FEATURE27 April 2022

On the beat: community policing in developing countries

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Community policing is a tactic used in many developed nations, including the UK. But can its principles transfer successfully to less economically developed countries? Liam Kay investigates.

Side of UK police car door

Do you know your local police officer? Do you often see police patrolling your neighbourhood? If the answer is yes, then you are possibly the beneficiary of community policing strategies.

Community policing focuses on improving communication and collaboration between police and citizens, often using tactics such as increased frequency of beat patrols, decentralised decision-making, acting on public intelligence around crime, and community engagement programmes. The policy is used in many parts of the world including the UK, the US and across the European Union.

But how does community policing work in countries with higher crime rates and steeper levels of economic deprivation? Graeme Blair, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, led a project examining how community policing strategies could work in less affluent nations, running six coordinated field experiments in Brazil, Colombia, Liberia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uganda.

“We have very little evidence about whether community policing works in the wide variety of places using it now, ...