The role of community policing in crime prevention: Kirinyaga county, Central Kenya
Muchira, Joseph Mwaniki
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Community policing was first initiated in London in 1829 by Metropolitan Police District. The British parliament hoped to address the soaring crime rate in and around the nation’s capital when it was growing. Community policing was also initiated in South Africa in the early 1990’s. It was aimed at democratizing and legitimizing the police. Later there was a shift towards improving service delivery and tackling crime issues. The initiative succeeded in building trust between citizens and the police. Community policing is a Government funded initiative built on the premise that everyone should be working to reduce the fear of crime. According to Kenya Police data across all counties in Kenya who have implemented community policing revealed that there have been a raise in crime levels in Kirinyaga County while in counties like Nakuru where community policing is implemented, the level of crime has fallen. In Kirinyaga County crime levels have been raising for the last three years despite presence of community policing practiced as Nyumba Kumi Innitiative hence my choice for research. This research work is focused on the use of community policing as a method for crime reduction in Kirinyaga County of Central Kenya. This research study was guided by the following objectives: to analyze the effectiveness of joint community-police patrols in prevention of crime in Kirinyaga County, to find out the effectiveness of youth vigilante groups as a means of crime prevention in the County and to analyze the role played by community courts process to reduce crimes in the county. The researcher employed descriptive survey analysis using both qualitative and quantitative approach. A Sample population of two hundred community members picked from ten wards out of twenty wards of the County making fifty percent from the county words were sampled, with joint patrol groups, youth vigilante groups, officers commanding police stations within the county and administrative officers as the respondents. The respondents were selected through cluster sampling comprising of government security agents. The questionnaires were distributed to the relevant respondents, filled in, collected and analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics and presented in form of tables, charts and graphs. The data was analyzed using various statistical soft-wares such as Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), and Microsoft Excel. These quantitative data were complimented and triangulated with qualitative data from focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The findings indicate that joint police-community patrols as well as the engagement of vigilante groups and community courts have contributed to crime prevention in Kirinyaga County. Between the three areas of focus, the court process was found to less effective. The people of Kirinyaga County will benefit from the information resulting on from this research. The study may bring out the areas that may need more research, education and attitude change towards community policing and management measures to be put in place to reduce crime in future. The research is significant to the people of Kirinyaga County by contributing to their better understanding of the extent to which community policing can help in crime prevention. It will also serve to inform the government on the effect and best methods of community policing.