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Enhancing Community Policing Using a Virtual Community Model by ijcsiseditor


									                                            (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                            Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011


                                     Rufai M. M. and Adigun J. O
                                     Dept. of Computer Technology,
                                Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria

Abstract - Globalisation and Information                     community. Some of the factors responsible for the
Communication Technology have both exposed                   failure of the police in this regard may be lack of
people to perverted foreign cultures with                    understanding between members of the community
associated criminal tendencies. Consequently,                and the police. A situation where a communication
there has been an increase in the perpetration of            barrier exists between the police and the community
crimes in most communities especially in the                 residents aggravates the situation. An un-enlightened
developing nation like Nigeria. The Nigerian                 rural man sees the police as threat to the peace of
Police has made cogent effort in checking the                their land. Their conception is that the police have
upsurge of crimes, without significant success.              come to intrude into their privacy or have come to
Perhaps, one of the factors responsible for the              usurp the power of the community head[3].
failure is that the police have not integrated               Consequently, they meet the police with different
members of the community in their war against                unwelcome treatment. A community having such
crimes or an effective tool has not been employed            wrong impression needs to be enlightened and
in reaching members of the community. People                 adequately oriented on the role of the police in
have reservations for the Nigerian police on                 combating crime and the need for their support in
account of three reasons, namely: a) perceived rise          making the community peaceful.
in crime/inability of the police to cope with the
demand for protection by the citizens, (b) poor                      A.      Community Policing Concepts
perceptions about the ability of the criminal                         Community Policing can be defined as a
justice system to respond to the needs of the                philosophy of or an approach to policing which
victims of crime and (c) inadequacies of the                 recognizes the interdependence and shared
formal police service. This paper discusses how              responsibility of the police and the community in
community policing can be enhanced using virtual             ensuring a safe and secure environment for all the
community. It describes the modus operandi of                people of the country. Community Policing aims to
existing community policing approach in Nigeria,             establish an active and equal partnership between the
the associated problems and the changes                      police and the public through which crime and
information technology can make. As part of this             community safety issues can jointly be determined
research we will review relevant literature on               and solutions designed and implemented. Community
existing virtual communities and we will develop a           policing seeks to achieve the following objectives:
virtual community model for effective community
policing. The paper concludes that community                     •                 Service orientation: The safety of
policing can better be enhanced using a virtual                           the community is prioritized. The
community model (VCM).                                                    community is seen as the client and the
                                                                          service need of the client is given proper
Key words: Community Policing, Virtual                                    attention. The service orientation is client-
Community                                                                 centered.

            I.      INTRODUCTION                                 •                 Partnership: The police see the
                                                                          community as partners in the battle against
         The high rate of crime in urban and rural                        crime. Consequently, the community needs
communities call for a review of our approach to                          and policing priorities are determined
crimes fighting and its prevention. Some of the                           through consultation with the community.
frequently reported crimes are kidnapping, robbery,
murder, terrorism, tribal feud to mention but a few.
                                                                 •                 Problem solving: This relates to
The survey conducted by Centre for Law
                                                                          the joint identification and analysis of the
Enforcement Education in Nigeria (CLEEN)[1] on
                                                                          actual and potential causes of crime and
crime rates revealed that Murder crime increased
                                                                          conflict within communities. This analysis
from 1629 to 2133 in the year 1994 to 2003. These
                                                                          guides the development of measures to
crimes are perpetrated by members of the

                                                                                             ISSN 1947-5500
                                               (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                               Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

         address such problems over the short-,                  •    Why People Lost Trust In Traditional Police
         medium- and long-term.                                       Structures
                                                                           Literature on policing has revealed several
    •    Empowerment: This refers to the creation                reasons why people shun reporting of criminal
         of a sense of joint responsibility and a joint          activities and civil complaints to patronize police
         capacity for addressing crime, service                  authorities; they however resort to informal policing
         delivery and safety and security amongst                structures. The reasons advanced for not reporting
         members of the community and The Police                 their cases to police include: (a) perceived rise in
         Service personnel.                                      crime/inability of the police to cope with the demand
                                                                 for protection by the citizens, (b) poor perceptions
    •    Accountability: Accountability will be                  about the ability of the criminal justice system to
         realized by creating mechanisms through                 respond to the needs of the victims of crime and (c)
         which the Police can be made answerable                 inadequacies of the formal police service.
         for addressing the needs and concerns of the
         communities they serve.                                          Added to the above reasons is the perceived
                                                                 failure of the state to provide citizens with the
                                                                 protection they require[8]. Of the three reasons found
    II       THE EXISTING SYSTEM (THE                            in previous studies, the strongest appears to be rise in
           NIGERIA POLICE FORCE)                                 crime and perceived inadequacies of the police in the
                                                                 provision of safety and security to the citizens,
•    Legal framework for The Nigeria Police Force                especially the poor.
     The Nigeria Police Force is constitutionally
empowered to provide security for lives and property                       Jemibewon (2001)[4] also opines that lack
of Nigerians. This vital security apparatus derives its          of confidence in the police structures appears to be a
existence from Section 214 (1) of the 1999                       crucial reason found in the literature on why citizens
Constitution which stipulates that "there shall be a             embrace informal policing structures. The public
Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the            shun the formal police structure because of
Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of           community’s grievances against the police, these
this section, no other police force shall be established         perceived       grievances     include:    corruption,
for the Federation or any part thereof" (The                     incompetence, brutalisation of citizens and
Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.                     institutional failure.
                                                                           Furthermore, Del Buono (2003)[2] lends
     Furthermore, Section 4 of the Police Act, 1990              credence to the view above that the police along with
outlines the general duties of the Police as follows :           the military are among the three most repressive
"The police shall be employed for the prevention                 institutions in human society. The police are "largely
and detection of crime, the apprehension of                      inactive" in their policing roles, but are active when it
offenders, the preservation of law and order, the                comes to harassment of members of the public.
protection of life and property, and the due
enforcement of all laws and regulations with which               Community Policing Effort in Nigeria Police
they are directly charged and shall perform such                 Force
military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be                   The concept of community policing in the
required of them, by or under the authority of this or           Nigeria Police Force surfaced when some police
any other Act." That these duties of ensuring order,             officers were sent to England to understudy
safety and security are important t to the making of a           community policing as practised in the UK.
good society is not in doubt.                                    Consequently, in 2004, it was officially launched in
                                                                 six pilot states (i.e. Benue, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano,
     Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution,                Ondo and Ogun). In 2008, in line with the president’s
stipulates that: "The police shall be employed for the           declaration of 7-point agenda, the then Inspector
prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension              General of Police introduced Community Policing as
of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the             both the strategy and philosophy of the entire NPF.
protection of life and property, and the due
enforcement of all laws and regulations with which                    Some of the existing instrument of community
they are directly charged and shall perform such                 policing in Nigeria Police force are:
military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be
required of them, by or under the authority of this or           •   Police/Community Relations Committees
any other Act."                                                      (PCRCs) (PCRCs) is an-ongoing committee
                                                                     setup by the Nigeria Police Force. It works to
                                                                     bring together members of a locality’s diverse
                                                                     communities and its police officers to improve

                                                                                               ISSN 1947-5500
                                             (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                             Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

    community and police relations, further an                 Impediments to The Success of Community
    authentic community policing culture, and                  Policing In Nigeria
    promote dignity, understanding, and respect in                  The following factors constituted impediments to
    police and community interaction.                          the successful implementation of community policing
                                                               in Nigeria.
         The PCRC has been established in some part                 • Internal resistance by policemen who
    of the country to achieve the aforementioned                        benefited from the traditional policing and
    objective. For instance Community Safety                            who prefer to maintain the status quo;
    Partnerships have been introduced in two                        • Lack of commitment to the project by
    Divisions in Lagos and FCT. The senior                              implementing officers;
    representatives involved – from Local                           •                                                 L
    Government, police, the communities and many                        ack of support from members of the public;
    other key agencies have made a commitment to                    • Inadequate support from the government;
    work together in the future to gain a full                      • The hostile relationship between the police
    understanding of the local safety issues that                       and the informal policing machinery
    affect their communities and work in a                          •                                                 P
    partnership to resolve them.                                        oor     welfare    package/incentives     for
•   Establishment of Community Safety and                           •                                                 P
    Security Forums                                                     ublic Attitudes towards Crime and Justice
         Community Safety and Security Forum is
    one of the recent efforts by the police to promote           III      The Police Virtual Community Model
    community/police relationship with the primary
    objective of collectively fighting crime. The                   A community is a geographically circumscribed
    police holds periodic meeting with the                     entity (neighborhoods, villages, etc) while A virtual
    community. The local government should be                  community is defined as an aggregation of
    encouraged to play a key role in such structure            individuals or business partners who interact around a
    either as convenor or host. The local councils’            shared interest, where the interaction is at least
    halls have always served as venue for all kinds of         partially supported and/or mediated by technology
    community meetings and could serve as the                  and guided by some protocols or norms[6]. Virtual
    venue and secretariat for the forum. The                   communities can be dedicated to a specific topic, or
    importance of taking the hosting or organisation           they can seek to bring people with similar
    of the forum away from the police is to                    philosophies together. Either way, communication is
    encourage partnership in crime prevention rather           digitally based, information is shared and
    than paternalism, where the community members              membership is optional. Virtual communities, of
    are treated as mere informants. Participants in            course, are usually dispersed geographically, and
    such a forum should include representatives all            therefore are not communities under the original
    stakeholders in crime prevention in the                    definition of community. A virtual community is
    community including women, non-indigenes and               expected to possess the following characteristics [7]:
    (Informal Police) IPS.                                     • It is organised around affinities or shared
        However, this meeting has not been                     • It supports many to many media communication.
    consistent. It is only conveyed when there is              • The communication is graphics based supporting
    emergency situation as observed in the cases of                 multimedia content(e.g. graphics, animations,
    Niger-Delta unrest and the Boko Haram in                        video, sounds, formatted text, sound)
    Bornu State.                                               • No geographic boundary or physical contact.

                                                                                           ISSN 1947-5500
                                                         (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                         Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

                                                                   Virtual Community


                       users                       Communication
                                                                              Data Extraction       Police
                                                                                & Analysis         Database
                      Users include                                                                                   Police
                  Community members,                Conference
                     Mass Media,                     Meeting                                                          Force
                 Government Agencies
             Non Governmental Organisations


                                                                                    •    Foreign security agencies
                                                                                    •    Foreign governments
          The aforementioned features of virtual community
pose greater benefits for community policing. A successful                         The understanding is that each member can
community policing requires constant interaction between the              communicate with police on issue of common interest or any
police and members of the community. It may be difficult at               other issues.
times to have regular physical interaction with these members
at all time. It is on this note that Virtual Community model is                    However, a member must apply for membership
required to bridge the communication gap between the police               through the virtual community before he becomes a member.
and members of the community.                                             The police are at the centre of the communication. All
                                                                          members, send their messages to the police via the virtual
         The proposed virtual community is a web based                    community. The police can initiate discussion with members.
model that will facilitate interaction between the police and             Likewise members are at liberty to start a discussion with the
members of the community. Its primary objective is to provide             police.
a platform for the police to interact with members of the
public on issues of common interest such as security and                           However, provision for members to interact with one
safety. This interaction is intended to facilitate the fulfilment         another is discouraged. The reason for this is to protect the
of the objective of community policing.                                   identity of members and also protect the information supplied
                                                                          by members. The system is said to be centralised.
   Three issues are central to the design of the police virtual
community. These are:                                                              The representative of the police has administrators
                                                                          right. He approves members registration, coordinates
    i) The Virtual Work Place Environments                                discussion, store relevant information in the database and can
    ii) The Services                                                      de-member a member if situation warrants.
    iii) The communication tools
                                                                          B. Services

                                                                               It can be observed from figure one the types of interaction
A. The Virtual Work Place Environment                                     that can take place between the police and the community
                                                                          members. These are:
The virtual work place environment describes the entities that
constitute community members, how they are represented in                 •   Registration: This is required of every member before he
the police virtual community and the access status of each.                   is admitted as a member. The ideal is that if a member
The community members’ categories include:                                    applies for registration, he supplies all personal details as
                                                                              requested by the police. The police can then use their
         •      The Police                                                    security network to investigate the member before
         •      Inter-security agency                                         approval is given for membership. The diagram below
         •      Other government agencies                                     describes the registration procedures.
         •      Business
         •      Community
         •      Mass Media
         •      CSOs/NGOs

                                                                                                       ISSN 1947-5500
                                                       (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                       Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

                                                                         C. The Tools

                                                                              Various communications tools could be used in
                                                                         facilitating interaction between the police and the public. The
                                                                         available tools are:

                                                                         •        Email:- The Virtual environment must have provision for
                                                                                  members to communicate through electronic mail using
                                                                                  members virtual identity as email address. Mails can be
                                                                                  sent even when the other member is not available online.
                                                                                  The mail will go into its mail box and he can access it
                                                                                  when he is available.
                                                                         •        Chat: Members can engage in real time conversation
                                                                                  through text or voice charting

                                                                              There should be a central webpage which will contain the
                                                                         police mission statements, important information for the
                                                                         public, a report of police success in various communities.

                                                                              Irrespective of the communication tools available, the
                                                                         following are recommended for successful interaction:

                                                                                  •   The virtual environment should support members in
                                                                                      their decision to communicate
                                                                                  •   It should allow users to choose among a range of
                                                                                      communication types
                                                                                  •   It should provide the necessary tools to initiate
                                                                                      communication as if users are in the real world
                                                                                  •   It should support user requirements such as use of
                                                                                      gestures during communication mediated within the
                                                                                      virtual world.

                                                                             IV        Recommendations for The Success of The Police
                                                                                              Virtual Community.

                                                                                  •   The Nigerian government should improve on the
                                                                                      present infrastructural facilities such as the provision
                                                                                      of electricity supply and communication facilities.
                                                                                  •   Computer literacy and proficiency should be
                                                                                      promoted among the populace.
                                                                                  •   Computers and its accessories should be affordable
                                                                                  •   The virtual community must be in operation round
                                                                                      the clock i.e. 24hours in a day and seven days in a
Communication:- This can be inform of a discussion with the                       •   The police officer in charge of the virtual community
police on issues requiring urgent attention. An example is                            must constantly monitor the web sites and actively
reporting a crime case, or reporting security threat in an area.                      participate in the citizen/police interaction
The police can as well send security alert message to members                     •   Continous solicitation of new members will keep the
of the community. Part of communication is for the police to                          site fresh and productive
render an account of their stewardship to the public. This will
build the public’s confidence in the police.

•   Meetings: The police can organise a meeting with the                            IV        Benefits of Virtual Community
    virtual presence of other members of the community. The              Interaction with the police through virtual means as observed
    meeting agenda may problem solving issues. They can                  in the role of virtual communities offers a better option in
    also organise a seminar on empowerment.                              crime reporting and community policing. It has some inherited
•   Training: The police can organise training on security               benefits or advantages as highlighted below:
    tips. They can sensitise members of the public on a newly
    enacted law so that the public can be aware.                         1.       Increase community access to law enforcement
•   Opinion Polls: Polls can be conducted online on issues of                     information and services to the community. It can
    common security interest. The results of such polls will                      facilitate police-community dialogue, increasing
    aid the police decision making system.                                        transparency and enabling accurate and timely

                                                                                                          ISSN 1947-5500
                                                       (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                       Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011
     information sharing that can inform police response                 [7] Rheingold, Howard. (1994). “The Virtual Community:
     strategies and save lives.                                              Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier”. Addison-
2.   Reduce barriers to information sharing within and among                 Wesley, Reading, MA.
     law enforcement agencies across regions and across                  [8] Scharf, W. (2000) “Community Justice and Community
     disciplines. That makes it easier to achieve multi-                     Policing in Post-Apartheid South Africa. How
     jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary coordinated                       Appropriate are the Justice Systems of Africa?’ Paper
     responses to emergencies.                                               delivered at the International Workshop on the Rule of
3.   Enhance problem-solving efforts through the collection of               Law and Development: Citizen Security, Rights and Life
     timely and accurate data fed through robust information                 Choices in Low and Middle Income Countries Institute for
     systems.                                                                Development Studies, University of Sussex 1-3 June
4.   Enable standardization and access of local, state, tribal,              2000.
     and federal data collection and data-sharing protocols and          [9] The Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
     information systems, which in turn, can enable the
     analysis and production of actionable intelligence.                     Rufai Mohammed Mutiu obtained his B.Sc degree from
5.   Enable organizational efficiencies that inform deployment               Ogun State University (Presently Olabisi Onabanjo
     strategies, improve response times, and create                          University), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria. He got his
     opportunities for community policing activities.
                                                                             Masters in Computer Science from University of Lagos,
6.   Improve recruitment strategies and training availability,
     through online recruitment portals and training                         Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria. He is a member of Nigeria
     opportunities.                                                          Computer Society and presently lectures at Yaba College
                                                                             of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria. His research area is
                     V.       Conclusion                                     Information Systems Design and Modelling.

         Reaping our society off crime and security hazard is a               Adigun Johnson Oyeranmi is a specialists in computer
desirable factor. Consequently, justifying the need for an                   software, security and knowledge management. He
effective tool in Enhancing Community Policing. There might                  obtained his first degree (B.Sc Computer Science) from
be some long term reduction in crime rates if the police were                University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria and his
able to establish better relation with the public and increase               Masters(M.Sc. Computer Science) from University of
public trust in them so that more crimes were reported. Virtual              Lagos. He is a member Nigeria Computer Society of
Community policing offers an effective way to have regular                   Nigeria and Computer Professionals Council of Nigeria.
and constant interaction with the community members. It                      He is the current Dean of The School of Technology,
could also be a forum for moulding people’s opinon on                        Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos.
sensitive security and governmental issues.

          The creation of a special unit of whatever designation
to monitor and analysis the community interaction with the
police      will     fit     that      overall    aim.     Such
departmentalization/specialization need not be the subject of
legislative but administrative action.

Additionally, the government need to provide infracstructure
in various communities. At least infracstructure that will
facilitate communication.

[1] Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria
    (CLEEN) Statistics on Crime, 2003
[2] Del Buono, V. (2003) “In Search of Security”, paper
    presented at In Search of Security: An International
    Conference, Canada, February 19-22, 2003.
[3] George O. S. Amadi (2011), “The Impact of Police
    Checkpoints on Crime and Policing in Nigeria” Faculty of
    Law, University of Nigeria
[4] Jemibewon, D. (2001) “The Nigerian Experience” in M.
    Shaw (ed.) Crime and Policing in
[5] Transitional Societies, Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer
    Stiftung and South African Institute of International
[6] Preece, Jenny (2000). ”Online Communities: Designing
    Usability, Supporting Sociability”. John Wiley & Sons,
    Chichester, UK. ISBN 0-471-80599-8

                                                                                                    ISSN 1947-5500

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