A cornerstone of a democratic society is that citizens have a right to say how they would like to be policed. Community policing involves building trust within communities through direct interaction and dialogue.
It is a style of policing, an ethos, that is based on a partnership between the police and the community, and a recognition that prevention and combating of crime is not a matter for the police alone — that crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility.
There is no defined template for successfully integrating the community into police work — in different countries it takes different forms. A common structure for implementing community policing takes the form of Citizens’ Advisory Groups. These groups usually include elected representatives, members of the local business community, employees of public bodies (for example teachers, hospital workers, etc) or religious leaders. These groups can help identify hot spots where crime or anti-social behaviour takes place and assist in drawing up action plans to solve problems.
More than anything, community policing is based on building trust with the local community. This involves transparency and openness in relation to police activities. People expect and deserve information about policing styles, operations and incidents, as well as respect for and protection of human rights. Trust requires treating members of the public as customers that have needs to be met, accompanied by a willingness to listen to and act upon public opinion regarding policing priorities.
Community policing is a new concept in Ukraine, and EUAM is assisting the National Police of Ukraine to make community policing a cornerstone of police work. Together with the National Police and international partners, EUAM has also established a working group on community policing. Ultimately, the objective is to change the culture of policing from being instruments of the state to servants of the people.