Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Securing communities: the what and the how of community policing

Research report

Written by Lisa Denney

Research report

Community policing has gained popularity amongst donors,governments, police departments and communities as a mechanism for achieving a diverse range of goals – from crime reduction to improved state-society relations. Yet while community policing initiatives are widespread across the globe, there is little consensus on its definition, objectives or models. Given the ambiguity surrounding its precise meaning, this paper maps the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of community policing, setting out what it means and hopes to achieve,and how it manifests and is shaped by factors such as histories of state-society relations.

Development actors have become particularly interested in community policing in recent times with the recognition that security and justice are fundamental to development processes, and that security must be tailored to the needs and interests of local communities. However, while community policing provides opportunities that can strengthen accountable safety, security and justice, it is not a panacea; those supporting or implementing such practices need to be aware of the associated risks. Furthermore, given the current donor interest in community policing, there is a need for greater analytical clarity about the features above .

Lisa Denney and Sarah Jenkins