resolve the problem or conditions.
- Crime Rate: Is a measure of the incidence of crime expressed as the number of crimes per unit of population or some other base.
- Crime Prevention: Is a pattern of attitudes and behavior directed both at reducing the threat of crime and enhancing the sense of safety and security to positively influence the quality of life and to develop environments where crime cannot flourish.
- Beats: are small areas or zones of which police officers are delegated with responsibility of policing those areas.