Project Topic – REDUCING CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA THROUGH COMMUNITY POLICING – A STUDY OF AKWANGA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, NASARAWA STATE, NIGERIA
- Background of the Study
Crime is said to be a serious social problem that directly reduces the quality of life of individuals and the community. It causes economics, health and psychological effects on victims and the society at large. Police are the most visible institution concerned with fighting crime twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. Morgan, (2006) community policing has become a major issue for many countries and Nigeria is not an exception. According to Taye, (2011) community policing is the best way of policing currently, and Abebe (2004) said that working together with the community on the basis of partnership should be the primary concern of the police.
Crime causes economic, health, well being, psychological effects on victims and society at larg. Crime is a serious social problem that directly reduces the quality of the life of individuals and the community (O‘Block et al., 1991:8). Beside, the police are the most visible institution devoted in fighting crime twenty four hour a day and seven days a week. In support of this idea, Morgan states, the primary function of police is concerned with preventing crime and catching criminals (Morgan 1996:1). So the primary function of police is to prevent and detect crime.
However, the police without the lively involvement of the community face difficulty in tackling crime. Palmiotto (2000) further strengthens the idea by saying, ‘the police cannot succeed in solving or preventing crime without the assistance of the community’. Thus to prevent crime successfully there must be community partnership and involvement.
This fact indicates the need of involving the community, the local government and the police to work together to tackle crime. Therefore, community policing has become a major issue for many countries in the world. As Abebe (cited in Taye Kejia dissertation 2011) states in his paper: ‘Community policing is the best way of policing currently; working together with the community on the basis of partnership should be the primary concern of the police’ (Abebe, 2000:4).
The Nigeria government announced the police service should be based on the participation of the people, this was mentioned in the federal police formation. Consequently it shows the concern of the government in establishing community policing in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the establishment of community policing structure from household level often referred as family police to citycommunity policing Advisory council has been taken as an attempt to implement community policing in Nasarawa State city as a whole and Akwanga Local Government Area in particular.
The Akwanga Local Government Area is highly prone to crime occurrence because of the availability of illegal chat chewing houses, secret areas used for drug selling, many night clubs which caused group and individual fighting, absence of street light and presence of slums in some areas created suitable situation for criminals, low initiative of the community to collaborate with the police in exposing criminals, corrupt police officials and in fact the inadequate number of police force.
Aforementioned reasons created a fertile ground for the escalation of crime in the sub city. So as to preventing crime in the area needs the collaboration of all section of the society, the police and sub city administration, hence, community policing. Based on this new idea of community policing (CP), Bahil adarash police have been trying to implement the community policing philosophy in crime prevention schemes in order to tackle the ever-increasing crime situations in the sub city.
- Statement of the Problem
According to the Nasarawa State city municipal police head office and the Akwanga Police Department (APD) indicate that there had been a huge number of diversified, complex and serious crimes recorded in the previous three years. In addition, there has been an increase in crime in both the number of crimes committed and in their complexity. As well, the police have long lists of causes for the problems, include a rapid urbanization rate, a high increase in street children, unemployment and drug abuse (Nasarawa State city police department). It is clear that in Nasarawa State as a whole and Bahil adarash in particular is facing social problems especially occurrence of complex crime. Furthermore the continually changing tactics of criminals made crime more complex. The most common, serious and repeated crimes committed are: property theft, domestic violence, abuse of child labor, drug abuse, burglary and other social disorders like group fighting.
The fight against crime, fear of crime and situations of disorder in the sub city are increased compared to 2004(EC) with 61 crimes and 67 crimes in 2005(EC) through strengthening the police-community relation and socio-economic development. However, based on the information gathered from Akwanga Police Department (APD) ‘the magnitude, complexity and rate of crime were increasing’. Even though the police are attempting to fully control crime and allay the fears of the community, it is getting worse due to their small number. Furthermore, the bad levels of socio-economic status of some areas like tarekegn sefer (slum area of the sub-city) takes part in escalating crime. Some members of community hesitation in exposing criminals and even hiding them from the police sight also contributed for rise of crime (APD 2006EC).
In addition to the above, Taye Kejia tried to note that the police lack skill in implementing community policing. As he quoted, ‘those who are engaged in crime prevention have not been involved in to community policing planning and implementation workshop training. Even those who have attended training courses do not have a clear understanding of the theoretical concepts of community policing and its practical aspects’ (Taye Kejia 2011,pp 4). As to Shiffa (cited in Taye Kejia dissertation), ‘Most of the activities were a ”one-off” campaign and neither consistent nor supported by prior research. Most plans of the town police regarding community policing are only a plan on paper (Shiffa, 2005:61–62)’. Thus, Taye Kejia argues that the Nasarawa State police ‘lack community policing skills’. Whereas Shiffa debate that not only lack of community policing skills, but also ‘its ill implementation’ were manifested in Nasarawa State as a whole and Akwanga Local Government Area in particular.
Hence, one may ask whether community policing has been implemented to its full potential. The evidence shows that the strategy has to be more researched to asses to what extent the continuing implementation of community policing played its role in preventing crime and its prospects and challenges. Besides, not enough research either pre or post implementation of CP conducted in case of Akwanga Local Government Area. Furthermore, since the researcher was born and still lives in the sub city, he needs to contribute something useful for the well being and safety of the community. This very fact triggers one‘s desire to conduct research in order to assess the role of community policing in preventing crime and its challenges that affect the implementation as well as its prospect in Akwanga Local Government Area.
1.3. Objective of the Study
1.3.1. General Objective
The general objective of the study is to reduce crime and violence in Nigeria through community policing through point out the challenge it faces and its prospects in Akwanga Local Government Area administration of Nasarawa State.
1.3.2. Specific Objectives of the Study
The study will have the following specific objectives;
- Assess the role of community policing in crime prevention in Akwanga Local Government Area
- Evaluate the success of the Akwanga Local Government Area community policing
- Analyze the challenges of community policing
- Illuminate the prospect of community policing in the sub city
- Provide comments to alleviate obstacles for efficient implementation of community policing in Akwanga Local Government Area.
1.4.Research Questions to be Addressed
In the end, the study poses the following basic questions up on which the entire research undertakings will attempt to answer.
- What are the silent features of community policing in crime prevention?
- How far the practice of community policing in the sub city helped in preventing and reducing crime?
- What are/were the critical challenges of community policing in Akwanga Local Government Area?
- How the prospect of community policing in the Akwanga Local Government Area can be explained? What should be done to alleviate the obstacles that hinder efficient implementation of community policing?
1.5. Significance of the Study
The overall findings of the study may contribute in:
- Providing viable experience and direction in fighting crime through community policing in Nasarawa State city in general and the study area in particular.
- Understanding the challenges of community policing in other sub cities of Nasarawa State in general and the Akwanga Local Government Area in particular.
Hence the results of the study, based on its objectives, might become valuable for those implementers in the community policing and police sector in general.
The scope of the study delimited to the role, challenges and prospects of community policing implementation in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State city Administration.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The study would have been sounder if it includes all sub cities found in Nasarawa State city administration. However, for the sake of its manageability and because of scarcity of financial resources, it is delimited to Akwanga Local Government Area.
1.8 Organization of the Study
This thesis is structured as follows: Chapter one presents the introduction part, statement of the problem, objective of the study, Research questions and significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study as well as definition of operational terms. The second chapter deals with a review of related literature on community policing concepts like characteristics, roles, principles and philosophy. In addition, crime prevention principles and models also treated in this chapter. The third chapter explains methodology of the research, data collection & sampling techniques. The fourth chapter describes the results (findings) and discussion of the descriptive statistics. The fifth and the final chapter provide summary, conclusion and recommendations.
1.9. Definition of Operational Terms
Some conceive community as a geographic area and others look community as an area of common life. The following definitions shows the essence of community, According to UN office on drugs and crime, “community” can refer to small neighborhoods, areas within a city, or small villages or towns, or in some cases groups of citizens with particular concerns (criminal justice hand book series, 2010:2). In addition as Taye Kejia stated in his dissertation, ‘A community is defined as any group of people which is likely to have a number of characteristics in common such as, geographical area, occupation, ethnicity, economic status, shared government and a common cultural and historical heritage’ (Taye Kejia,2011:7). Moreover, as stated by Oliver (2004:237), ‘community is the term that refers to a group of people who share three things: they live in a geographically distinct area (such as a city or town), they share cultural characteristics, attitudes and lifestyles and they interact with one another on a sustained basis.
Thus, community could be understood as group of people sharing the same city, similar social class, having same culture, sharing the same objectives and have similar psychological makeup.
Crime is an illegal activity which causes physical or moral injuries on others. According to the Nigerian criminal code of 2006, Article 23, sub article 1, crime is an act which is prohibited and made punishable by law (Nigeria criminal code). Crime is the omission of a duty that makes the offender liable to punishment by law or a behavior that is prohibited, as well as behavior or an act that is required by law (Sullivan, 2002:302; Stevens, 2003:37; Crowe, 2000:15).
Policing is an activity directed towards the prevalence of justice and security by the police or others. According to Wilson and Brewer (1995:316), ‘policing is concerned with diverse collection of issues and practices. It is also a social service created by human beings, rendered by human beings to human beings in an environment shaped by human beings’. Policing is a means to justice and to the security of individual liberty (Stevens, 2003:22). Thus, policing is a service delivered by a police to the community for their own well being. In addition the police were not the only institution in policing activity, the community, concerned government agencies and nongovernmental organization also have role.
Police is a trained person in crime prevention and investigation for the purpose of maintaining the peace and security of the community. Beside above mentioned definition, Stevens described the police as, ‘the force that has the power to exercise reasonable control over persons and property within its jurisdiction, in the interests of general security, health, safety, morals and welfare, except where legally prohibited’ (Stevens, 2003:22). According to the National Crime Prevention Institute of the University of Louisville (NCPI, 2001:33–34) the people use the police as a means to achieve and maintain order. Their efforts are founded on principles of public services and ultimate responsibility to the public. So police is a trained person in policing activities like preventing crime, enforce the law and maintain public order to ensure community safety.
1.9.5. Community Partnership
Community partnership is a flexible term referring to any combination of neighbourhood residents, schools, churches, businesses, community-based organizations, elected officials and government agencies who are working co-operatively with the police to resolve identified problems. It is also a state or condition of being a partner, of participation, association, or joint interest of the relationship subsisting between partners (Taye Kejia 2010 pp 9). Thus, in light of the research community partnership could be understood as the cooperation of any form community with the police or other organization or institutions.
1.9.6. Community Policing
Community policing involve the importance of active partnership between the police, civil societies, and other agencies of government work together in identifying and solving problems to improve the overall quality of life as whole and crime prevention in particular.
As stated by Deluca and Stone (1994:85): ―Community policing is the desire to bring policing closer to citizens whose lives and property are supposed to be protected.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA: 1994) states: ‘Community policing is democracy in action. It requires the active participation of local government, civic and business leaders, public and private agencies, residents, churches, schools and hospitals. All who share a concern for the welfare of the neighbourhood should work together with police officers. The above-mentioned bodies must take a unified stand against crime, violence and disregard for the law and must make a commitment to increasing crime prevention and intervention activities (BJA 1994:4).
1.9.7. Crime Prevention
Crime prevention is an attempt to eliminate crime either prior to the initial occurrence or before further activity (Lab, 1997:19). According to the NCPI, crime prevention is a practical method for the direct control of crime. It involves analyzing criminal attack methods and designing specific actions within the environments of potential victims to reduce criminal opportunities and manage the crime risk (NCPI, 2001:7).
By and large purpose of community policing is to prevent crime effectively through the full involvement of citizens. This may lead to a situation where the citizens of a country feel free to live and reduce fear of crime.
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Project Topic – REDUCING CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA THROUGH COMMUNITY POLICING – A STUDY OF AKWANGA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, NASARAWA STATE, NIGERIA