AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF COMMUNITY POLICING AS A STRATEGY FOR CRIME PREVENTION AND CONTROL IN UGANDA: A CASE STUDY OF LIRA DISTRICT 1998 - 2008

Abstract

The study analyzed community policing as a strategy of crime prevention and conflict management. Community policing was established in Uganda as a as a proactive policy in 1980s to curb down rampant crimes that were then witnessed in the capital city of Kampala. As community policing strategy became successful around Kampala, the government of Uganda made a country wide strategy to curb down crimes in all Districts. At the same time the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency and devastating cattle rustling by the Karimojong warriors in the northern part of the country and specifically Lira District with devastating consequences, and creating a situation of conflict. This study looks at community policing as a strategy to address the crime and conflict situation in the District.. The strategy has had external variables that supported its success. They include; the police who have been at the center and in practice, the army, the NGOs, the CSOs and the local councils that had been supported by the people. At the end, the study reveals the strengths and the weaknesses of community policing in crime prevention.

 

Both qualitative and quantitative techniques of research methods were employed by the researcher. Three methods (interviews of the respondents, focused group discussions and observation) were employed to collect data from respondents. The information collected was organized according to chapters in order to make meaningful presentation, conclusions and recommendations of the study.

 

Accordingly the findings of the study reveals that community policing as a strategy to prevent crime has been successful in the reduction of crimes like murder, robbery, rape, and it has been proven a useful tool in the management of the conflict in Lira District.

 

In the conclusion, the study presents that community policing has proved useful in prevention of crime and management of conflict. In order to make it more successful, the researcher recommends implementers to engender the program and increase youth participation since these are the groups most involved in and affected by crime and conflict. Finally, the study recommends the empowerment of the key implementers of the strategy so as to fully exploit its potential in prevention of crime and as a tool for management of conflict. This will also help address apparent gaps between policy and implementation.

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

1.1 Introduction

The study explores community policing as a strategy of crime prevention in Uganda, using a case study of Lira District. By 1906, the Colonial Government had established the Police

Force in Uganda more an instrument of oppression than a service to the community (Johnston

2001:965). Since then, it remained accountable to Colonial Government up to 1962 when Uganda received her independence. In the post independent periods, the Uganda Police Force remained an instrument of the state, even as the country was characterized by political turmoil[1] . Later, the state used the Police Force as machinery to protect the community from all forms of crime and this was particularly the case in Northern Uganda and specifically in

Lira District since 1986 when criminal acts escalated with 20 years insurgency by the Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels coupled with persistent cattle rustling incursions by the Karamojong warriors.

 

Realizing the limited capacity of the Uganda Police Force to contain crime, the government initiated community policing in 1989. This was a proactive strategy under the Uganda Police Force to engage the communities in activities that could control and contain crimes. It started in Old Kampala and Katwe Police Divisions. In October 1993, the British Government through its Department for International Development began assisting Uganda to use community policing to curb down crimes. Since October 1993, community policing has become established as a policing strategy in Uganda as well as in Lira District. The Police Force, the army, the NGOs, CSOs, the LCs, and the people became instrumental in implementing community policing in the District.

The District of Lira is found in Lango Sub-region in Northern Uganda and it is named after its

Chief town (Lira Town). Until 2005, itwas comprised of six counties(Erute, Dokolo, Kyoga, Otuke, Moroto and Lira Municipality) with a population of 757,763 predominantlypeasant inhabitants[2] . However, since 2005 it has been made the counties of Erute North, Erute South, Otuke, Moroto, and LiraMunicipality. This was after Dokolo and Amolatar (Kyoga) were made new Districts. Lira now has an estimated population of 530,342.

 

1.2 Background to the Study

Community policing is not a new approach to communities‘ security and prevention of crimes in the world. It began far back by 1900 in Europe (Braiden Chris 1992:4) during which the police managers could assign rotating shift dutiesto officers to move frequently from one geographical location to another in order to eliminate corruption and crimes. In Britain, community policing was started by Sir Robert Peel in London Metropolitan to prevent crimes[3] and this made the police to gain much power as a government instrument for the services of the community in London city. It also made the police force to have a closer proximity to the community than ever before. According to Kelling George and Mark Moore (1988:4–5), reforms in London Government which began early in 1900together with the nationwide move to professionalize the police were the most reasons that made the Police Force in London to come near to the community and this helped in preventing crimes[4] .At the same time, the police management instituted a centralized policy which was designed to ensure compliance with standards operating procedures and to encourage professional aura of impartiality. This situation was later reinforced by technological advancement which, by the second half of the 19th century, led to the expanded use of automobiles that replaced the era of friendly foot-

patrols in the towns.

 

In the 1970s rapid telephone contacts with the police (the 911 systems) had been introduced in London and this allowed the police to respond quickly to crimes and to answer overwhelming numbers of calls from the community than before. As a result of technological advancements, it became possible for communication with the public to be transmitted to the police officers aiding faster response to the demands of the community. Such advancements in technology remained vital for the success of community policing in London.

 

The introduction of the computer use was yet another technological advancement to community policing in London although it also decreased physical police proximity to the community. After the introduction of computer use, crime data by specific individuals was generated and trends for the occurrences were tracked. This increased efficiency among the police in reaction to crimes detected by the computer and in its deployment in reaction to such information.

In Canada, community crime prevention programs were established in 1972 and 1980(Mackenzie, 2002:813). These preventive measures attempted to modify behavior of victims or alter physical environments to prevent crime and reduce fear among the people. The focus was on criminal acts, not on offenders. Church groups, schools, park boards, volunteer groups and local governments strongly committed themselves to strengthened community institutions to prevent crime. They constantly looked for additional ways to alter social conditions that were commonly associated with criminal activity.

In America, community policing has been an established practice and increased after the September 11, 2001. It aimed at involving citizens in crime prevention. President Bush called for greater citizen involvement in homeland security through initiatives such as Citizen Corps and Freedom Corps. This network of volunteer efforts uses the foundations already established by law enforcement in order to prepare local communities to respond effectively to the threats of terrorism and crime.

 

In Uganda, community policing was first established in 1989 in the central region because of the increased criminal acts such as robbery, rape, murder and other anti-social activities. It was also employed as a strategy in response to the spate of urban bombings around the city in the late 1990's and the early 2000's. At the same time, the insurgency in Northern Uganda culminating in the Lords‘ Resistance Army (LRA) rebel war further complicated by raids by the Karamojong cattle rustlers, created a significant security and crime threat.

Police efforts address crimes committed by both the Lords‘ Resistance Army and the Karamojong cattle rustlers in Northern Uganda and in Lira District in particular continued alongside a counter insurgency by the Uganda Defense Forces. As the insurgency devastated Northern Uganda as well as Lira District in particular, towards the end of the insurgency, Lira District witnessed an increased number of redundant youth who missed education in their childhood and could not be incorporated in primary education.

Such groups became the bed nest for criminals. Moreover as a result of the insurgency and cattle rustling and near absence of law and order in some areas, there was a proliferation of firearms in the area.  As a result, the government inaugurated community policing under the Uganda Police Force as a holistic approach to address aspects of conflicts and crimes in order to promote justice, law and order, and to promote conflict management in the community. It is from such background that the study was sought to examine community policing as a strategy to conflict management; using Lira District as a case study.

1. 3 Problem Statement

The problem which the study investigated was the occurrence of crimes and conflict in Lira District and how community policing was used to prevent the escalation of crime. In this, the study sought to assess the effectiveness of community policing under the Uganda Police Force and how the community at large in Lira District responded to the community policing strategy. In the midst of crimes such as rape, drug abuse, defilement and robbery perpetuated in a situation of insurgency and cattle-rustling, the study set out to investigate the role and challenges encountered by community policing. The use of community policing in crime prevention and conflict management is all the more pertinent as the District is in a postconflict reconstruction phase. The need to ensure justice, law and order in the community and to ensure that human rights are observed suggests that community policing could be an appropriate strategy. In conflict management, peace keepers are expected to perform a host of ostensibly impartial activities aimed at creating the law and order conditions necessary for lasting peace[5] . Unlike military personnel, the Police Force, specifically the Police usually work and live in the local community sharing with the local populace; hence, in many ways, they are the eyes and ears to conflict management programs.

 

The Police Mission is guided by similar objectives of ensuring that local law enforcement officers and institutions are respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Such objectives are supported by confidence-building measures like holding of elections and restructuring government institutions. Indeed, the international community has become increasingly aware that without a fair-functioning and transparent criminal justice system; of which law enforcement agencies such as police force are essential, there is little chance for meaningful lasting peace in divided and conflict tone communities that have experienced

serious conflict sometimes including crimes against humanity

  1. 4 Scope of the Study

Content scope

The content scope rotated around community policing as a strategy for crime prevention in Uganda. This was because the strategy has been emphasized ever since 1989 but crimes have been occurring particularly in Lira District. As a result of insurgency and cattle rustling, there was a need to start community policing.  The study therefore assessed the effectiveness of community policing as a strategy to crime prevention and conflict management. Community policing was chosen as a topic because it brings the Police Force and communities to work against crimes. It is believed that once the community cooperates with the police, this helps to reduce crimes and conflicts.

Time Scope

The period between 1998 and 2008 has been chosen as the time scope. This is because of the occurrence of crimes in the District. Besides that, it is a period characterized by insurgency and war in Northern Uganda. It was very interesting therefore, for the researcher to examine the role and effectiveness of community policing in a conflict and war-torn environment.

Geographical Scope

The study covered Lira District‘s six counties of Erute, Dokolo, Kyoga, Otuke, Moroto and Lira Municipality.  This is because the District has experienced crimes as a result of insurgency by the Lords‘ Resistance Army and the Karamojong cattle rustlers.

 

1.5 Definition of key terms

Community policing: This is a policy aimed at achieving effective and efficient criminal control, reduce fear of crime, improve quality of life, improve police services and police legitimacy through proactive reliance on community effort and resources that seeks to change crime causing conditions.

Policing: This is an activity of keeping law and order by the Police. It is both a social function and a form of social control.

 

The Uganda Police Force: This is an institution of the government of the Republic of Uganda that has been put in place to maintain law and order and to implement the crime prevention and community policing strategy.

 

Crime: This is deviant behaviorthat violates prevailing norms orculturalstandards of a community prescribing how humans ought to behave and often legally prescribed.

 

Crime prevention: These are designed measures by the authority or the peoples concerned to curb down criminal activities with the ultimate goal of peaceful and harmonious co-existence.

Conflict Management: In this study, conflict management refers to the ways by which people in the community handle grievances, solve mutual problems and respond to crimes.

1.6 Objectives of the Study

General Objective;

To assess the effectiveness of the community policing as a strategy for crime prevention and conflict management

Specific Objectives;

  1. To examine the nature/ impact of community policing strategy applied in Lira District
  2. To assess the role and the effectiveness of community policing in preventing crime and conflict management
  3. To make a PEST and SWOT analysis of community policing in Lira District

1.7 Research Questions

  1. What is the nature of community policing applied in Lira District?
  2. To what extent does the Uganda Police Force implements community policing in Lira

District?

  1. What are the challenges faced by Uganda Police Force in effecting community policing?
  2. How can community policing be improved in Lira District?

1.8 Justification of the Study

The study contributes to the existing body of knowledge and it is hoped that the knowledge shall remain as a stimulant to researchers in the field of community policing in Uganda. As an institution responsible for maintenance of law and order, the study reveals institutional strengths and weaknesses upon which improvements in community policing can be made.

 

The study also increases the information about crime prevention and conflict management to the both policy implementers and policy makers most especially in post-conflict crime situations and ultimately development.

Albeit studies about community policing having been carried out before, none of the studies have ever been conducted in this area of study and nor has it been linked with crime prevention and conflict management. The research used a case study of Lira District to get appropriate findings in accordance with the prerequisite of the study. Moreover, the prior studies centered on the implementation of community policing only but not linking it to peace building or conflict management particularly in a post-conflict area, yet community policing should work towards sustainable peace and ultimately to development.

1. 9 Conceptual Framework

 

The Conceptual frame work on the proceeding page presents community policing as an independent Variable which is implemented not only by the police force but also by advocates, local legislators, parliamentarians, local communities, religious sectors and Civil Society Organizations. The implementing variables are facilitated by the moderating variables such as enough police, un-corrupted police force, positive image towards the police force, good governance, maintenance of law and order. These variables prevent crime and bring about management of conflict in the community. This leads to enhanced law and order, improved relationship and ultimately to sustainable peace.

 

Like community policing that is affected by extraneous variables (external influence from multi-national interest, corporate foreign countries, absence of official policy, inadequate, resources and diseases), crime prevention is constrained by a number of variables that should be controlled and failure to do it, makes the whole process that could lead to crime prevention a failure. These variables include lack of good will for peace among the implementing variables, continued occurrence of crimes, lack of community support to the police, financial constraints, use of force by the police force, abuse and lack of patriotism by some members of the Police, police involvement in criminal acts, anti-peace activities, community‘s failure to report and support the activities of the police and failure to disarm illegal armed groups. The conceptual framework can be presented as follows.

Fig 1: Conceptual Framework of the implementation of Community Policing

1. 10 Limitations of the Study

The study covered a district which has suffered from the effects of the war for 20 years since 1986 and which has also suffered from the Karamojong cattle rustlers. In a situation where to be seen as a purveyor of information to the warring parties could be fatal and in an area still suffering illegal arms proliferation, it was very hard to get the information about criminal issues in the district as many people feared to give information.

There was also fear that some revelations could destabilize the harmony in a community already fed up of conflict these limitations prolonged the process of getting data from the field. However, the researcher went extra miles to elaborate to the respondents that the information generated would be treated in confidence and used for the academic and not for any other purpose.

[1] This was a period between 1966 and 1986

[2] This is according to 2002 national population census

[3] Braiden Chris, 1992:108

[4] Kelling George and Mark Moore, 1988:4–5

[5] Bayley, David H. and Clifford D. Shearing; 2001

Sharing is caring!

Post Views: 0