Digital policing technologies and democratic policing: Will the internet, social media and mobile phone enhance police accountability and police–citizen relations in Nigeria?

Citation:
Odeyemi, TI, Obiyan SA.  2018.  Digital policing technologies and democratic policing: Will the internet, social media and mobile phone enhance police accountability and police–citizen relations in Nigeria? International Journal of Police Science & Management. 20:97-108., Number 2

Abstract:

The police are expected to perform functions critical to relations between the government and citizens in democratic societies. However, in Nigeria, the reality is that the police organisation suffers limitations that undermine effective and democratic policing. Although the Nigeria Police Force has a long and chequered history, its services are dogged by challenges including adversarial police–citizen relations and mutual suspicion and police misconduct. To address these problems and enhance policing, the Nigeria Police Force has deployed digital technologies through a Complaint Response Unit [later renamed the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU)]. The PCRRU allows the public to connect with the police through dedicated phone numbers for calls and SMS, and a round-the-clock presence on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger and a mobile application. Although this initiative often draws attention and commendation, it also raises doubts about sustenance and utility value. Drawing on David Easton’s input–output nexus as a theoretical underpinning on the one hand, and data sourced through expert opinion interviews and web measurement on the other hand, this article investigates how these digital policing technologies, through the PCRRU, enhance efforts at mutually rewarding police–citizen relations and police accountability, as requisites of democratic policing, in Nigeria. The findings expand discussion on the dimensions of Nigeria’s police–citizen relations and the potentials of technology in promoting positive outcomes. The findings also suggest means through which police managers can optimise technology in ways that aid strategic efforts at improving public security.

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