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Community policing through local collective action in Tanzania: Sungusungu to Ulinzi Shirikishi

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posted on 2023-06-08, 16:25 authored by Charlotte Cross
Community policing (polisi jamii) was officially introduced in Tanzania in 2006 as part of an ongoing police reform programme. In addition to attempting to improve communication between police and the public, the police have promoted ulinzi shirikishi (participatory security), whereby citizens are encouraged to form neighbourhood policing institutions to prevent and detect crime. This thesis presents the findings of research conducted in the city of Mwanza that explored the extent to which community policing has improved residents’ perceptions of local security and constitutes a form of policing which is responsive, accountable and sustainable. Whilst ulinzi shirikishi is widely credited with having improved local safety, it has proved difficult to sustain collective action through community policing and the costs and benefits of participation have been unequally distributed across ‘communities’. These outcomes should be understood in terms of the context of how local development is organised and understood in Tanzania. Firstly, existing local governance institutions lack transparency and meaningful accountability mechanisms and are highly dependent upon personal preferences and capacity. Secondly, local development is politicised and liable to become subject to inter-party competition. Thirdly, historical understandings of ‘participation’ in Tanzania tend to emphasise obligation and material contributions rather than popular influence over initiatives, however this is increasingly being contested in today’s multiparty context. The apparent shortcomings of community policing are not necessarily inconsistent with police objectives for the reform, which often prioritise cost-effective crime prevention rather than the reorientation and ‘democratisation’ of policing envisaged by advocates of community policing.


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