Dr Oliver Owen's five-year fieldwork study within the Nigerian Police Force is providing unique research evidence for reforms aimed at improving police performance, effectiveness and accountability.
- The Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police Force has based a review on Dr Owen's report into policing and asked national heads of departments to make written responses on its policy recommendations.
- Some reforms advocated by Dr Owen, such as more training in dispute resolution and the employment of retired officers in training recruits, are being implemented and Dr Owen has been invited to participate in the conversation over future implementation of reforms.
- Nigeria's CLEEN Foundation, a civil society organisation working on justice sector reform is working with Dr Owen to develop recommendations for protecting the police force from political interference in dialogue with the Police Service Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.
- The DFID-funded policing assistance project Justice for All has facilitated dialogue between Dr Owen and a Nigeria Police headquarters strategy team and has incorporated some of the outputs into its training programmes for serving officers.
The methodological approach you [Dr Oliver Owen] adopted and effort you put in place has completely validated your findings, which are also borne out by realities on the ground...The Inspector General of Police has already started implementing your research findings particularly on Alternative Resolution of disputes. (CP Austin I. Iwar, Principal Staff Officer to the Inspector General of Police, Nigeria Police Force.)
About the research
When, three years ago, Nigeria's Inspector-General of Police described his force as a 'subject of ridicule' then the need for reform was clear for all to see. Since then, an ESRC-funded Impact Acceleration award has enabled Dr Oliver Owen to provide Nigeria's Inspector General of Police as well as a range of governmental and non-governmental bodies, development partners and the Nigerian public with clear evidence-based recommendations to address the many challenges the police force faces.
"Public perceptions of the Nigerian police are largely negative and coloured by fears of police corruption and inertia," Dr Owen points out. "However, research on the actual conditions and factors affecting the Nigerian Police Force, its personnel and their performance is scant, and missing the voices of Nigeria's 377,000 police officers. My research approach offers the chance to put those bottom-up perspectives back into the picture."
By working closely with more than 130 police officers based in north-central Nigeria, Dr Owen explored the world of policing from the officers' points of view, gaining unique insight into the problems they face and the potential for policing reforms.
After several years research in Nigeria, Dr Owen believes he has gained enough trust from police officers and officials to take part in a serious conversation over reform. "Often the problems and answers are well-known by many inside the system, but they are not in a position to bring them up. By building trust, providing new evidence and supporting frank and open discussion, this on-going research project is helping to support the slow process of policy reform and culture change."