Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ICT4COP Report Summary

Project ID: 653909
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.7.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ICT4COP (Community-Based Policing and Post-Conflict Police Reform)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

ICT4COP aims to explore social, cultural, legal, technical and ethical dimensions of post-conflict police reform, especially police-community relations and community-oriented policing (COP).

With a particular focus on gender and youth issues, and education and training systems feeding into police reform, the overall aim for ICT4COP is to bring forward the scholarly and policy debates on emerging COP approaches and innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs) that might contribute to increased trust and sustainable human security for all in challenging, post-conflict contexts.

The project systematically examines 11 cases: Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia; Somalia (and Somaliland), Kenya and South Sudan in Africa; Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in South East Europe; and Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua in Central America.
In all these regions, the international community spends billions of dollars annually supporting police reform. The challenges of providing this assistance, however, are formidable. Conventional approaches of top-down institutional reform are neither effective nor sustainable. Community-based policing (COP) holds some promise; however, there is a lack of context-based, in-depth understandings of police-community relations in police reform assistance.

On this background, ICT4COP has agreed to a set of overall research questions covering, inter alia, how different actors define COP, what constitutes insecurity for people and the degree to which women, men, children, youth and minorities perceive this differently, and which formal and informal conflict resolution mechanisms exist and how do they work.

Moreover, and this is a critical underpinning of our project, our ambition is “co-creation of knowledge”. By explorative ethnographic studies, our researchers acquire knowledge about the issues at stake, but so do our informants, from institutional representatives to local community members.
Human security takes center stage with ICT4COP. It is our overall ambition to contribute to the advancement of human security in one way or another. This is why we study police reform and community-oriented policing in post-conflict societies.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The first year of ICT4COP has been highly productive, academically and operationally. Initial fieldwork has been conducted in all four regions, resulting in some valuable, although preliminary, findings. These we have started to engage the wider academic and institutional communities with. Our operational infrastructure is up and running, including a functioning Project Steering Committee, an online collaboration room for researchers, and an increasingly stronger Police Experts Network that contributes manifestly to our research efforts.

Our project covers overall as well as case and crosscutting themes specific research objectives. With this array, our work packages on Project Methodology and Community-Oriented Policing in Comparison, Gender, and Youth have all provided research questions for their own use as well as for the use among regional work packages.
To assist and further the project’s comparative elements, we have developed a comprehensive database that allows for in-depth comparison across overall research questions and crosscutting themes.

The theoretical foundation of our work was first discussed at the project’s kick-off seminar at Oscarsborg in Norway in late August 2015 in a presentation of power dynamics. This foundation has since been elaborated in an academic article (forthcoming with the European Journal of Policing Studies) and popularized in a blog article for the project’s online magazine.

Our project is rooted in police practice. We have established a comprehensive Police Experts Network, comprising police practitioners from national and international services. On a volunteer basis, these individuals, numbering over 50 at the time of writing, serve as project advisors and facilitators. The Norwegian Police University College coordinates the network.

Our emphasis on technological development has resulted in a context assessment and technological scoping report, put into use by regional research groups in close collaboration with our technology development work package leader.

With four regions under scrutiny, and vast contextual differences between the cases within these, our emphasis has been on literature reviews, institutional mapping and on contextual assessments. Given the security situation and political volatility in all four regions, some obstacles to field research have been encountered, including inability to undertake fieldwork in some countries. However, such obstacles were always part of what could be expected and no material change to the project as such has emerged. As we see it now, we will be able to undertake the planned work, albeit at a later stage in some areas.

SOUTH EAST EUROPE: Our researchers have conducted fieldwork in Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Concentrating on understanding the institutional and policy approaches of policing in these countries, respondents have been from academia, police authorities and experts, NGOs and local government. The South East Europe work package has in addition conducted a comprehensive literature review on community-oriented policing that will benefit the whole project.

AFRICA: In the first year we have conducted initial fieldwork in Somaliland and Kenya, the results of which are being disseminated to relevant audiences in multiple ways. For the policy community, we have produced a contextual assessment on all our Africa cases and we have developed a policy brief on the application of technology in community-oriented policing in Hargeisa, Somaliand’s capital.

For the academic community, our Africa work package leader Prof. Dr. Alice Hills has written two academic articles that are already submitted. One is accepted for publication and the other (at the time of writing) under review. Additionally Prof. Hills has given a paper at the annual convention of the International Studies Association in Atlanta, Georgia.

CENTRAL AMERICA: Fieldwork has started in Guatemala and Nicaragua, initially to build relations, map the institutional settings of policing, and understand the history of policing in these countries. Our Central America team has identified at least two different models of community-oriented policing, and we also have some preliminary indications that policing is directed at national security rather than improving state-community relations. Peer reviewed articles on Guatemala and Nicaragua are being planned for 2017.

ASIA: Initial fieldwork has been carried out, including visits to regions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our researchers in these countries have, furthermore, conducted interviews as well as institutional reviews.

Meant for the policy community, our Asia team has developed a contextual assessment as well as a policy brief on the application of technology in community-oriented policing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are now in the process of analyzing findings and writing academic articles.

With 30 something researchers representing 15 institutions and four continents, it has been imperative for the project’s leadership to ensure that management is smooth and collaboration easy.

PROJECT STEERING COMMITTEE: For efficient management, the Steering Committee, which consists of the Project Leader and the other WP leaders, as well as the Project Coordination Team at the NMBU, has met quarterly to discuss progress and made ongoing decisions via email. The Coordination Team, which consists of the Project Leader and two administrators at the NMBU, has met weekly to plan for and exercise the Steering Committee’s decisions.

SHAREPOINT COLLABORATION ROOM: For collaboration among researchers and within each work package, the ICT4COP has established an online SharePoint collaboration room. Each work package has its own designated area, complete with folders, timeline, and contact details. The work packages that have progressed most are also those that have taken this system most fully into use. SharePoint functions, on the most basic level, as a server anyone with professional computer experience intuitively understands – and researchers work on analyses and papers within this system. Our SharePoint room is secure and only open to our researchers, meaning that we can collaborate extensively within this system, including writing academic articles and reports and have discussions in discussion rooms.

SAFE DATA STORAGE: Expensive jewelry, diamonds, for instance, are kept in secure bank boxes. Less expensive jewelry are stored at home. We take the same approach to securing sensitive personal data – they are our “expensive jewelry” and must be handled as such. To this end, interview transcripts, raw and metadata about our respondents and such like are being stored on a properly state-of-the-art secure data storage system, the University of Oslo’s TSD system, to which the NMBU has purchased access. Following fieldwork, our researchers upload sensitive data to this system, which in turn ensures that our respondents remain unidentified by anyone external. Each work package has its own exclusive area in the system. Not even project researchers can access data outside of their own work package.

ETHICS: The secure storing of data is not merely a legal obligation; it is an ethical imperative. Our project has an elaborate ethics approach, complete with ethical guidelines and methodological principles, an internal ethics committee, and an external independent ethics monitoring board consisting of two academic experts.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

At this early stage, when we have only conducted a few field research operations, progress beyond state-of-the-art has not been expected. However, our initial findings suggest potential impact on the scholarly debate as well as on policy development. Meanwhile, our project infrastructure has already proved valuable to the academic community as such, and many other research projects with the ICT4COP Coordinator, NMBU, have already adopted our approach to management.

ACADEMIC PROGRESS AND IMPACT: As highlighted in our contextual assessments, policy briefs, papers, and work package reports, community-oriented policing and police reform are not straightforward. Purposes and objectives vary, as do implementation of policies. With our preliminary findings, we have identified, for instance, many caveats, but also opportunities, within the application of technology in community policing. With human security as the core concept of our study, such findings are relevant for policy makers and development aid donors as they provide information about how to implement security sector reform programs. Over the course of the project period, we expect much more potential societal, political and academic impact of our study.

OPERATIONAL PROGRESS AND IMPACT: Our project management infrastructure serves its purpose but it is worth highlighting one aspect which has proved beneficial within, but also beyond, our project. SharePoint is not state-of-the-art but its’ implementation in a large-scale scholarly project is an innovation relevant for many. As our funding is from the public via the EU, we have decided that we want to be as open and forthcoming as possible when it comes to sharing our operational system. We have therefore helped launch versions of our SharePoint solution to other academic projects within the NMBU but also beyond.

A direct upshot on this for our project is that we have received free-of-charge assistance from NMBU colleagues in developing our Microsoft Access database for our comparative studies. We introduced SharePoint to another project, and they provided a set-up for Access for us. Win-win, in our view!

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