Best Practices for Building Investigative Capacity in Developing or Post-Conflict Countries

July 27, 2012 - 3:14pm
Publication Image

Police in developing or post-conflict countries are often inadequately trained in criminal investigation methods and processes. It can be a challenge for police in these countries to investigate even a simple case of robbery, let alone murders or complex cases like trafficking in persons. In many such countries, confession-based evidence continues to be relied on, almost exclusively, to secure a conviction. In many instances, confessions are extracted through torture, duress or mistreatment, which raises a whole slew of related human rights issues.

Assistance to nascent police forces in increasing their criminal investigation capacity has been a big part of international assistance to developing and post-conflict countries. While there have been successes, there have also been some severe critiques of assistance programs for their failure to deliver evidence-based success stories, tangible outcomes and improvements in police practices. Commentators have also criticized the standard approach to building police investigative capacity, which has been to focus on ‘train and equip’ projects, without assessing their efficacy, addressing true needs, or providing culturally-relevant instruction or equipment.Moreover, international assistance providers have shied away from documenting failures through comprehensive and honest monitoring and evaluation, which has inhibited the international community’s ability to learn from and improve its assistance.

This research memo gathers the field experience of INPROL’s Police Council of Experts, generous contributions from work of INPROL members, and lessons from limited available literature, with the aim of distilling potential good practices and discussing prospective pitfalls in seeking to improve investigative capacity in developing countries.