Policing in Angola

Table of contents


With a need to maintain order and protect the citizens, nations such as Angola are grappling with how to create and maintain a police force. This study assesses the strengths and weaknesses of using non-state police forces in a law keeping and enforcement capacity. The results of this study illustrate that there is a high potential for corruption, yet, the need for protection is greater than the possibility of abuse. This study will be of interest to any person delving into the strengths and weaknesses of a non-state policing solution.

1 Introduction

The need to ensure the security of the ordinary citizens in the nation of Angola on a day to day basis has prompted the consideration of creating and applying non-state policing actors (Hallsworth et al., 2011; Baker, 2006). With too little money from the regional government given for a police force, outside actors including businesses, private citizens and foreign nations can be utilized as investors in order to provide the service of policing the community. Non-state police forces are often unregulated and have the potential to take on a wide variety of forms that will speak to the characteristics of the surrounding population (Wood et al., 2007; Gill, 1994). Yet, it is necessary to avoid varied forces including vigilante groups that seek their own goals to neighbourhood watches and instead seek to stabilize a community made up of equally varied members giving the population to find them working against the same mutual enemy.

Violent crime as well as rampant civil rights abuses has continuously promoted the need for a policing force throughout Angola and the entire African continent (Johnston et al., 2003; Wood et al., 2007). Alongside the need to keep the peace is the inherent need of the underlying community to support the force and the policies resting behind the enforcement of the tenants of the region. What cannot be denied is that despite the potential for abuse, there is a need for a centred and recognizable police force, whether a state or non-state actor, in order to ensure that day to day activities that contribute to the long term health of the nation are attended to. This brief illustrates the pro and con arguments surrounding the non-state police agenda and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

2 Non state policing in Angola

2.1 Pro non state policing

There is several sound reasons that a government such as Angola’s would choose to create and implement a non-state policing force (Wood et al., 2007; Hallsworth et al., 2011). Ranking as the primary motivation is the need for community security that allows for day to day activities to progress without hindrance. Furthermore, this perception of cultural stability aids in the operation of the underlying and associated financial and consumer markets that are themselves integral to the stability of the state (Crank et al., 2007; Baker, 2010). With a law abiding citizenry comes the opportunity to build a sound financial base that allows the operation of external and internal projects. With high crime rates to blame for abuses against the most vulnerable of Angola, the absence of a police force allows the criminal element to come to the fore, which in turn is directly against the needs of the regional population to grow and prosper (Hallsworth et al., 2011; Baker, 2006).

Enforcement of the law is only one facet of any regions police force, making the need for a working unit critical to Angola (Johnston et al., 2003). Absent the taxpayer funds to establish and operate a working force, the non-state police option provides a method that can accomplish the goals of both the government and the consumer community. With a private force the tax payer does not typically feel the sting of payment that these forces need to remain relevant in the states interest (Gill, 1994; Baker, 2006). This element provides many opportunities for private investors to step forth and equip the non-state police force in a manner that some of the poorer nations, such as Angola, can only hope to afford. Furthermore, a key advantage of many outside or private police entities are the established outside contacts and expertise that is brought into the region as a result of the engagement (Crank et al., 2007; Baker, 2006). In many cases the skilled labour may not be present in the immediate area, requiring the need to look to the outside community for better talent and resources.

Another opportunity provided by the consideration of a non-state police force in Angola is the potential to transform relations with neighbour nations or allies by incorporating elements of their working infrastructure (Gill, 1994; Johnston et al., 2003). It is become more common of multinational police forces to work together towards a goal that serves to benefit the entire international outlook by ensuring the stability of the region. Furthermore, this form of non-state or shared policing builds bridges and understanding between enforcement departments that often have work across national and international borders in order to address the issue at hand (Hallsworth et al., 2011).

In summary, the primary positives resting behind the non-state police force in Angola is the increase in talent, decrease in state funds spent and the opportunity to find international partners that will assist to maintain order in the long run.

2.2 Against Non-state policing

As with any employee or outside agency, bringing in an outside police force to Angola, holds the potential to be abused and subverted to the interests of others (Hallsworth et al., 2011; Baker, 2010). Private interests often play a pivotal role in choosing, maintaining and implementing any form of non-state policing, making the persons behind the effort at once suspect and complicit in the case of corruption. Lending itself well to the spectre of corruption, non-state policing can have chilling impact on the target community by stifling business and community activities to the point that there is a visible loss of enthusiasm and production (Johnston et al., 2003; Wood et al., 2007). Furthermore, this perception of public abuse on the part of the policing efforts contributes to criminal activity and unproductive behaviour on the part of the local population.

A secondary concern when dealing with a non-state police force in Angola is the need for the organisation to properly understand the community that they are assigned to protect (Wood et al., 2007; Crank et al., 2007). Many times an outside operator will mistake a cultural element as a risk, which in turn may lead to an issue that should never have been created in the first place. Furthermore, the local populace may not hold a great deal of confidence in the outside force, which can become a substantial hindrance in the operation of day to day policing activities (Baker, 2002; Wood et al., 2007). If the community is not helpful many opportunities will be lost to the non-state police effort. Yet, this can many times turn into a private citizenry that expects special favours of the police force, leading to another issue that has the potential to lead to widespread abuse and corruption.

The level of training and professionalism among these private forces can quickly become a liability in the effort to sustain a working police force (Johnston et al., 2003; Baker, 2002). With many forces seeking to cut corners and save money whenever possible, there is a real potential to provide a undertrained and ill equipped force that could possible cause more harm than good in the region. Furthermore, the less training provided to the force enhances the opportunity for corruption and the skewing of the original effort to protect the citizenry (Baker, 2010; Crank et al., 2007). Finally, with a force that relies on funding there is the real possibility for a rich person or outside organisation to negatively influence the operation of the police force, making the need for oversight both critical and expensive (Wood et al., 2007; Gill, 1994).

In summary, the negative aspects of using a non-state police force include possible corruption, lack of training and the absence of cultural sensitivity that aids in conducting many day to day police centred operations. Furthermore, there is the very real opportunity for a well-funded outside entity to have a substantial impact on the operation of the police force, which in turn can produce a range of further negativity.

3 Conclusion

The need to ensure the security of the ordinary citizen on a day to day basis throughout Angola has prompted the consideration of a non-state policing system. As this brief indicates, there is a need for a police force in order to create a sustainable and liveable condition in the nation of Angola. Yet, as the evidence insists, the presence of corruption and abuse is likely. However, the need for citizenry protection and stability outweighs the possibility of negative policy. It would seem possible for an Angolan effort to keep the policing force transparent would lead to a working force that benefits the population more than the special interests. Coupled with the reduction in overall state costs, the prospect of a working police force provides outside investors with a reason to hope for stability, thereby increasing the likelihood of investment which aids in the building Angolan infrastructure.

In the end, no matter the negative potential, the evidence suggests that a non-state policing force offers more benefit than detriment, leading to the recommendation of creating and implementing a non-state policing force in the African nation of Angola.


Baker, B. (2002). Living with non-state policing in South Africa: the issues and dilemmas. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 40(01).

Baker, B. (2006). The African post-conflict policing agenda in Sierra Leone. Conflict, Security & Development, 6(1), pp.25-49.

Baker, B. (2010). Grasping the Nettle of Nonstate Policing. Journal of International Peacekeeping, 14(3-4), pp.276-300.

Crank, J. and Giacomazzi, A. (2007). Areal policing and public perceptions in a non?urban setting: one size fits one. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 30(1), pp.108-131.

Gill, P. (1994). Policing politics. London: F. Cass.

Hallsworth, S. and Lea, J. (2011). Reconstructing Leviathan: Emerging contours of the security state.Theoretical Criminology, 15(2), pp.141-157.

Johnston, L. and Shearing, C. (2003). Governing security. London: Routledge.

Wood, J. and Shearing, C. (2007). Imagining security. Cullompton: Willan.

ZIMBABWE: Security Sector Reform Deadlock. (2011). Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series, 48(7), pp.18921C-18923C.

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