15, September, 2016

Community-based Crime Prevention: often Effective but needs Regulating

This Policy Brief uses new research by the University of Ibadan to explore the introduction of complementary, community-based crime prevention models in Nigeria’s largest metropolitan areas: Ibadan.

Weak criminal justice and policing systems often necessitate the introduction of complementary, community-based crime prevention models. In Africa, such community models are common, but their effectiveness and legitimacy is the subject of debate. This Policy Brief uses new research by the University of Ibadan to explore these issues in one of Nigeria’s largest metropolitan areas, Ibadan.

Community-based crime prevention (CBCP) was found to be prevalent in all 18 communities studied. In many, the CBCP was effective – particularly in those able to deploy a “communitisation” strategy, whereby communities often manage ‘private spaces’, take the lead on representing individuals’ concerns, and support the functions of the state police.
At the same time, there are risks that these communitisation strategies can infringe individual human rights. Policies seeking to strengthen community-based crime prevention must be sure to protect human rights without weakening the community associations.
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Key Lessons:

  • Given that CBCP models have been shown to work, specific legal frameworks and policies should be developed to support but regulate the process of ‘communitisation’, to ensure that human rights are being respected. An approach where citizens are supported to interpret their own rights and privileges will be important in drafting such regulations.
  • In trying to promote community-based models in other parts of the country, the Ministry of Interior and its development partners should actively help facilitate the process of defining clear community roles and responsibilities so that groups can maximise their strengths and resources.
  • Community-based crime prevention would be successful where community members are willing to obey and respect the legitimate power of community associations whereas presence of parallel authorities that defy directives of community leaders weakens community crime prevention efforts.
  • The Nigerian Government and its police service should organise regular training for community leaders in order to minimise the friction sometimes caused by the adoption of community-based crime prevention practices.

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