Technical approaches to police reform

Mazar-E-Shariff- Newly graduated Afghan Border Policeman (ABP) stand in formation in front of instructors during a graduation from the Afghan Border Patrol training center June 10, 2010. The ABP guard all border provinces of Afghanistan, being responsible for defending all borders against enemy threats and counter narcotics. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sergeant Matt Davis)

Technical support is needed after conflicts where the police often lack basic resources, such as intact stations, office equipment, vehicles, trained staff, and finances to pay salaries and fuel. Many police reforms thus focus on the technical aspects of reforms; on providing material resources and infrastructure, (re-)establishing and restructuring rule of law institutions and training in standard operations and response.

These investments are important, as resource scarcity can lead to strategies that could be defined as “petty corruption”. For example, insufficient resources may lead to the introduction of a “user-pays principle”, where police service is dependent upon the public’s ability to provide direct payment. It may also lead to police dependency upon other actors, for instance having to rely on borrowing vehicles from other organizations to travel to a crime scene. Technical support is thus crucial toward improving police efficiency and equal police service provision.

Technical support can also aid community policing processes, for example the decentralization of the police to allow more contact with communities. This may also include infrastructural improvements of police stations facilitate access for vulnerable groups. In police stations across Pakistan, for example, women desks have been set up where women police are attending women related issues. These desks are mean to encourage women to report crime and provide a more accurate picture of violence against women.

While these technical approaches may be important to reform, they are limited in their capacity to promote COP. Successful implementation of COP requires an emphasis on improving how police relate to local communities. You can read more here “Social approaches to police reform”.