Implementing community-based policing in Kenya

from Saferworld
Published on 29 Feb 2008 View Original

"There can be no security without development and no development without security, and neither can be sustained in the long term without being rooted in the rule of law and respect for human rights."

Former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan

There is increasing recognition that without security there can be no development. Insecurity hinders socio-economic growth in different ways: threats to physical security, the absence of safe living environments, dangers that prevent people from achieving sustainable livelihoods, and the impact upon health and education services.As one of the main providers of security, the police play a pivotal role in creating the conditions in which development can take place.However, all too often those who are most affected by insecurity have little opportunity to engage constructively with the police. This can result in feelings of mistrust between the police and the communities they serve.

Community-based policing (CBP) is an approach to policing that brings together the police, civil society and local communities to develop local solutions to local safety and security concerns. This helps to improve community safety, reduce crime and the fear of crime, enhance access to justice and create more peaceful communities. CBP,whilst a policing style, is also an attitude of mind, both for the police and for the public. It involves a profound shift in police and community thinking about policing.

In Kenya, police reform is a critical issue not only for community safety and economic development, but because there is intense popular demand for reduced crime and better police performance. Since 2003, Saferworld, in collaboration with its local partner PeaceNet, has developed and implemented a CBP programme in Kenya. The programme aims to improve relations between the police and communities, and to enable them to work together to find solutions to community safety concerns. This has been achieved through the creation of inter-agency partnerships, community involvement and collaboration with key stakeholders, including the Office of the President, the Kenya Police and the Administration Police. The CBP approach has been tested and developed in two pilot sites supported by Saferworld.

The results achieved and challenges encountered in each area are detailed below, along with the main lessons learned. There has been progress in each area,with perhaps the most notable achievement being the improvement in security registered by police and residents in the pilot sites.According to police reports, the CBP approach to addressing insecurity has resulted in crime rates being reduced by up to 40% in one of the pilot sites, and businesses and schools have opened their doors once again. This is underpinned by increased trust between police officers and residents, and increased accountability of the police to the participating communities.

However, there continue to be major obstacles to police reform in Kenya.Crime rates are still very high, there is widespread corruption, and policing approaches and actors are often politicised. These challenges, alongside the uneven pace of reform, have limited progress in extending CBP to other parts of Kenya and improving safety for the rest of Kenya's population.

This publication documents the main activities carried out by Saferworld and its partners in support of Kenyan police reform during the last five years, including training for police and community leaders; development of a national policy on community policing; strategic planning with the police; and establishing CBP projects at two pilot sites - Isiolo and Kibera. It aims to increase understanding of the concept of CBP by illustrating how it is working in the Kenyan context. By examining both the achievements and the challenges of CBP in Kenya, the booklet goes on to suggest some lessons that can be learned from this experience.