Our Approach to COP

Our research in the ICT4COP project has identified three key elements of promising COP practices that refine prior conceptions of COP. These elements are:

  1. Reciprocal Partnerships 

    COP initiatives must encourage different types of actors – including both police and local communities – to work together in reciprocal partnerships.

      • Reciprocal partnerships between the police and local communities are necessary for the promotion on mutual trust, legitimacy and accountability.
  1. Human Security

    The COP mandate must be broadened beyond physical security to address a multitude of insecurities through the adoption of a human security perspective.

      • A human security perspective will ensure the incorporation of local communities’ broader (in)security concerns and safety needs into COP strategies and practices. It also promotes collaboration across sectors.
  1. Context sensitivity

    COP should be based on an in-depth understanding of the local context. This includes how the history of state formation and conflicts have shaped state-citizen relationships, and with that the relationships between local communities and police.

      • A context-sensitive approach will allow for locally driven initiatives and participation to shape COP strategies and activities, and thus also promote local ownership

While much of the focus of these e-handbooks is on internationally assisted police reforms and recent COP initiatives, it is important to acknowledge the many already existing COP-like arrangements at local levels around the world. While some of these have been in place for generations, others were imposed externally but then adjusted to local circumstances over time. Some of these initiatives work very well and represent good alternatives to dysfunctional state programs, while others do not. You many read more about the various actors involved in security provision here.

Based on the above, the ICT4COP project proposes a slight revision of the UNPOL definition:

“COP is a strategy to enhance human security by encouraging the police and the public to act as partners in preventing and managing crime based on the needs of the community. In order for this strategy to work, ties of confidence and trust between the police and community are essential”.

In this Digital Story we summarize our approach to COP.