The efficacy of citizens to participate in neighborhood-watch activities and report signs of trouble is important for safeguarding communities against crime. Community policing is a key policing strategy for utilizing the capability of residents to solve local crime-related problems. However, variability in social cohesion among communities profoundly affects the contribution of individuals towards policing. After 7 years of a community policing intervention in suburban Nairobi, Kenya, this study assesses the program as a state-initiated and community-sustained security venture. We compare micro-scaled concentrations of different property and violent crimes to identify geographic variations over time using kernel density estimates and spatio-temporal scan statistics. Multi-level regression models assess the direct and conditioned perceptions of individuals and their neighbors, and how these perceptions influenced crime variation during the pre- and post-intervention periods of community policing. Both the density estimates and the scan statistics pinpoint a disproportionate crime reduction across neighborhoods. The research findings also depict an interaction between the communal willingness to participate in neighborhood-watch activities and the relative crime decline. In particular, those communities that have good relations with the police are more inclined to involve themselves in community policing. The findings of this study are discussed in terms of their implications for policy.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Other potential variables not highly significant for the estimation were excluded to increase the model statistical power. A bivariate correlation analysis and the assessment of variance inflation factors (VIF) showed no evidence of multicollinearity among the remaining independent variables.
Specific details about the census are available at http://statistics.knbs.or.ke/nada/index.php/catalog/55/related_materials.
Amnesty International (2013). Kenya: Police reform in Kenya: “A drop in the ocean”. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR32/001/2013/en. Accessed 10 February 2015.
Baker, B. (2010). Nonstate policing: expanding the scope for tackling Africa’s urban violence. African Security Briefing, 2010, 7.
Braga, A. A., Winship, C., Tyler, T. R., Fagan, J., & Meares, T. L. (2014). The salience of social contextual factors in appraisals of police interactions with citizens: a randomized factorial experiment. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 30(4), 599–627.
Brogden, M., & Nijhar, P. (2013). Community Policing. London and New York: Routledge.
Brunson, R. K. (2007). “Police don’t like black people”: African‐American young men’s accumulated police experiences. Criminology & Public Policy, 6(1), 71–101.
Bull, M. (2014). Community policing and the limits of the bureaucratic state. Asian Journal of Criminology 1–15.
Carr, P. J. (2005). Clean streets: Controlling crime, maintaining order, and building community activism. NYU Press.
Christensen, R. H. B. (2015). Ordinal regression models for ordinal data. R package version 2015.1-21.
Connell, N. M., Miggans, K., & McGloin, J. M. (2008). Can a community policing initiative reduce serious crime? a local evaluation. Police Quarterly, 11(2), 127–150.
Cordner, G. (2014). Community policing. The Oxford Handbook of Police and Policing, 148.
Davies, T. M., Hazelton, M. L., Marshall, J. C., & Davies, M. T. M. (2014). Package ‘sparr’. risk 22, 1.
Duncan, T. E., Duncan, S. C., Okut, H., Strycker, L. A., & Hix-Small, H. (2003). A multilevel contextual model of neighborhood collective efficacy. American Journal of Community Psychology, 32(3–4), 245–252.
Feigl, H., Langfeld, H., Green, C. D., Wikstrom, P. O., Oberwittler, D., &, Treiber, K et al. (2015). Community criminology: Fundamentals of spatial and temporal scaling, ecological indicators, and selectivity, Bias, 25.
Finnegan, L., Hickson, C., & Rai, S. (2008). Implementing community-based policing in Kenya. London: Saferworld.
Gill, C., Weisburd, D., Telep, C. W., Vitter, Z., & Bennett, T. (2014). Community-oriented policing to reduce crime, disorder and fear and increase satisfaction and legitimacy among citizens: a systematic review. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10(4), 399–428.
Gituai, C. T. (2010). Policing with the community: Kenya community-based policing. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Gradín, C. (2013). Race, poverty and deprivation in South Africa. Journal of African Economies, 22(2), 187–238.
Groff, E. R., & Lockwood, B. (2014). Criminogenic facilities and crime across street segments in Philadelphia uncovering evidence about the spatial extent of facility influence. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 51(3), 277–314.
Helbich, M., & Leitner, M. (2012). Evaluation of spatial cluster detection algorithms for crime locations. Challenges at the interface of data analysis, computer science, and optimization (pp. 193–201). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.
Holmes, M. D., Painter, M. A., & Smith, B. W. (2015). Citizens’ perceptions of police in rural US communities: a multilevel analysis of contextual, organisational and individual predictors. Policing and Society (ahead-of-print), 1–21.
Jones, S. G., & Kulldorff, M. (2012). Influence of spatial resolution on space-time disease cluster detection. PLoS One, 7(10), e48036.
K’Akumu, O. A., & Olima, W. H. (2007). The dynamics and implications of residential segregation in Nairobi. Habitat International, 31(1), 87–99.
Kennedy, L. W., Caplan, J. M., & Piza, E. (2011). Risk clusters, hotspots, and spatial intelligence: risk terrain modeling as an algorithm for police resource allocation strategies. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 27(3), 339–362.
Kenya Police (2010). Annual crime report for the year 2010. http://www.kenyapolice.go.ke/resources. Accessed 2 January 2015.
Koper, C. S., Hoffmaster, D. A., Luna, A., McFadden, S., & Woods, D. J. (2010). Developing a St. Louis model for reducing gun violence. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum Report.
Law, J., & Chan, P. W. (2012). Bayesian spatial random effect modelling for analysing burglary risks controlling for offender, socioeconomic, and unknown risk factors. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, 5(1), 73–96.
LeBas, A. (2013). Violence and urban order in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria. Studies in Comparative International Development, 48(3), 240–262.
Leitner, M., & Helbich, M. (2011). The impact of hurricanes on crime: a spatio-temporal analysis in the city of Houston, Texas. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 38(2), 213–221.
Leverentz, A. (2014). New parochialism and community dynamics. Criminology & Public Policy, 13(2), 217–224.
Lidén, T. (2012). Community policing in Kikuyu: assessing the need for organizational change within a police department from an institutional approach, LNU: Doctoral dissertation.
Lord, V. B., Kuhns, J. B., & Friday, P. C. (2009). Small city community policing and citizen satisfaction. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 32(4), 574–594.
MacDonald, J. M. (2002). The effectiveness of community policing in reducing urban violence. Crime & Delinquency, 48(4), 592–618.
Mohamed, B. M. (2013). National security and community policing: a case study of Kenya. Doctoral dissertation, Nairobi: University of Nairobi.
Momanyi, B. (2011). Nairobi residents celebrate a crime-free Christmas: Police, Capital News. http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2011/12/nairobi-residents-celebrate-a-crime-free-christmas-police/. Accessed 16 April 2015.
Mutanu, B. (2014). Crime down by 70pc in Dandora. In Nairobi News : February 24th 2014, 8 - Daily Nation.
Nalla, M. K., & Newman, G. R. (Eds.). (2013). Community policing in indigenous communities. CRC Press.
National Assembly. (2010). Official report, Wednesday, 16th June, 2010. Nairobi: Government Press.
Olima, W. H. (2013). Residents’ participation in neighborhood management and maintenance: Experiences and lessons from Nairobi, Kenya. Http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/. Accessed 11 April 2015.
Openshaw, S., & Taylor, P. J. (1979). A million or so correlation coefficients: three experiments on the modifiable areal unit problem. Statistical Applications in the Spatial Sciences, 21, 127–144.
Parks, M. J. (2013) Urban poverty traps: neighborhoods and violent victimization and offending in Nairobi, Kenya. Urban Studies. 0042098013504144.
Pinto, A. F., & de Garay, M. E. S. (2014). Community policing in Mexico the framework of resistance and conditions of possibility. stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 3(1), Art-43.
Rasmussen, J. (2012). Inside the system, outside the law: operating the matatu sector in Nairobi. Urban Forum, 23, 415–32.
Raudenbush, S. W., & Sampsojn, R. J. (1999). Ecometrics: toward a science of assessing ecological settings, with application to the systematic social observation of neighborhoods. Sociological Methodology, 29, 1.
Reisig, M. D. (2010). Community and problem‐oriented policing. Crime and Justice, 39(1), 1–53.
Roberts, M. J. (2012). Conflict analysis of the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya. In A. G. Adebayo (Ed.), Managing conflicts in Africa’s democratic transitions. USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing.
Ruteere, M. (2011). More than political tools: the police and post-election violence in Kenya. African Security Review, 20(4), 11–20.
Ruteere, M., & Pommerolle, M. E. (2003). Democratizing security or decentralizing repression? the ambiguities of community policing in Kenya. African Affairs, 102(409), 587–604.
Ruteere, M., Mutahi, P., Mitchell, B., & Lind, J. (2013). Missing the point: violence reduction and policy misadventures in Nairobi’s poor neighborhoods. Evidence Report, 39, Institute of Development Studies.
Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277(5328), 918–924.
Sherman, L. W., Gartin, P. R., & Buerger, M. E. (1989). Hot spots of predatory crime: routine activities and the criminology of place. Criminology, 27(1), 27–56.
Singer, E., & Kulka, R. A. (2002). Paying respondents for survey participation. Studies of welfare populations: Data collection and research issues 105–128.
Stavrou, A. (2002). Crime in Nairobi: results of a citywide victim survey. Un-habitat, 4.
Stein, R. E. (2010). The utility of country structure: a cross-national multilevel analysis of property and violent victimization. International Criminal Justice Review, 20(1), 35–55.
Stein, R. E., & Griffith, C. (2015). Resident and police perceptions of the neighborhood implications for community policing. Criminal Justice Policy Review 0887403415570630.
Thuo, A. D. M. (2013). Impacts of urbanization on land use planning, livelihood and environment in the Nairobi rural–urban fringe, Kenya. International Journal of Science Technology Research, 2, 70–79.
Tranchant, J. P. (2013). Making the urban poor safer: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra. UK: Institute of Development Studies.
Ward, J. T., Nobles, M. R., Youstin, T. J., & Cook, C. L. (2014). Placing the neighborhood accessibility–burglary link in social-structural context. Crime & Delinquency, 60(5), 739–763.
Weisburd, D., Maher, L., Sherman, L., Buerger, M., Cohn, E., & Petrisino, A. et al. (1993). Contrasting crime general and crime specific theory: The case of hot spots of crime. In (Eds.) F. Adler, W. S. L.aufer. New Directions in Criminological Theory 4: 45–70.
Weisburd, D., Telep, C. W., Hinkle, J. C., & Eck, J. E. (2010). Is problem-oriented policing effective in reducing crime and disorder? Criminology Publications Policy, 9, 139–172.
Weisburd, D. L., Groff, E. R., & Yang, S.-M. (2012). The criminology of place: Street segments and our understanding of the crime problem. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wisler, D., & Onwudiwe, I. D. (2008). Community policing in comparison. Police Quarterly, 11(4), 427–446.
The first author would like to express her gratitude to the law enforcement in Dandora and Buruburu, Nairobi and to Professor Alexander Zipf (University of Heidelberg, Germany) for their support, as well as to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for funding this research. The authors are also grateful for the valuable comments from the anonymous reviewers.
About this article
Cite this article
Mburu, L., Helbich, M. Communities as Neighborhood Guardians: A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Community Policing in Nairobi's Suburbs. Appl. Spatial Analysis 10, 189–210 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12061-015-9178-7
- Community policing
- Kernel density estimation
- Space-time scan statistic
- Multi-level regression
- Nairobi (Kenya)