Challenges of community policing in Uganda’s urban areas: A case study of Mbarara Municipality.
Otika, Patrick Akubu
MetadataShow full item record
The cornerstone of successful community policing and law enforcement is building and maintaining community trust and this takes a great deal of continuous effort. Community confidence and trust in police has largely remained a challenge. The general objective of this research is to examine the challenges of community policing in Uganda’s urban areas with focus on Mbarara Municipality and ultimately seek ways to rebuild trust and confidence in the Uganda Police (UP) for peace and development. This research argues that the implementation of community policing does not merely mean new police tactics but calls for changes in the management of police organization and approach in policing strategy. Community Policing (CP) goes beyond simply treating the symptoms of crime but involves identification and analysis of neighborhood problems, and then solving them through cooperative interaction between police and the community. Research findings show that while crime control and prevention remain central priorities, community policing in the municipality adopts a wide variety of methods such as foot and motorised patrols, media engagement and public gatherings to raise awareness. It contends that if the police and the community become partners in addressing problems of disorder and neglect, it will result in the reduction of the fear of crime, and improvement in the quality of life in Mbarara municipality. The findings of this study further point out to some common elements of community policing such as problem-solving of criminal activities or other anti-social issues, partnership between police and the general public, and devising participatory means of monitoring and accountability within the police. This study concludes that at the center of any community policing programs or initiatives are community-focused crime prevention and problem-solving schemes, localized solutions and partnerships between the police, the general community and other agencies. This implies that its implementation approach must be relevant to the expectations of the people. Partnerships between the police, the general community and other agencies are the basis for community-focused crime prevention, problem-solving schemes, area localized solutions to disorder problems but police and the communities are failing to evenly embrace their roles as partners in the implementation and the sustainability of the community policing program. The patrol officers should be allocated areas of responsibility which are well-defined so as to positively relate with the community members, their leaders and institutions in the area so as to encourage meaningful and efficient service delivery. The police service must find ways of improving its image and customer care through aggressive marketing of its programs. CP structures were superimposed onto the existing police administrative structures that historically were used to intimidate the public thereby leading to mistrust and suspicion. This study highlighted the issue of indifference among the police and the community, and its effect on the police- public willingness to partner and cooperate. There was no pilot project carried out on community policing initiative and the concept is not popular in the some government structures, local community leadership, and police itself. With these, the research goes ahead to recommend changes and new strategies that can be explored by the UPF. This includes the need for creation of CP environment where the police work hand in hand with the general public and this is vital to the realization of the CP goals and objectives. For sustainability of CP initiatives, the UPF should create effective partnerships and hence the need to rethink the approach in the creation of joint strategic plans for successful partnerships. There is need for a more rigorous monitoring and evaluation system that can provide information that can link CP to crime prevention if it is to win the confidence of the police and community. Realistic and achievable goals, both short and long-term, with clear priorities and targets with a structure in place to monitor, and evaluate should be initiated and efforts geared towards mobilization, and sensitization in communities to recognize public safety concerns and most importantly to embrace and own the community policing philosophies. It also recommends that the UPF should carry out performance audit in order to allow communities to able to take stock and evaluate efficiency, effectiveness and corrupt tendencies in their circles. For community policing to be sustained in the future, the UPF should streamline and undertake organizational structural change and support the building of an all inclusive private and public partnerships geared towards creating an enabling environment for thriving of community policing. Police should identify drivers of citizen satisfaction in the service rendered to the community; and develop indicators of performance which attempt to gauge in a meaningful way customer satisfaction and the quality of police-community partnerships.