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Topic one - The context for use of force by law enforcement officials


The national and regional contexts for the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials varies enormously. The Cook Islands Police Service, which has only a hundred employees, is responsible for law enforcement on 15 islands spread across two million square kilometres of ocean. Brazil, in contrast, is believed to have more than 430,000 police officers and a huge number of private security services.

In one Latin American country, it has been estimated that on duty police, especially uniformed militarized police, are responsible for up to 70 per cent of all civilian murders in the country, and such figures may even underestimate the extent of lethal violence by off duty police officers (Huggins, 2010, p. 73; Casey-Maslen, 2017, p. 129). Drug trafficking typically plays a central role in societies where citizen and police violence are both particularly high. The result has often been the militarization of the police, leading to a spiral of violence in some neighbourhoods (Bayley and Skolnick, 1998).

Another feature of many societies is the growth of private security. In India, for instance, the private security sector has been growing at a rate of 20 per cent annually, already employing some five million people in the country, while a decade ago it was calculated that in South Africa, ten times more people were engaged in private policing than were employed in the police force (Casey-Maslen, 2017, p. 301-2). For more on this topic, see State Regulation concerning Civilian Private Security Services and their Contribution to Crime Prevention and Community Safety  (UNODC, 2014).

Next: Topic two - The legal framework
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