By Abuja Reporter
Cleen Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has called for the strengthening of police and its local communities’ relationship to boost effective policing.
Mrs Ruth Olofin, Acting Executive Director of the group made the call on Tuesday at a Two-Day methodology workshop on Democratic Policing in Local Communities.
The workshop was organised by the group to promote a relationship of trust between the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian people.
Olofin was represented by Mrs Chigozirim Okoro, Programme Manager of the group.
She said that all human security threats were a top priority concern for the global community which had gone beyond seeking state security to human security.
“This global stance on security collaborates with the aspiration of democratic policing, where police primarily safeguard the rights of people, ensure the security of people, maintain neutrality on political ideologies, and give people a voice.
“A significant obstacle in access to justice is when a community views its police with distrust, consequently, crimes may not be reported, people will be reluctant to come forward as witnesses and useful information on the crime will not be available.
“And at the extreme end of this continuum, the police themselves are viewed as the enemy in an increased risk of conflict and state fracture.
“Therefore strong relationships of mutual trust between police agencies and the communities are critical to maintaining public safety and effective policing,” she said.
Olofin said that it was therefore important for police personnel to rely on community members in providing information about crime in their neighborhood and to work with the police to solve problems of crime.
She noted that however, community members’ willingness to trust the police depends on whether they believed the police actions reflect community values and incorporate the principles of procedural justice and legitimacy.
Olofin urged the police to ensure they use the four central principles of procedural justice and legitimacy to ensure trust on the part of its local communities.
“The four central principles are; treating people with dignity and respect, giving citizens’ voice during an encounter, being neutral in decision making, and conveying trustworthy motives.
“It is imperative for security providers to secure, treasure, and uphold public trust and it can be achieved when the members of the community perceive the police to be fair, available, helpful, responsive, and give the complainant a voice.
“And the feeling of trust is based on the result of community members’ assessment of the conduct and performance of the members of the Nigerian Police Force in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties,” she said.
Mr Ndagi Mohammed, Vice Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) Kubwa Division, lauded the initiative of the group to train the police on democratic policing in local communities.
According to him, “this workshop and training is a much-needed one because we as police need to understand the dynamics of policing democratically without breaching or infringing on the rights of the citizens.
“This workshop is very good because we have been informed on how to police, build trust within our community with community members.
“This is key to enhancing policing in the community,” he said.
He, however, said that members of the community especially community leaders, ought to have been involved in the training for easy application of the knowledge gained.
He recommended all-inclusive training for community leaders, religious heads, youths and market leaders, owners of social centres, parents, and other community stakeholders.
ASP Saliu Umar, Kubwa division, said that when there was trust between the community and the police, the community would be crime-free.
“There will be law and order if only the community trusts the police to live up to its mandates by providing relevant information to aid effective policing.
“But where there is no trust or healthy relationship, useful information to assist the police would be hidden which is not good,” he said.
Inspector Glory Salami, urged the community to trust the police and not result to self-protection, but to allow the police to deliver on its constitutional mandates of safeguarding lives and properties.
She, however, appealed to the government at all levels not to wait until there was crisis before it provides personnel with resources for effective policing.