Different responses have been taken by many world governments to fight crimes that are becoming more sophisticated. Policing the twenty-first century is increasingly becoming difficult and complex due to the risks and challenges that continue to bedevil most police forces. Therefore, modern forces are increasingly focusing on fighting crime from a global perspective but at the same time taking care of crime challenges on the local scene.
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Challenges facing world police forces
The global police force faces a myriad of challenges. These challenges can be categorized in two types. The first instance is the process through which these police forces adapt to changes brought about changes in the cultural and social orientation of people in different countries. The second part is the criminal activities that take place as a result of outside forces from different countries in a globally integrated world. “There are also changes that occur internally and are related to changing priorities, the relationships that exist with other members of the community and how all these interact on the local and international level”(Andreas, P & Nadelmann, 2006 p.6).
Challenges facing the police force in the current century go in hand with the changes that are brought about by globalization. Globalization has brought about a fusion of cultures, beliefs, values and attitudes. But it has also witnessed a growth in crimes that cut across many countries and which bring about challenges related to applying international rules that might sometimes conflict with local ones. The integration of businesses, social structures and technology means that a global police force is constantly faced with new and unique challenges. Terrorism has been cited as the major challenge facing current global security forces. An integrated international effort that is all inclusive is important in addressing some of these key challenges facing the global police force. Countries that have well established democratic institutions and are stable are the ones that are bearing the brunt of the new crime challenges brought about by globalization. These countries are faced with an influx of people from other less endowed countries. However, the unchecked influx has led to increased levels of organized crime related to drugs, human trafficking and violent crimes brought about by ethnic tensions from migrants from different backgrounds.
Internal factors affecting police force
Police forces face several internal challenges which occur as a result of different social situations and conditions. In the third world countries, the swift changes that have happened have in most cases resulted in political tumult and decreased the economic conditions. According to Dellasoppa, “democratization of Brazilian political institutions did not go hand in hand with social and economic improvements in the of sphere majority population” (p. 13). Gains made in the political arena were not accompanied by sufficient structural changes in the social settings of the majority of the residents. “Statistics show that there is a relationship between Brazil’s process to democratic institutions and cases of criminal and violence activity in that the more the country moved towards democracy, crime and violent activities reduced”(p. 15). It should be noted that it is important for police forces in developing countries to adopt appropriate strategies necessary to deal with issues related to the rights and freedoms of their citizens.
Remarking on the situation in Cameroon, Messing noted that “the key questions concerns the problem of integrating the security imperative that goes beyond just doing away with crime but also protecting the rights of people which is a key requirement for building a state that has citizens that obeys the rules set out (p.25).
There are a times when international police officers are called upon to offer security in war-torn societies. Consequently, problems that are related to the supervision and preparation of the forces tend to occur. These conflicts erupt and the police have to deal with cultural traditions which in most cases are at odds with the reforms that they may be trying to introduce. Other notable challenges include; Inadequate funds and supplies, and insufficient oversight of the peace-keepers, who in many circumstances may be insensible to the needs and customs of the indigenous population. In addition to the above, there have been cases where they have been accused of being involved in other criminal activities like sexual exploitation and black marketing (Mobekk, 2004 p. 56)
This immigration is often accompanied with problems of high levels of organized crime; mainly trafficking of human beings, violent crimes and drug crimes, ethnic tensions among the immigrants, hatred of the foreigners as a result of competition for jobs, and fear of intimidation.( Goldsmith, 2005 p. 108). This brings about challenges on the part of the local police force in trying to solve these crimes. The events that occurred on September 11th in 2001 witnessed a significant shift in addressing criminal activities, especially those related to terrorism activities. The dangers posed by terrorism became the key focus of police organizations, especially in the US and Western Europe. Other criminal activities seemed to take a back seat as the quest to protect citizens from possible terrorist attacks took centre stage. The problem of terrorism sent most police organizations back to the drawing board to map up strategies to approach this issue which had become both a political, economic and social issue. Hunan rights concerns became more apparent with methods applied by most police organizations raising a lot of questions from international human rights watchdogs and citizens at large.
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King and Sharp (1999 p. 5)) argued that terrorism has become the key centre of focus with resources being channeled towards activities that are geared towards increasing co-operation in sharing of intelligence both on the local and international level. However, reduction in funding of most police organizations on the local level hampers these efforts. The police force faces numerous challenges including the issue of global terrorism, sex trafficking, money laundering and internet fraud. The skewed distribution of wealth across nations has been cited as the cause of sex trafficking across the globe. This problem has continued to be a major challenge to the global police force. Many countries are becoming targets for sex offenders who smuggle vulnerable groups to satisfy a growing sex industry ( McCulloch, 2008 p. 12). The increased demand for women to work in the sex industry has witnessed tremendous growth since the 1990’s and has taken more sophisticated channels that are becoming more problematic for the police to handle because of the complexities involved. Acts of war and militarism have specifically been cited as the major influences of these offences.
The internet has become the new ground on which many crimes are committed. With no universal code of regulation, the internet poses a major barrier in efforts by the police to combat crimes that occur in different countries. Drug and prostitution rings, fraudsters and scams are just a few cases of the negative influences arising from the internationalization of the web.
In some countries, the prominence on improved security, political considerations, and economic challenges have been the inspirations for changing the organizational structure of police organizations. After the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U. S, security and safety became the central objective. During this period, the police and the gendarmerie were merged into one military system (Edelbacher 2002 p.32-33).
The tendency towards a heavily expanded dependence on private security is obvious all over the world. This raises issues of police grouping or competitions with other private security, need for omission of its activities, and possibilities that fortunate people can reward themselves at the expense those who live in economically destitute and treacherous areas (Sarre and Van Steden, 2001 p. 57). There is need for integration in the work of private security firms and police organizations to ensure that conflicts do not occur in their operations. This is important especially in crimes that cuts across different domains and require cooperation from any available security apparatus to ensure adequate measures to combat the crime are put in place.
Changing priorities of different police forces have led to many focusing on primary security related concerns at the expense of other services like community policing and service. Nevertheless, the importance of community policing in fighting crime is still highly appreciated by other countries. For example, in Japan, police box is very important especially that one which is situated in the urban areas like Koban as well as that one which is situated in the rural areas like chuzaisho. This police boxes are very effective in controlling the residents of those particular areas. When a perceptible police presence is sustained, police are in a position to quickly respond to emergencies, and hence they are viewed as part and parcel of the local community (Higuchi, 2005 p. 124) In Janeiro, Brazil, Proper Police Station Program has been ascertained to “reestablish the image of the police that had lost the public trust. Changes, both of physical and duties were implemented through proper supervisory mechanisms”(Husain, 2005 p. 467). The U. S, has directly been involved in training citizen volunteers in policing efforts which of course has produced positive results
The other important 21st century concern is on police accountability and oversight. In some countries, overemphasis on security has led to the curtailing of many freedoms as a result of police being given more powers. Concerns over human rights continue to be raised as a result of giving police immense powers. Due to the fact that Civilians boards have not performed as required they tend to face criticisms for only dealing with individual misconducts in nature.
Review boards cannot effectively carry out these duties because they have several limitations. One is that they use volunteers who cannot dedicate much of their time in the activities of the boards. They are also limited when it comes to their ability to carry out effective investigations and identify areas that need to be addressed and also ensure that there is follow up to the recommendations that they make (Jurado 2005 p. 1). There are various organizations that have been lauded for being at the forefront in recognizing the abuses carried out by police forces and have played crucial roles in promoting reforms in different police forces across the world. Some of these organizations include transparency international and Human Rights Watch. Police officers carry out important duties to protect the wellbeing of citizens of different countries. But in their quest to provide these they have engaged in questionable acts that have in most cases raise questions regarding accountability and oversight in police forces. But in some cases, the police officers have been victims of unwarranted misunderstanding and criticisms. The challenge has been ensuring that police officers carry out their duties in a transparent manner and at the same time ensuring that their work is not compromised as a result of this. This is because the consequences can negatively affect their ability to effectively discharge their duties in a professional manner. Therefore, it should be noted that any decisions regarding the work of police officers affect the overall police officers relationships with other family members, colleagues and the society at large. Mechanisms related to ensuring that there is accountability in police operations are very important because they ensure that their everyday work runs without any conflicts (Brodeur, 2000 p.6)
The Police unions are mainly concerned with matters of accountability, oversight and police reforms as they are related to officers’ rights. Equally, they tend to react to other issues pertinent to 21st century policing, such as changes in police organization structures and governance concerns that are related to security. Police unions are put in place to ensure that officers’ rights are addressed. However, not all countries have recognized the key role played by these unions and therefore their police forces are not represented adequately. This means that the importance that is placed on a particular issue by the union relates to the current political climate in a given country. At the same time union members are only concerned with their own priorities which are normally expressed through union leaders (Messing 2005, p. 13).
The future is bound to witness all forms of crime as more channels of communication become sophisticated. Also, the financial and commercial entities continue to change bringing about new challenges. The development and amalgamation of different countries’ economies has many challenges associated with it, especially when it comes to the issue of criminal blending and operations of rightful economic activities (Sheptycki, 2008. P. 143). Proceeds from illegitimate criminal activities will continue to be channeled into legal enterprises and investments. Transnational crimes occur due to increase in networks across borders provide easier opportunities to engage in crime activities that transcends territorial boundaries. Crime is moving to another level of sophistication with incorporation of technology by organized crime networks to carry out their criminal activities. Police networks will need to adapt to fast changes of technology and this means that greater efforts should be channeled towards skills training to appropriately prepare them to adequately address the increasing complexity of criminal networks.
In conclusion, today’s fast globalization is experiencing rapid changes in the social and economic spheres. The modern police force will only be efficient if it aligns itself to these changes. Advanced technologies, changing socio-political and economic environments have facilitated new waves of criminal activities which have placed additional burden on current policing initiatives. The most crucial task facing national governments is to ensure that there are proper laws, legislation and political will to ensure that these challenges are dealt with in a manner that is appropriate. Cooperation between different country police forces will ensure that there is harmonization in their operations that application of laws is in tandem to international standards. As the world becomes more globalized, it is imperative that police forces re-orient themselves to deal with challenges arising from the diffusion of different cultures and values.
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Edelbacher, M (2002) ‘The war against illegal immigration: State crime and the construction of European identity, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 87-101.
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Goldsmith, N (2005) ‘Expanding surveillance: connecting biometric information systems to international police cooperation. Devon: Willan Publishing. Pp 23-76.
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Mobekk S (2004) ‘The production of sovereignty and the rise of transversal policing: people smuggling and federal policing”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 362-379.
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