Policing and Police Reform in Complex Environments

Welcome by Stefan Feller

Important information: as part of a process to revamp our e-learning offer, this course will be taken offline on Friday 18 December 2020. Please be aware that you may encounter technical issues when completing the current course. Our team apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Welcome to this online course on Policing and Police Reform in Complex Environments! This course is a joint collaboration between the International Security Sector Advisory Team of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF/ISSAT), the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Durham University and the Norwegian Police University College. The United Nations Police Division, including its Standing Police Capacity (SPC), has also made significant contributions to this course. 

The main objective of this course is to enhance participants’ knowledge on the role of a strategic Police Advisor within an international Police Reform context. This will be achieved by highlighting the actors, dynamics and issues related to Police Reform and by discussing how Police Reform initiatives fit into broader Security and Justice Reform processes.

This course is aimed at those currently involved in – or who plan to get involved in supporting Police Reform programmes.

This course is designed to be informative and practical, providing participants with tools, tips, examples and good practice on reform aspects in general and on Police Reform in particular. The ideas put forward in this course should be viewed as options for consideration on a case-by-case basis, and should in no way be interpreted as prescriptive or mandatory.

You will need between five to six hours to complete this course. The course is divided into four main lessons:

Lesson 1: The Roles and Models of an Effective Police Service;

Lesson 2: Contextualising Police Reform;

Lesson 3: Understanding the Process of Police Reform; and

Lesson 4: The Role of the United Nations Police in Peace Operations.

Each lesson has specific learning objectives that will be introduced at the beginning of the lesson. You will also have access to additional resources, including Lesson Manuals, throughout the course. 

N.B. The course works best in Google Chrome. However, other updated versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer can be used as well.

You must be logged in to the Community of Practice in order to take the course. Please .

For further queries on the e-learning, please feel free to get in touch with us at elearning@issat.dcaf.ch

Course info

Target Audience

Those who are currently engaged in, or plan to be engaged in, Police Reform or related processes in international or national settings. 


5-6 hours.

Nota bene

The course works best in Google Chrome. However, other updated versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer can be used as well.


Welcome to the Course

Welcome by UNPOL Chief Stefan Feller.

Introductory Lesson: Fundamentals of Policing and Police Reform

This Lesson will define the key concepts of policing and identify various actors involved in policing. It will also examine the concepts of Police Reform and Security Sector Reform and the relationship between the two.

Lesson 1: The Roles and Models of an Effective Police Service

This Lesson deals with the functions and roles of a modern police service. It introduces key actors, principles and models of policing. 

Download lesson manual for Lesson 1

Lesson 2 - Contextualising Police Reform

This Lesson introduces the reform process and identifies key issues that are addressed by such a process. It also examines triggers for Police Reform and the importance of adapting an SSR approach to Police Reform.

Download lesson manual for Lesson 2

Lesson 3 - Understanding the Process of Police Reform

This Lesson proposes a basic methodology for engaging in Police Reform, both as an implementer and as a supporter. The lesson will also highlight the importance of several cross-cutting issues.

Download lesson manual for Lesson 3

Lesson 4 - The Role of the United Nations Police in Peace Operations

This Lesson will deal with the evolving roles and functions of the United Nations Police. It will also highlight challenges and lessons identified in international support to Police Reform processes.

Download lesson manual for Lesson 4


Consult complete course bibliography or course bibliography broken down according to lessons.

Photo Credits

Acknowledgement of photos used in this course.

Assessment and Evaluation

Take the assessment to obtain your certificate and provide us your feedback.