Alliance in Focus: Ensuring Safety and Preventing Crime at the local level in Kenya
06/06/2018 – Supporting communities in Kenya to be better equipped to ensure safety and prevent crime and violence at the local level is central to the work of Usalama Reforms Forum, a Fight for Peace Alliance member.
Among the organisation’s most established programmes are the Community Safety Forums, which strengthen the capacity of local actors to get communities involved in safety and security interventions. Operating across twelve communities, the Forums give groups most at risk of crime and violence a platform through which their voices are heard and their priorities articulated.
The formalisation of this local led initiative was a response to a clear need for crime and violence prevention, access to justice, enhanced trust between the community and law enforcement and improved community relations.
“Initially, safety audits were carried out with members of twelve communities to create a profile and discover what the priorities for these communities were. One of the key things that we identified was a gap in trust between members of the community and police and other key stakeholders. The Community Safety Forums are the response to this”, explains Project Coordinator, Jacob Atiang.
Meeting every three months, the Forums gather together diverse stakeholders from government, law enforcement, public health bodies and business, as well as leaders from within the community. From the meetings, strategies aimed at resolving safety and security issues at the community level are developed.
“It is crucially important that safety initiatives reflect community perspectives and rely on local expertise. The role of community leaders and women’s leaders is central to this. Communities must have ownership and take charge of their own safety and security challenges”, said Caleb Wanga, Usalama Reforms Forum Director.
The Community Safety Forums have garnered substantial results which have been measured by Usalama Reforms Forum. In particular, surveys have shown community trust in law enforcement rise from 14% to above 40% in some areas, with an increase in the number of crimes reported to the police also evident.
“The Forums have also allowed closer community monitoring of the criminal justice process by examining how much action is taken and how cases are managed. In this way, local communities are ensuring that proper judgement is done and justice is served”, highlights Caleb.