The role of any police institution is law enforcement and protection of the community. In many contexts, particularly after conflict, police officers tend to be removed from the population, perceived to be perpetrators rather than service providers and assume a quasi-military role rather than a protection role. Most of the internationally supported police reform processes take place in post-conflict contexts and the challenge is almost always how to bridge the gap between the police and the community and how to bring back the police from a unique law-enforcement role, towards a more balanced community protection role.

In an SSR context, police reform aims to transform the values, culture, policies and practices of police organizations so that police can perform their duties with respect for democratic values, human rights and the rule of law. Given the police’s direct interaction with the community and the powers typically conferred to them, it is vital to ensure that police officers adhere to high standards of professionalism and accountability in their work. A lack of effective democratic control, accountability and oversight over security institutions, notably the military and police, can trigger conflict.

Police reform also aims to improve the way law enforcement agencies interact and cooperate among themselves and with other parts of the security and justice sector, such as the courts, the military, border authorities or the parliamentary or independent authorities with oversight responsibilities, among others.

Selected Resources on Police Reform

ISSAT Knowledge Products on Police Reform

Police Reform Methodology and Practice

Other Resources

ISSAT Police Reform Mandates