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The Chiefs of Community Policing in Rural Sierra Leone*

  • Peter Albrecht (a1)


This paper argues that when police reform in Sierra Leone was instituted to consolidate a state system after the country's civil war ended in 2002, it reproduced a hybrid order instead that is embodied by Sierra Leone's primary local leaders: paramount and lesser chiefs. In this sense, policing has a distinctly political quality to it because those who enforce order also define what order is and determine access to resources. The hybrid authority of Sierra Leone's chiefs emanates from multiple state-based and localised sources simultaneously and comes into play as policing takes place and police reform moves forward. This argument is substantiated by an ethnographic exploration of how and with what implications community policing has been introduced in Peyima, a small town in Kono District, and focuses on one of its primary institutional expressions, Local Policing Partnership Boards.


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Thank you to Anna Leander, Helene Maria Kyed, Bruce Baker, Lisa Denney and Susan Michael for their critical input and to the two anonymous reviewers who made clear and useful comments that helped to sharpen the argument of this paper.



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  • Anonymous civil servant, Ministry of Internal Affairs, November 2008, Freetown.

  • Brima Acha Kamara, Inspector-General of Police (Sierra Leone) (2003–2010), SLP, May 2009, Freetown.

  • Elizabeth Turay, Assistant Inspector-General, July 2013, SLP, Freetown.

  • Ibrahim ‘Kalilu’ Kamara, PRO and LPPB member, March 2009, Peyima.

  • Keith Biddle, Inspector-General of Police (Sierra Leone) (1999–2003), numerous interviews, conversations in the UK and France and email exchanges between 2008 and 2015, France and the UK.

  • Kellie Conteh, National Security Coordinator (1999–2012), August 2008, Freetown.

  • Mustapha Kambeh, Chief Superintendent, March 2009, SLP, Motema.

  • Thomas Lahai, Chief Superintendent, July 2013, SLP, Freetown.

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