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COMMUNITY POLICING AS A STRATEGY FOR REDUCTION OF CRIME IN NIGERIA( A CASE STUDY OF KANO STATE)
1.1 Background to the Study:
Crime remains one of the most obvious events confronting people in the late modern era (Giddens, 2004). In a lecture to Participants of the National War College in Abuja, Ehindero, Inspector General of Police, said that 'maybe the most important challenge to the national security of any country is violence. According to Ugwuoke (2010), criminality and crime are as ancient as humanity. Marshall Criminality (2008) is a common characteristic in all human cultures. The explanation for this according to Marshall, is that there is no human culture where rules and principles are not broken, from the simplest hunting and collecting cultures to the most sophisticated civilised societies. It is because of this universal existence of crime that any culture is supposed to have 'specific structures for the public interest and well-being of the general community' (Igbo, 2007:14)
Ezuugwu (2011) observed that Nigerian culture is following a risky road, a path to nowhere (crime contributes to nothing but death), a path to destruction. That world is genuinely adrift, a regrettable drift, sustained by a tide of violence and lawlessness. The Nigeria sleeps with one eye closed these days out of fear of the rampant consequences of armed robbery and other similar crimes. Every day, his odd tales of one type of crime or another unfold. Either there was a burglary attack, abduction, theft, sex abuse or money laundering. Each culture is offered the kind of criminal it needs, so society plans the crime before the criminals perform it. Since the government has shunned its fundamental responsibilities to address the primary needs of the citizen, illegal crime tends to rise in culture.
According to the Kano State Police Command Crime Statistics chart, a total of 3,682 major crimes were perpetrated in the state between 2007 and 2011, while 684 of the major crimes were committed in the state of Kano. This indicates the high level of crime and the rising level of crime in the state. Among the crimes reported between 2007 and 2011, fraud and other cheating, trick-taking (OBT), house-breaking, armed robbery, burglary and murder registered the highest rate. In response, culture often embraces ways and approaches to minimise the violence that pervades society.
The past of crime prevention can be categorised into three major stages in Nigeria: pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. In Nigeria, during the pre-colonial period, cults, hidden societies, messengers and palace guards were used as methods for the elimination of crime (Marenin, 1985). In the colonial period, the style and values of police or crime prevention have been defined as anti-people by many writers (Alemika and Chukwuma, 2000; Rotimi, 2001; Okafor, 2006; and Ikuteyijo, 2009). The explanation for this form of classification is that the creation of the colonial police was more meant to represent and defend the economic interests of the colonialists. The post-colonial Nigeria Police Force is a transition from the colonial period and the post-colonial Nigeria Police also represent the needs of their financiers (leaders) and nothing less can be anticipated from them. Alemika and Chukwuma (2004) observed that even now, despite more than three decades of democracy, the police see themselves as existing with the government of the day and as rich representatives of society in almost the same way as the imperial government and its European employees.
Since then the post-colonial police period in Nigeria has seen various changes. The Neighborhood Policing is one such reform. Siegel (2005) observed that in recent years, police forces have been experimenting with alternative ways of law management, including group law enforcement. Instead of reacting to the incident, police officers have taken on the position of
Community change officers, collaborating alongside people to deter crimes from happening until they occur. Community law protection was essentially established in the United States in the early 1970s, when studies indicated that citizens and neighbourhood associations may lead to their own defence (Bohm and Haley, 2005; Inciardi, 2007; and Dambazau, 2009). Public protection concerns both the situational and socioeconomic dimensions of violence and disorder. In a way, "dealing with such problems requires the involvement of local residents, local authorities, businesses and various agencies, so that, on the basis of partnerships and multi-agency cooperation, all are actively engaged in the pursuit of a safer social environment" (Tierney, 2006:305).
Group law policing as a crime prevention mechanism is a protective framework through which representatives of the public are active in the actions of law enforcement in their locality, complementing police attempts to control crime by supplying valuable, intelligent input to law enforcement authorities in the neighbourhood (Eke, 2009). Community law enforcement is typically required to involve the community in the position of law enforcement through voluntary schemes, the launch of local service networks and an improvement in street patrol operations.
Crime prevention and the elimination of fear of crime are also strongly connected to restoring strong neighbourhoods (Giddens, 2004). It is generally accepted that effective police/public relations are essential to a successful police activity. Without sustained public interaction, officers would be unwilling to use their discretion in an acceptable way and would find themselves alienated, highly aggressive and unable to empathise with the public. In spite of this, in 2003, seven senior Nigerian police officers went to the U.K. and the U.S.A. to undertake a comparative analysis of community police (Anucha, 2007). It was initiated on the 27th day of April 2004 by Police Inspector General Tafa Balogun under the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the state of Kano was used as a pilot state (Anucha, 2007 and Ikuteyijo, 2009).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Terrorism and crime are quickly becoming a major concern in today's country. The high incidence of violence in the state of Kano in general, and in the state of Kano in particular, has given rise to a general feeling of insecurity of life and property, and has caused local government citizens scream out to both federal and state governments for immediate assistance to put a stop to the ugly condition in order to protect the lives and property of community people.
In an eager bid to tackle this rising crime wave, the federal and state governments have increased support for Nigeria's police forces in the areas of personnel, logistics and firearms. However it appears that the more weapons and police personnel deployed to combat crime, the more criminal activities are committed. Chukwuma (2002) noted that much of what has been achieved appears to be a crime that spreads from one local government, state or region to another. The point is thus that the emergence of advanced armed robbery activities, superior arms, additional manpower and innovative approaches or techniques such as the police/public alliance (community police) should be discussed.
Every day, his odd tales of one type of crime or another unfold. There is hardly a day that passes without one crime or the other being committed. From cult-related killings, kidnappings or suicides, killing innocent people has become more or less the order of the day. Indeed, cult-related criminal activities have devastated the state of Kano, including the loss of life and limbs and the creation of fear and insecurity (Ezuugwu, 2011). With the growing fear of the rampant effects of armed robbery and other related crimes in the state of Kano, to what extent has the police helped the inhabitants of Kano State to reduce fear and combat crime?
According to the Kano State Police Command Crime Statistics chart, a total of 3,682 major crimes were perpetrated in the state between 2007 and 2011, while 684 were committed in the county.
Big crimes come from the state of Kano. This indicates the high level of crime and the rising level of crime in the state. Among the crimes listed, theft and other stealing, trick-taking (OBT), house-breaking, armed robbery, burglary and murder recorded the highest incidence.
Records often indicate a strong rate of violence in the state of Kano. The remaining 16 municipal councils that make up the state had a prevalence of 81%. This is an exceptionally high crime rate for one city government.
In reaction to the high crime rate, the police expanded their involvement, embarked on joint military patrols, and deployed several of the Armed Personnel Carriers (APCs) in strategic crime zones in the region. However these measures and interventions from the available records have not been effective in decreasing the frequency of crime in the region. Instead of reducing crime cases, the crime rate tends to climb from year to year, according to the Enugu crime figures. This condition however questions the validity of current systems of crime prevention and calls for a change in crime control policies and methods. As a consequence, a Neighborhood police method has been implemented in the province.
However after the implementation of the new approach in the state in 2004 as a test experiment, no social analysis focused on observational evidence has been carried out to assess the efficacy of community-based law enforcement in preventing crime in the region. Much of the knowledge in use is largely focused on newspaper coverage and conjecture. The goal of this study is therefore to fill this research gap and to further include empirical evidence to assess the impression of local government citizens about the efficacy of community policing, especially in the state of Kano.