The Chief of the Standing Police Capacity (SPC) in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Ms. Maria Appelblom, said this week that Sierra Leone has made impressive gains in community policing and called for a broader police–public partnership.
Ms. Appelblom, from Sweden, concluded a 10-day visit to Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone to capture lessons learned during the transition from conflict. She noted that lessons from previous UN missions, such as in Sierra Leone, could be applied to better meet the challenges in other countries with exiting UN Missions, such as Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. Ms. Appelblom also highlighted the added value of the SPC support to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sierra Leone, with a view to further strengthening cooperation.
Referring to Sierra Leone’s successful transition from conflict, Ms. Appelblom said, “Successful developments have been made and I would like to see the lessons that can be captured from the transition in Sierra Leone being used for the benefit of other missions.”
Since 2014, through its Access to Justice and Support to Security Reform Project, UNDP Sierra Leone has received support from DPKO for the deployment of Police Reform Advisors to strengthen the capacity of security sector agencies.
During a site visit to the new Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB) office premises currently being refurbished with UNDP support, Ms. Appelblom noted that UNDP’s support to the wider security sector is crucial, adding that good governance, security and rule of law are fundamental for lasting peace and sustainable development.
The UN police chief also noted, “A closer partnership between the public and their police service would not only create trust between the police and the population but is a sure path to a safe environment, and would assist with maintaining public order and countering criminality.”
During her mission in Sierra Leone, Ms. Appelblom also met the UN Resident Coordinator a.i, Mr. Gabriel Rugalema, UNDP Country Director, Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee and key members of his team, representatives from UNICEF and UN Women, and representatives from civil society groups. She also met with key security sector partners including the Director of Office National Security (ONS), the Inspector General of Police and his top management and the Chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB) among others.
Ms. Appelblom also held meetings with the Human Right Commission, Sierra Leone Correctional Service, Local Policing Partnership Boards (LPPB), Paramount Chiefs, women leaders, youth leaders and a cross section of female police officers.
The Sierra Leone Police, with support from UNDP, is currently running a community policing project covering three chiefdoms in Kambia District: Gbinle Dixon, Samu and Magbema, the three chiefdoms bordering Guinea.
Paramount Chief Kokorioko Kondogbala II of Gbinlle Dixon Chiefdom noted, “Prior to the introducing of community policing in the chiefdom, armed robbery, cultism, cross-border crime, gangsterism and late-night shootings were rampant. Now, however, this has greatly declined due to the coordination between the community and the police.”
The visit of the UN police chief coincided with that of the United Nations Peacekeeping Assessment Advisory Team. The team was in Sierra Leone to conduct an assessment of the Sierra Leone Police and Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces to evaluate their readiness to fulfil the country’s commitment to deploy troops as part of UN-backed peacekeeping missions.