Nine years upon the introduction of community policing in Albania there seems to be no substantial progress in practice.

By Marija Ignjatijević (BCSP) / Photo: Flagert

The concept of community policing represents a departure from the traditional model of the centralized and bureaucratized police, focused mainly on the law enforcement and the reduction of crime. However, the comparative practice in policing has indicated that the resolving of security problems at the level of local communities should not be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the police and judiciary. Therefore, the community policing (CP) model generates community involvement and building mutual trust between the police and local institutions, which should lead to the creation of a safer environment for citizens.

There is no a unique formula for the implementation of CP, applicable worldwide. Each country, or even a region within a country, has its own institutional, geographical and cultural specificities which must be taken into consideration since they impact the security problems inherent in a certain community.

Albania in 2007 has normatively adopted the community policing model, which was embedded in the Law on State Police and the Strategy of State Police 2007-2013. Albania has chosen to embrace this philosophy which presumes the opening of police structures to the public and creating partnerships with local government institutions and other actors and stakeholders at the local level. However, nine years upon the introduction of this concept there seems to be no substantial progress in practice.

The report “Community Policing in Albania 2007-2015” written by Ola Cami, represents a detailed research and elaboration on the evolution of the CP model in Albania, referring both to the legal framework and its implementation in practice. Moreover, this paper follows the influence and the achievements of the adoption of this model so far, using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, but also detects certain impediments and problems. Finally, the author gives recommendations necessary for the improvement of cooperation between the police structures and local government institutions. Throughout the paper, the author highlights particular challenges of the implementation of the CP model within the institutional and cultural context of Albania.

At the beginning, the author gives an overview of the legal framework on which the CP model is based. Namely, law and strategy from 2007 imply establishing partnerships between Albanian State Police (ASP) and local government institutions (LGIs). It presumes certain organizational transformations within ASP, as well as setting “the creation of community partnership” as a legal obligation. One of the main instruments for the development of the collaboration set down through the law is the adoption of yearly regional policing strategies (YRPS). These strategies, produced annually by local police directorates in consultation with LGIs, should highlight problems and needs of the local communities. Moreover, Cami analyses the newly adopted Law on State Police and Strategy of the State Police from 2014, which seem to confirm the necessity of further developing the CP model. Innovation brought with the law is the Citizens Consultative Board, which should monitor the adoption and the implementation of YRPS.

The following section discusses the regularity of the adoption of YRPS and the effectiveness of their implementation in practice so far. The main findings of the research show that though the YRPS were produced regularly in all 12 regions and the content has been in compliance with the law, certain irregularities can be noticed. Firstly, some strategies are missing the signature of the Regional and General Police Director, who are supposed to be legally responsible for the development of the YRPS. Secondly, only one-half of the strategies is in compliance with the legal deadline for the adoption. Most importantly, it can be concluded that the ASP has failed to include LGIs in the process since none of the strategies have been approved by LGIs. Moreover, some of the strategies did not contain crime statistics and recommendations on decreasing crime rates. Finally, community needs were not properly defined in all of the YRPS, since they only reflect the perception of police officers.

Regarding the implementation and its effectiveness, Cami infers that none of the strategies are actually representative of the local communities or have the predicted impact on crime rate and public trust in the police. Strategies are mostly similar in form and content, especially within the same region throughout the years. Therefore, YPRS seem to be the result of the only formal fulfillment of legal obligations, without the envisaged influence and consequences. However, without regard to the lack of success to include LGIs in this process, information gathered through interviews with various officials showed that ASP and LGIs have frequently interacted and cooperated, but mostly formally. Namely, schools and educational institutions were the ones most involved.

Cami argues that factors that impede the cooperation come from both ASP and LGIs. Centralized police structures and poor infrastructure hinder good communication and building of mutual trust, and LGIs are still dependent on central government institutions. Furthermore, the police are susceptible to political changes and influence. Finally, the essential problem is the lack of expertise and appropriate training on community policing, on the operational as well as the leadership level.

In conclusion, the community policing philosophy has been established in Albania only normatively, through legal and strategic documents. In practice, the partnership between the Albanian State Police and local government institutions is non-existent, especially when it comes to the adoption of regional strategies. Moreover, strategies fail to reflect the concerns and needs of specific communities, with consideration of cultural, geographical and institutional context. Therefore, the author of this study recommends stronger implementation of the existing law, especially National Police Strategy 2015-2021, which foresees radical transformations within police structures.

Also, Cami recommends a proactive approach to the State Police so as to strengthen the institutionalization of the relationship. Periodic consultations with local institutions should be held in order to enhance the practice of communication. Finally, State Police should present a report on the implementation of YRPS to local councils and a draft strategy for the next year.

TAGS: AlbaniaBook ReviewCommunity PolicingExternal OversightPolice Reform