Merida 2.0

This report from the Woodrow Wilson Center focuses on security and justice prospects in Mexico, where the new president has proposed creating a National Guard with law enforcement functions. Previous administrations relied heavily on the military, and on federal police, while threatening to eliminate the country’s 2,500 local and state police agencies. However, despite concerns related to organized and transnational crime, the report argues “the public security problems Mexico faces are increasingly¬†localized and thus require a more decentralized and locally focused approach.” Recommendations for improved professionalism, transparency, and accountability are offered along with a more integrated local-state-national policing structure.

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Lack of accountability for police violence in Kenya

In its 2019 World Report, Human Rights Watch highlights police abuses in Kenya, citing “Lack of accountability for serious human rights violations, perpetrated largely by security forces … abusive police operations in opposition strongholds, with police beating and shooting to death at least 100 opposition protesters and bystanders. Many women and girls were raped and sexually harassed by police during these operations.” Despite assurances, “authorities have overwhelmingly failed to investigate and prosecute cases of widespread police killings across the country,” according to HRW.

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New case screening algorithm in Kent

Kent police in the UK are experimenting with a new algorithm to help decide which cases merit follow-up investigation, as reported here. Similar methods have been used for years to winnow through burglary and theft cases, but Kent is using a formula based on 8 factors to screen assault and public order cases. They have been able to reduce follow-ups from 75% of reported cases to 40%, without damaging their clearance or arrest rates. As one official noted, “Police officers naturally want to investigate everything to catch offenders. But if the solvability analysis suggests there is no chance of a successful investigation, the resources might¬†be better used on other investigations.”

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Civil society & anti-corruption

An experienced prosecutor with international experience has been selected to head South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority. As described here, her appointment and that of new police leadership in the country has been more transparent than in the past, allowing input from civil society organizations. Advocates note that 2018 was designated the “year of anti-corruption” by the African Union, which “names the establishment, maintenance and strengthening of independent national anti-corruption authorities and agencies” as one of the key measures that member states should adopt.

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Durham’s chief

Durham has consistently been rated the UK’s best constabulary over the last several years, despite being one of the hardest hit by reduced funding. This article gives an appreciative profile of their chief, Mike Barton, described paradoxically as liberal but tough on “villains,” a tech innovator who doesn’t send his own e-mails, and “a hands-off boss who often micromanages things.” Unlike many of his peers, he has prioritized community-support officers and front-line problem solving even in the face of severe budget cuts.

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Tennis anyone?

This press release reports the conclusion of a sports fixing investigation in Spain, with 83 arrests including 28 professional tennis players. The case involves an organized crime group that “bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games.” After placing bribes, “the Armenian network members attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and international level.”

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Public opinion toward UK police

Her Majesty’s inspectors have released their report on public opinion toward police in 2018, summarized here with links to full documents. Respondents were more likely to have seen police on foot in their local area than in 2017, views of police effectiveness were up slightly, and 65% agreed that “police in their local area treat people fairly and with respect.” The proportion feeling that crime and anti-social behavior is a problem in their local area was 40%, up from 25% in 2015, and 81% think that online crime is a big problem.

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