EFFECT OF COMMUNITY POLICING ON CRIME PREVENTION IN NIGERIA
The failure of government programmes for the control of crime informed private citizens playing a variety of roles that is making a decisive difference in the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime around the world. Private Citizens represent an underutilized source of assistance in crime control and social decay management. While law abiding citizens are willing and potentially capable of assisting the police, they lack direction and experience. However, with proper supervision and guidance by the police, citizens can contribute to reduction of crime and betterment of society. This study therefore aimed to ascertain the effect of community policing on crime prevention in Nigeria. The followings were the objectives of the study: to identify the prevalence of community policing on crime reduction in Nigeria, to determine the factors that affect community policing in Nigeria and to inquire the efforts taken by the government to ensure better community policing in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to 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
These are some of the questions the study is designed to answer:
i) what is the prevalence of community policing on crime reduction in Nigeria?
ii) what are the factors that affect community policing in Nigeria?
iii) what are the efforts taken by the government to ensure better community policing in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objective of this study was to find out the effect of community policing on crime prevention in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:
i) to identify the prevalence of community policing on crime reduction in Nigeria
ii) to determine the factors that affect community policing in Nigeria
iii) to inquire the efforts taken by the government to ensure better community policing in Nigeria
1.5 Significance of the Study
A community crime prevention effort encourages residents to know and recognize their neighbors. It also serves as eyes and ears of the police for spotting and reporting any unusual activity.The significance of the study was to observe the effect of community policing on crime prevention in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study covered respondents like the Nigeria Police, Vigilante group and other security agents in Nigeria.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Major problems encountered were time constraints, validity and reliability of the sources or materials. The researcher was faced with the problem of meeting with the security agents like the Nigeria Police, Vigilante group, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the likes as they were not willing to give adequate information needed for this research.
1.8 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Community policing: the system of allocating police officers to particular areas so that they become familiar with the local inhabitants
Crime Prevention: is the attempt to reduce and deter crime and criminals. It is applied specifically to efforts made by governments to reduce crime, enforce the law, and maintain criminal justice.
Abdulrahaman, Y. (2007). Preface in Community Policing. Nigeria Police Force Operational
Human Rights Watch (2010). Police Corruption in Nigeria.
Kelly, D. H., & Clarke, E. J. (2003). Deviant behaviour: A text-reader in the sociology of
deviance (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Okiro,M.M.(2007). Foreword in Community Policing . Nigeria Police Force
Qadri, S. M. A. (2005). Criminology: Problems and perspectives (5th ed.). New Delhi:
Eastern Book Company.
Quinney, R. (1974). Critique of legal order: Crime control in capitalist society. Boston:
Siegel, L. J. (2008). Criminology: The core (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomas Higher
The Dawn Newspaper (2011). Community Policing and National Security – Community
Policing in Nigeria. Thursday 27, January..