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Enhancing Community Policing Using a Virtual Community Model

Enhancing Community Policing Using a Virtual Community Model

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Published by ijcsis
Globalisation and Information Communication Technology have both exposed people to perverted foreign cultures with associated criminal tendencies. Consequently, there has been an increase in the perpetration of
crimes in most communities especially in the developing nation like Nigeria. The Nigerian Police has made cogent effort in checking the upsurge of crimes, without significant success. Perhaps, one of the factors responsible for the
failure is that the police have not integrated members of the community in their war against crimes or an effective tool has not been employed in reaching members of the community. People have reservations for the Nigerian police on account of three reasons, namely: a) perceived rise in crime/inability of the police to cope with the demand for protection by the citizens, (b) poor perceptions about the ability of the criminal justice system to respond to the needs of the victims of crime and (c) inadequacies of the formal police service. This paper discusses how community policing can be enhanced using virtual community. It describes the modus operandi of existing community policing approach in Nigeria, the associated problems and the changes information technology can make. As part of this research we will review relevant literature on existing virtual communities and we will develop a virtual community model for effective community policing. The paper concludes that community policing can better be enhanced using a virtual community model (VCM).
Globalisation and Information Communication Technology have both exposed people to perverted foreign cultures with associated criminal tendencies. Consequently, there has been an increase in the perpetration of
crimes in most communities especially in the developing nation like Nigeria. The Nigerian Police has made cogent effort in checking the upsurge of crimes, without significant success. Perhaps, one of the factors responsible for the
failure is that the police have not integrated members of the community in their war against crimes or an effective tool has not been employed in reaching members of the community. People have reservations for the Nigerian police on account of three reasons, namely: a) perceived rise in crime/inability of the police to cope with the demand for protection by the citizens, (b) poor perceptions about the ability of the criminal justice system to respond to the needs of the victims of crime and (c) inadequacies of the formal police service. This paper discusses how community policing can be enhanced using virtual community. It describes the modus operandi of existing community policing approach in Nigeria, the associated problems and the changes information technology can make. As part of this research we will review relevant literature on existing virtual communities and we will develop a virtual community model for effective community policing. The paper concludes that community policing can better be enhanced using a virtual community model (VCM).

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Published by: ijcsis on Feb 19, 2012
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ENHANCING COMMUNITY POLICING USINGA VIRTUAL COMMUNITY MODEL
Rufai M. M. and Adigun J. O
Dept. of Computer Technology,Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, NigeriaEmail:m_rufai@yahoo.com
 Abstract -
Globalisation and InformationCommunication Technology have both exposedpeople to perverted foreign cultures withassociated criminal tendencies. Consequently,there has been an increase in the perpetration of crimes in most communities especially in thedeveloping nation like Nigeria. The NigerianPolice has made cogent effort in checking theupsurge of crimes, without significant success.Perhaps, one of the factors responsible for thefailure is that the police have not integratedmembers of the community in their war againstcrimes or an effective tool has not been employedin reaching members of the community. Peoplehave reservations for the Nigerian police onaccount of three reasons, namely: a) perceived risein crime/inability of the police to cope with thedemand for protection by the citizens, (b) poorperceptions about the ability of the criminal justice system to respond to the needs of thevictims of crime and (c) inadequacies of theformal police service. This paper discusses howcommunity policing can be enhanced using virtualcommunity. It describes the modus operandi of existing community policing approach in Nigeria,the associated problems and the changesinformation technology can make. As part of thisresearch we will review relevant literature onexisting virtual communities and we will develop avirtual community model for effective communitypolicing. The paper concludes that communitypolicing can better be enhanced using a virtualcommunity model (VCM).
 Key words: Community Policing, Virtual Community
I. INTRODUCTION
The high rate of crime in urban and ruralcommunities call for a review of our approach tocrimes fighting and its prevention. Some of thefrequently reported crimes are kidnapping, robbery,murder, terrorism, tribal feud to mention but a few.The survey conducted by Centre for LawEnforcement Education in Nigeria (CLEEN)[1] oncrime rates revealed that Murder crime increasedfrom 1629 to 2133 in the year 1994 to 2003. Thesecrimes are perpetrated by members of thecommunity. Some of the factors responsible for thefailure of the police in this regard may be lack of understanding between members of the communityand the police. A situation where a communicationbarrier exists between the police and the communityresidents aggravates the situation. An un-enlightenedrural man sees the police as threat to the peace of their land. Their conception is that the police havecome to intrude into their privacy or have come tousurp the power of the community head[3].Consequently, they meet the police with differentunwelcome treatment. A community having suchwrong impression needs to be enlightened andadequately oriented on the role of the police incombating crime and the need for their support inmaking the community peaceful.
A. Community Policing Concepts
Community Policing can be defined as aphilosophy of or an approach to policing whichrecognizes the interdependence and sharedresponsibility of the police and the community inensuring a safe and secure environment for all thepeople of the country. Community Policing aims toestablish an active and equal partnership between thepolice and the public through which crime andcommunity safety issues can jointly be determinedand solutions designed and implemented. Communitypolicing seeks to achieve the following objectives:
 
Service orientation:
The safety of the community is prioritized. Thecommunity is seen as the client and theservice need of the client is given properattention. The service orientation is client-centered.
 
Partnership:
The police see thecommunity as partners in the battle againstcrime. Consequently, the community needsand policing priorities are determinedthrough consultation with the community.
 
Problem solving:
This relates tothe joint identification and analysis of theactual and potential causes of crime andconflict within communities. This analysisguides the development of measures to
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011119http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
.
 
address such problems over the short-,medium- and long-term.
 
Empowerment:
This refers to the creationof a sense of joint responsibility and a jointcapacity for addressing crime, servicedelivery and safety and security amongstmembers of the community and The PoliceService personnel.
 
Accountability:
Accountability will berealized by creating mechanisms throughwhich the Police can be made answerablefor addressing the needs and concerns of thecommunities they serve.
II THE EXISTING SYSTEM (THENIGERIA POLICE FORCE)
 
Legal framework for The Nigeria Police Force
The Nigeria Police Force is constitutionallyempowered to provide security for lives and propertyof Nigerians. This vital security apparatus derives itsexistence from Section 214 (1) of the 1999Constitution which stipulates that "there shall be aPolice Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as theNigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be establishedfor the Federation or any part thereof" (TheConstitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.1999)[9].Furthermore, Section 4 of the Police Act, 1990outlines the general duties of the Police as follows :"The police shall be employed for the preventionand detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, theprotection of life and property, and the dueenforcement of all laws and regulations with whichthey are directly charged and shall perform suchmilitary duties within or outside Nigeria as may berequired of them, by or under the authority of this orany other Act." That these duties of ensuring order,safety and security are important t to the making of agood society is not in doubt.Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution,stipulates that: "The police shall be employed for theprevention and detection of crime, the apprehensionof offenders, the preservation of law and order, theprotection of life and property, and the dueenforcement of all laws and regulations with whichthey are directly charged and shall perform suchmilitary duties within or outside Nigeria as may berequired of them, by or under the authority of this orany other Act."
 
Why People Lost Trust In Traditional PoliceStructures
Literature on policing has revealed severalreasons why people shun reporting of criminalactivities and civil complaints to patronize policeauthorities; they however resort to informal policingstructures. The reasons advanced for not reportingtheir cases to police include: (a) perceived rise incrime/inability of the police to cope with the demandfor protection by the citizens, (b) poor perceptionsabout the ability of the criminal justice system torespond to the needs of the victims of crime and (c)inadequacies of the formal police service.Added to the above reasons is the perceivedfailure of the state to provide citizens with theprotection they require[8]. Of the three reasons foundin previous studies, the strongest appears to be rise incrime and perceived inadequacies of the police in theprovision of safety and security to the citizens,especially the poor.Jemibewon (2001)[4] also opines that lack of confidence in the police structures appears to be acrucial reason found in the literature on why citizensembrace informal policing structures. The publicshun the formal police structure because of community’s grievances against the police, theseperceived grievances include: corruption,incompetence, brutalisation of citizens andinstitutional failure.Furthermore, Del Buono (2003)[2] lendscredence to the view above that the police along withthe military are among the three most repressiveinstitutions in human society. The police are "largelyinactive" in their policing roles, but are active when itcomes to harassment of members of the public.
Community Policing Effort in Nigeria PoliceForce
The concept of community policing in theNigeria Police Force surfaced when some policeofficers were sent to England to understudycommunity policing as practised in the UK.Consequently, in 2004, it was officially launched insix pilot states (i.e. Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano,Ondo and Ogun). In 2008, in line with the president’sdeclaration of 7-point agenda, the then InspectorGeneral of Police introduced Community Policing asboth the strategy and philosophy of the entire NPF.Some of the existing instrument of communitypolicing in Nigeria Police force are:
 
Police/Community Relations Committees(PCRCs) (PCRCs)
 is an-ongoing committeesetup by the Nigeria Police Force. It works tobring together members of a locality’s diversecommunities and its police officers to improve
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011120http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
.
 
community and police relations, further anauthentic community policing culture, andpromote dignity, understanding, and respect inpolice and community interaction.The PCRC has been established in some partof the country to achieve the aforementionedobjective. For instance Community SafetyPartnerships have been introduced in twoDivisions in Lagos and FCT. The seniorrepresentatives involved – from LocalGovernment, police, the communities and manyother key agencies have made a commitment towork together in the future to gain a fullunderstanding of the local safety issues thataffect their communities and work in apartnership to resolve them.
 
Establishment of Community Safety andSecurity Forums
Community Safety and Security Forum isone of the recent efforts by the police to promotecommunity/police relationship with the primaryobjective of collectively fighting crime. Thepolice holds periodic meeting with thecommunity. The local government should beencouraged to play a key role in such structureeither as convenor or host. The local councils’halls have always served as venue for all kinds of community meetings and could serve as thevenue and secretariat for the forum. Theimportance of taking the hosting or organisationof the forum away from the police is toencourage partnership in crime prevention ratherthan paternalism, where the community membersare treated as mere informants. Participants insuch a forum should include representatives allstakeholders in crime prevention in thecommunity including women, non-indigenes and(Informal Police) IPS.However, this meeting has not beenconsistent. It is only conveyed when there isemergency situation as observed in the cases of Niger-Delta unrest and the Boko Haram inBornu State.
 
Impediments to The Success of CommunityPolicing In Nigeria
The following factors constituted impediments tothe successful implementation of community policingin Nigeria.
 
Internal resistance by policemen whobenefited from the traditional policing andwho prefer to maintain the
status quo
;
 
Lack of commitment to the project byimplementing officers;
 
Lack of support from members of the public;
 
Inadequate support from the government;
 
The hostile relationship between the policeand the informal policing machinery
 
Poor welfare package/incentives forpolicemen.
 
Public Attitudes towards Crime and Justice
III The Police Virtual Community Model
A community is a geographically circumscribedentity (neighborhoods, villages, etc) while A virtualcommunity is defined as an aggregation of individuals or business partners who interact around ashared interest, where the interaction is at leastpartially supported and/or mediated by technologyand guided by some protocols or norms[6]. Virtualcommunities can be dedicated to a specific topic, orthey can seek to bring people with similarphilosophies together. Either way, communication isdigitally based, information is shared andmembership is optional. Virtual communities, of course, are usually dispersed geographically, andtherefore are not communities under the originaldefinition of community. A virtual community isexpected to possess the following characteristics [7]:
 
It is organised around affinities or sharedinterests.
 
It supports many to many media communication.
 
The communication is graphics based supportingmultimedia content(e.g. graphics, animations,video, sounds, formatted text, sound)
 
No geographic boundary or physical contact.
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011121http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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