While there are many existing handbooks on COP, they are often prescriptive how-to-guides providing generic approaches to police reform. This e-handbook stresses the importance of adopting a context-specific approach to COP since every post-conflict context is different. In this section we outline the key issues identified as crucial for anyone involved in promoting COP to consider. We give particular attention to the importance of understanding the human security needs and concerns of various societal groups at local level (including more vulnerable groups such as women and youth). We believe the more conventional drivers of police reform (the police, government and donors) would benefit from these often-missing voices and insights. Likewise, we believe that the e-Handbook will provide civil society actors at local level with new insights into the realities of police work in post-conflict settings and more particularly the constraints the police are faced with when implementing COP.
This e-Handbook has been designed as a catalyst for exploration, reflection and debate and is structured around five, main questions:
- How should we understand police-community relations?
- How should we understand security and insecurity?
- Who are the actors involved in security provision?
- Who is the “community” in COP?
- How can Information Communication Technology (ICT) promote COP?
As a user of the e-Handbook, and a promoter of COP, we encourage you – when entering a new context – to use these questions (with the accompanying texts and promising practices) to initiate joint, critical discussions with your colleagues and counterparts. Consider the specific local conditions and local history and politics influence conceptions of insecurity and the policing at local level. This will ensure that attention to context and local ownership remain at the heart of COP implementation.