Effect of Community Policing on Crime Control in Nigeria


 1.1       Background to the Study 

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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.


However, the subject of security management is sacrosanct to the survival of any nation or community, and this underscores the importance being given to the issue of security by various governments by putting in place actions and structures that can ensure effective security management. Traditionally, security management was the unilateral function of the state especially if we consider the intellectual view(s) of some political theorists like Hobbes (1962) who opine that the essence of a state is to guarantee the security of lives and property and ensure law and order through its political sovereignty and monopoly of violence. In recent times, many governments have realized that they can no longer monopolize the business of security in local domains as well as the world at large. This opinion has led to extending the security community to include private players (in security business), Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the civilians to take the centre stage in security management.

Since the 1990s, the attention of the world population has shifted to redefining security and looking for the best approach that could guarantee effective security management different from the traditional ones that had failed to address the increasing security threats. The search for the best approach led to the emergence of the community policing approach. Community policing defined as an attempt to link the police more closely to the community in ‘partnership’ arrangements, joint activities to co-produce services and desired outcomes, giving the community a greater say in what the police do, or simply engaging with each other to produce a greater sense of police-community compatibility (Mastrofski, 2006).  Adams (1994) notes that community policing is a “… shift from a military-inspired approach to fighting crime to one that relies on forming partnerships with constituents’’. Holland (1994) affirms that community policing has remained a problem-solving approach to security management in many countries of the world such as the United States of America and other countries of the world.

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Bittner, 1970; Gaskill, (2002) observe that if people are afforded the opportunity to be involved in the policy and decision making process of the police, there may be no need of having large population of police personnel. Certainly, the strategic importance of community policing has made it become a popular vocabulary not only among scholars in criminology and security studies but also scholars in other related fields as well as policy makers, police, legal practitioners, counsellors, politicians and citizens (Friedmann, 1992).


1.2       Statement of the Problem

Security breaches, insecurity and increased rate of crime in the Benue State despite the introduction of community policing makes it imperative to examine the perception of the police personnel which is one of the active agency collaborating  with the community.  Police perception of impact is an indirect way of assessing their values, attitude and ultimately behaviours towards community policing.

Effectiveness of community policing on crime control largely depend on the perception and supports of the police personnel who is one of   their collaborating groups (Young & Tinsley, 1998). The police-people partnership is very essential because the police are only one of the agencies responsible for addressing community problems, and other agencies need to partners with police at all levels.

It has been observed that 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).

It has also been observed that, in spite the efforts of various police administrations to curb crime in Benue State, 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).

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