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A report on “Best Practices for Building Investigative Capacity in Developing or Post-Conflict Countries” by the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL) provides an overview based on the field experience of INPROL’s Police Council of Experts, members, and available literature.
Read some of the excerpts below:
Conduct a Comprehensive Assessment Beforehand
Assistance should begin with an in-depth assessment of the specific context of the country and the particular police service in question. [It] should gather all available information to develop an appreciation of the nature of the criminal justice system as a whole. It should look at the types of crimes which are most common or problematic, current police responses, and where citizens turn for assistance.
It may be necessary to do an in-depth assessment on criminal investigation methods. The assessment should also look at the legal framework for policing and criminal investigation. This would include the penal code, criminal procedure code, police act and any other piece of legislation that grants the police powers with regard to criminal investigation (e.g. anti-trafficking legislation). An analysis should be undertaken to understand where blockages arise in investigations.
An analysis of the court system, evidentiary burdens and admissibility criteria would also be important to look at.Social structure and reliance upon traditional/customary justice systems will also affect the approach to criminal investigation.
[Additionally] it may be appropriate to conduct a political-economy analysis, sometimes known as a ‘drivers of change’ study to assess whether there is the political space for reforms of criminal investigation at the particular point in time and whether there is stakeholder ‘buy in.’
Ensure Adequate Police Resources and Financial Sustainability
While international assistance tends to focus on providing support to operational policing, critical issues of budgeting and resourcing often fail to receive adequate attention. Developing/post-conflict country police services are populated by officers receiving irregular or insufficient pay, frequently lacking even basic materials, such as pens, paper, ledgers etc., with poor communications equipment, access to, at best a few poorly-maintained vehicles, and scant resources to purchase fuel.
Improve Donor Training Programs
The usual donor reaction to low criminal investigative capacity is to offer assistance in the form of training, sometimes in the form of one-off training. There tends to be an assumption that a lack of knowledge is the root cause of lack of capacity, without seeking to study and understand the various barriers to progress that may exist within the criminal justice system and country as a whole. It is important to deeply consider what the ‘real’ problem is…so that assistance targets the actual problem and not a manifestation of it.
Much training today consists of foreign trainers delivering seminars based upon prevailing practices in donor nations, trainers’ personal experiences in their home countries, or accumulated knowledge of companies sub-contracted to provide this service. Few courses deliver significant or sustained performance improvement. Even fewer attempt to measure or evaluate their effect. A comprehensive training needs assessment (which is different, although related, to the types of assessment outlined above) should be invested in at the outset.
Different parts of the criminal justice system fall under the purview of different organizations, divisions, agencies and NGOs, with often-limited synchronicity. Any training of police must be accompanied by training for judges, lawyers for the prosecution service and defense council, court staff, magistrates, clerks, and so forth. Training and curricula design should preferably integrate criminal justice practitioners, ensuring that all actors understand the process and approach to investigations, and to assist with problem and solution spotting, develop relationships and ease coordination.
Be Aware of How Literacy Issues Can Affect Police Assistance
Undiagnosed or untreated problems may undermine officers’ capacity to absorb training. For example, criminal investigations training will have little impact if it is delivered to a cadre of police who are illiterate or possess very low literacy.
Ensure Assistance has Adequate Monitoring and Evaluation
Training in order to gain an understanding of what types of training, and what conditions for training, bring about lasting change, namely use of the skills imparted during the teaching of the course. The normal approach is to consider an output (i.e. that 50 people were trained), which is actually an activity, as if it were an outcome, which instead refers to the measurable positive change that resulted from assistance. Another common approach is to have participants fill out feedback sheets at the end of each course. This cannot be considered rigorous monitoring and evaluation.
Monitoring and evaluation needs to be thought about at the project design phase (i.e. when the decision is made by the donor about what assistance to fund). It needs to be built into the project budget and also baseline data needs to be collected in advance of the assistance being provided so that the donor can measure what changed as a result of the project.
To read more about best practices and conducting a criminal investigation, click here.