The concept of community policing was adopted by the Malawi government as a vehicle to facilitate police and the public engagement in fighting crimes. Considering that community policing has existed for over a decade in Malawi, this study was carried out to holistically uncover challenges associated with public involvement in community policing activities with the purpose to provide empirically backed strategies for the efficient implementation of the concept.
The study employed a case study approach. Purposive sampling was used on one hand to select the research site – Central Regions of Malawi and to select the police officers working as Community Policing Coordinators and members of the communities working in Community Police Forums. Quota sampling was used to select police officers and members of the community from each district. Finally, convenient sampling was used to select police officers and members within the quotas of each district. Focus group discussions were conducted with 16 Community Police Forums; interviews were conducted with 16 Community Policing Coordinators; a questionnaire was used to collect data from 144 community members and 200 police officers.
Results show that the community members are not satisfied with police officers in the way they implement the community policing because the police do not offer the public enough protection from criminals and that the police mostly treat the community badly. The community members were involved in the implementation of the community policing mainly because of worsening crimes in the community, personal fear of the crimes, need to be recognised by the police and the desire to benefit from the rewards from Non-Governmental Organisations in form of food. The factors that challenged the implementation of community policing include lack of knowledge on community policing on the part of police officers; lack of recognition of community policing; corrupt practices; lack of confidentiality; poor working relationship; and lack of resources.
The concept of community policing continues to receive unprecedented attention in police reforms. Much as there is evidence of growing literature on this concept, little is known in Malawi where this study was conducted. In light of this, the study provides valuable literature which might be necessary for global academics and particularly in community policing in Malawi with practical implications on re-designing and continued implementation of community policing in Malawi and perhaps other developing countries.