After 31 years of Namibia’s independence, Namibian Police Force (NamPol) has been keeping pace with contemporary society. What has become more relevant recently is NamPol’s receptiveness to research-based law enforcement practice.
The institution’s ranks and files are evidently receptive to research results and appreciate their importance in the organisation. Moreover, there is still some indication that evidence-based policing (research-based) within the police fraternity is slowly finding its relevancy in the organisation to a more considerable extent.
Colin and Helen (2020) defined Evidence-based policing as an approach policymakers use in the police organisation to inform operations and administrations, based on contemporary issues through the research practice.
Evidence-based policing recognises the experiences and intuitions of NamPol members, and cement the need for research practices to inform policing. Such undertakings, in recent times, have been a nest of potential for NamPol practitioners.
Even though the research practices were limited to a specific area, it is indisputable that current research covers many of the pressing challenges that NamPol, as an organization, is currently facing.
The critical evidence that research-based policing covers arrays of fields is the introduction of Electronic Policing (E-Policing), National Biometric Identification System (N-ABIS), Gender-Based Violence Administration System (GBVAS), Road Safety Information Management System (RSIMS) and the practice of hotspots policing.
The shift to evidenced-policing in NamPol may further be cemented with the continued collaboration with the local institutions such as a Memorandum of Understanding between Namibian University of Science and Technology and University of Namibia on Criminal Justice Program and Police Science Programme, respectively.
Furthermore, there is a collaboration with the University of Rwanda, through the Musanze Police College, where officers are trained each year, especially those who occupy the strategic positions, to help enhance their leadership skills and create the body of knowledge for the betterment of NamPol.
These NamPol strategic formulators have been exposed extensively to research practices, an itinerary at which evidence-based policing is nested.
In addition to the above, some NamPol leaders pursued and graduated with Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership at the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation Centre of Excellence, in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership is a tailor-made programme that aims to develop strategic planning knowledge among senior police officers within SARPCCO.
This platform has dramatically enhanced the critical and effective decision-making of those occupying leadership positions in NamPol and improved their ability as leaders to think strategically.
Notably, NamPol has used this collaborative effort with researchers and institutions to create, adjust or abandon specific policing programs. In the same vein, embracing and fostering transformation in a fast-evolving Namibian society with heightened sophistication in illicit activities.
Compared to several years ago, there is conspicuous proof to suggest that there has been an exponential increase in the number of NamPol members enrolling in tertiary institutions. This has improved the capacities of the institution.
In addition, these officers have explored various research disciplines related to police use of force, community policing, welfare officer safety and crimes, service delivery, conflict and security, training, and member wellness.
With the above, it is pertinent to note that the understanding has now shifted from acquiring qualifications for mere recognition but to significantly contributing to the policy-making of NamPol and improving general service delivery.
The understanding of evidence-based policing could also be cited as one of the reasons that informed the anticipated introduction of the NamPol Research Agenda (Policy) that will regulate research practices to add value to research findings to the organisation.
Furthermore, the competency framework to be introduced by next year also dictate how NamPol leaders have taken a strong stance in professionalising the policing institution and broadening understanding on myriads of issues affecting the organisation. What’s more, how police researchers may ameliorate the issues that affect successful policing dealings has become a tripod upon which NamPol stands.
Due to the comprehensive understanding of research in NamPol, evidence-based policing is now the hallmark of targeting, testing, and tracking strategies to help internal and external decision-makers on deciding and plan on intricate policing and security issues. Finally, the realisation of the importance of evidence-based policing by NamPol’ leadership is enough to sublimate efforts to the founding of NamPol Police Academy. This could further sustain evidence-based policing practices.
* Kennedy Mabuku holds a Master Degree in Policing, among other qualifications. He wrote in his personal capacity.