Philosophy and principles of community-based policing

3rd edition (1st ed Oct 2003, 2nd ed 2006)

This policy document forms the first part of a process of work that focuses on community-based policing (CBP) and how it can be implemented in conjunction with small arms and light weapons (SALW) initiatives. The document will serve as a framework for the South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) to guide the development and implementation of CBP in the region. It will also form part of a set of tools that the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) is producing. The second phase of this work will provide an operational framework for the UNDP Country Office in Albania for implementing CBP in Albania. The regional context of security and policing in South Eastern Europe pose many challenges. Under the governments of the former Yugoslavia and Albania's Enver Hoxha, police forces across the region were maintained as highly centralised and often repressive components of the socialist state apparatus. The turmoil of the 1990s saw the secession of the Yugoslav republics, in some cases through violent conflict, and the collapse of the Hoxha regime. The ongoing political and economic instability and the challenges of state formation further aggravated conditions in already under-resourced state institutions. These events shaped and affected the police as well. Cross-border co-operation between police forces suffered particularly, as political animosity (in some cases open conflict) often precluded any such co-operation, despite the increased need for control due to the rise in trafficking to supply the conflicts and black markets that developed across the region. Human rights abuses, corruption, politicisation, little or no accountability to the public, the assumption of military-style roles and exclusion of certain ethnic groups in the police are all characteristics that police forces across the region have exhibited at various points during recent years.

There are however, various initiatives under way to address these problems (with international support), providing an ideal opportunity for introducing a community-based style of policing. This policy document aims to set out the principles and key issues of undertaking successful CBP. It is divided into five sections. The first section explains what CBP is and outlines some characteristics of this style of policing. The second section explores the importance of a strategic management process in undertaking CBP. Based on the above, a 'model' of CBP is suggested in the third section. The fourth section is in a table format and is intended as a guide to the some of the key issues that need to be addressed when undertaking CBP. The final section presents a selection of CBP examples. Throughout the document, the linkages between CBP and the problem of SALW proliferation are highlighted, as the illicit flow and possession of SALW is a major exacerbating factor in safety and security problems in many communities around the world. In turn, attempts to tackle SALW proliferation and to remove illicit weapons from society are unlikely to be successful until communities have confidence in the police and other security agencies.

CBP is closely related to democratic government and a police service that is accountable to the law, not the government. One writer aptly stated that 'democratic government is more important for police reform than police reform is for democratic government'. The protection and promotion of human rights are fundamental to CBP and should form an integral part of police training. Additionally, commitment and competent leadership by the senior executive is vital to securing real change. There are some circumstances in which it would be difficult if not impossible to undertake CBP and this has to be carefully assessed before external support is given to such an initiative. Experience has shown that in some countries where crime is perceived to be escalating or out of control, police reform is likely to be restricted or opposed. The means to unlocking this stance is to show the benefits of a CBP style and that it will not be introduced at the expense of public order and crime control. The original document was published in 2003 and an updated version published in 2006.