Public Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Policing and the Social Costs of Crime in Nairobi Policing Region, Kenya
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Over the last few years, there has been a concern among the public in Kenya about increasing rates of crime and the rising social costs of crime. This study assessed public perceptions of the effectiveness of policing and the social costs of crime in Nairobi policing region. The research adopted a cross sectional study design. It targeted both middle and low income residential areas of Nairobi policing region in jurisdictions of two police divisions, namely; Buruburu and Kajiado. In Buruburu Division, the middle class was represented by Buruburu Estate while the lower class was represented by Dandora Estate. In Kajiado Police Division, the middle class was represented by Kerarapon Estate while the lower class was represented by Gichagi slum. Stratified random sampling design was used to select a sample that comprised 384 informants. The household was the main unit of analysis because the brunt of the social costs of crime is first felt at family level. The study also included police officers, victims who were living in pain and community policing committee members. Questionnaire, Pain Assessment Scale and Focused Group Discussion guides were the main tools of data collection. The study tested four hypotheses using Chi-Square as the test statistic. Out of the four hypotheses tested, two showed significant difference in perceptions of police effectiveness and that of the social costs of crime between the Kajiado and Buruburu police divisions; The second hypothesis results showed a significant difference in public perceptions of what constitutes effectiveness of policing in Kajiado police division relative to Buruburu police division (χ2 = 15.004, p=0.001). The third hypothesis which sought to test for differences in public perceptions of the social costs of crime between Kajiado and Buruburu police divisions also showed significant results (χ2 = 6.69, p=0.01). There were two major components of effective policing in the Kenyan context but which were lacking in Nairobi policing region; professionalism and adequacy of coverage. In addition, as a result of criminal victimization, there were increased perceptions of the social costs of crime that contributed to suffering and pain at both individual, family and community levels. The study concluded that ineffectiveness of policing was also costly to the police service itself. According to the study there were perceptions that increase of police effectiveness would automatically reduce that of the social costs of crime. The study made major recommendations to improve police effectiveness that include the establishment of a national team whose job is to frequently gather public views, refine them and turn good ones into government policy. In consultation with the National Police Service Commission (NPSC), this national team may also be tasked with frequent benchmarking especially from developed countries on best policing practices and modern state of the art equipment to improve on police effectiveness.On a professional front, and to restore Police integrity; credibility, public trust and confidence, there is need to establish human rights policies in the National Police Service. This may include frequent inter-institutional fora between National Police service, National Police Service Commission, Independent Policing Oversight Authority, and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights body to enforce on human rights especially with regard to the right to life. This would avert police excesses such as extra judicial executions.