Gambian Youths and Gambia Police Force Security Sector Reforms

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By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

Context

On Wednesday 20th February 2019 I was part of a group of CSO actors who attended a meeting with the Gambia Police Force (GPF). Imagine Gambian youths who orchestrated #DafaDoy and #OccupyWestfield having a meeting with the GPF with the aim of implementing Security Sector Reforms? Well that was too good to be true. Instead, Executive Members of the CSO, Team Gom Sa Bopa (TGSB) meet with the GPF to fill in questionnaires for the Gambian Public.

Questionnaire

The topic of the questionnaire was on the review of the Police Act and the drafting of a new Police Bill 2019 to implement Security Sector Reforms. Unlike the consultative meeting that was expected, there was very little dialogue involved and it was more of an exercise to gather information of what the public think of the GPF.

First of all the whole questionnaire was 11 pages long and some of the topic covered include Police Core Business, Service Delivery, Public Order Management and Reassurance, Crime Management, Community Policing, Traffic Management, Police Public Confidence, Police Professional Conduct and Discipline, Change and much more.

GPF Questionnaire

Leading Questions

My first observation was on the manner in which the questions were structured. Take question 5 for example which asks, “Are you satisfied with the service provided by the Gambian Police Force?” The following question 6 asks “why are you not satisfied with the service provided by the Gambian Police Force?” This gives the impression that the person writing the questionnaire expects a negative response from the person filling the form. A more open-ended approach would be “If not, why are you not satisfied with the service provided by the Gambian Police Force?”

Three Interesting Questions

Below are a few interesting questions from the questionnaire and my responses.

Traffic Management

Q23 How satisfied are you with the capacity and capability of the Gambia Police Force to prevent fatal and serious road traffic collisions and ensure public safety on public roads?

A23 My biggest concern is how the Authorities drive. I almost lost got crashed into by presumably executive vehicles. Driving against the traffic without any warning escort. Very dangerous.

Police Public Service Charter / Agreement

Q27 What quality of standard do you expect from the Gambia Police Force?

A27 To get to a point where people feel safer when the police are around. Stop taking bribes and follow the laws of the Gambia diligently.

Change

Q57 What do you think should be changed in the Gambia Police Force, to enhance its professionalism and service delivery?

A57 Security sector reforms need a holistic approach. The Police must first be paid better and also realise their duty is to protect citizens first and not the authorities at the citizens’ expense. UK Community Policing is a good example for The Gambia. I have organised over a dozen peaceful protests in the UK which have all been incident free. Only moving protests need a protest permit to inform traffic.

Conclusion

The whole meeting lacked sincerity in my view. It came across as a tick the box exercise. For something as important as Security Sector Reforms one would expect a bit more dialogue. Maybe in a town hall setting and actually listen to what the general public want from the Security Sector Reforms. Instead, the questionnaire feels like a process demanded from the sponsors of the project. There needs to be more consultation than simply filling in forms.

 

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