Mlalawi Police Service

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The name of the project is Justice for Vulnerable groups and is being implemented in three districts of Malawi namely Mangochi, Salima and Dedza. Malawi is a land locked country found in the southern part of Africa. Women faced a lot of challenges to access justice and children had no law to protect them from harmful effects of arrest and detention until 2010 when the Child Care Protection and Justice Act was enacted by the Parliament of Malawi. The Police run the Victim Support Unit where cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are reported. Every year, over 12000 cases of GVB were reported of which 80% are reported by women and children. The remaining 20% of the cases are reported by men. In the year 2015, 4178 children were arrested and only 35% were diverted according to the requirement of Child Care Protection and Justice Act of Malawi which was passed in 2010. The diversion rate increased to 60% in 2016. This Act requires that children in conflict with the law should be diverted if they are first offenders and if they are accepting the charge. Therefore this project came aimed at reducing cases of GBV by 10% and reducing number of Children in custody by 90% using diversion. GBV is wide spread in Malawi however the reporting rate is very low due to prevailing culture of silence in families. There is a belief that “Perseverance is an ingredient of happy marriage” which makes it very difficult for women not to report abuse in their families. There is also a belief of punishing children through arrests to change their behavior. Unfortunately once in custody, they are mixed with adults and tend to learn how to commit bigger crimes and become habitual offenders. This initiative was required to improve service delivery of the police officers who work in the VSU by improving their capacity and developing guidelines for the officers. Knowledge management is also another area which was focused in the project so that the officers working on ground can be able to share the fruits of their work. The project also produced training manual for basic recruits to enable new police officers acquire knowledge and skills for helping children in conflict with the law and as victims.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution to the problem was to increase knowledge in GBV case management. The second solution was to provide channels for referrals of all cases that needed referrals. The third solution was to raise awareness among people in the impact area to enable them prevent and respond to GBV issues.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
This initiative managed to increase number of children diverted from the normal justice system by 60% in the 4 years of implementation of the project. It has helped the police to increase conviction in sexual offences by 60% and being able to have longer sentences for the perpetrators of these crimes especially sexual offences. The GBV cases which were reported at the VSU were handled professionally as 50% of the cases were handled through mediation where both the perpetrator and victim are invited and the Police Officers help them to solve their problem. This helps the perpetrator to feel warned and be able to stop committing more offences. It also helps both parties to be able to air out their differences and come up with a viable solution. Parents are now able to talk to their children instead of arresting them. The initiative has improved police officers’ response to children that are arrested as they make sure that they are either diverted or where this is not possible, the child protection officers speeds up the file to go to court so that it can be diverted at the court or send the child to safe homes in shortest period of time. The local people are able to protect their villages and all children who drop out of school are easily reported either to Police, mother groups of Community Policing Panels from the areas. Police Officers are able to work hand in hand with teachers and the chiefs whenever there is anything which needs their attention in the area.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
This initiative is creative and innovative because it has used the existing community policing structures to change the attitudes of the people in the impact areas towards GBV. Firstly it has created layers of reporting that complement each other. A case can be reported by Community Policing Forum or the children or some women group. The initiative has also helped to make people understand that the primarily protectors of the communities are communities themselves not the police. The involvement of the children in the initiative makes it so unique as for a LONG TIME IN Malawi GBV issues were parental issues dealt with without consent or knowledge of the children. This reverses such type of thinking.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was being implemented by the Malawi Police Service through its structures at station, post and unit levels. Police Units are located right in communities with ability to monitor what goes on in communities The Malawi Police Service runs VSU in all its police stations, posts and units. In these units cases of GBV and any other case which requires privacy are handled. Services rendered in the VSU are mediation, counseling, advice giving, referring of cases and first aid. The VSU also conducts awareness meetings both in villages and in schools. In these VSU’s 90% of the working strength is comprised of female police officers because 80% of cases received in these offices are reported by women and children. The Police works with the local people who forms CPF’s in their areas, working with schools gave the police a chance to also work with mother groups which are found in the schools. 2,107,953 people managed to benefit from the project as it was run in the three districts of Mangochi, Salima and Dedza.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The police implemented this initiative with funding from UNICEF. The funds which were channeled to police headquarters who then channeled it to the 3 police stations who were going into the 20 units, 35 Villages and 70 Schools to implement the project. Officers from the 20 police units joined forces with the District team to train the 35 Community Policing Panels from the Villages and visited schools at least twice a week to conduct awareness meetings with the school children and sometimes with their parents. The stations also had funds to strengthen the school referral systems. Mother groups were trained in responding to gender based violence, and were also oriented to Child Care Protection and Justice Act. Suggestion boxes were placed in different school as an alternative method of reporting. The initiative created a special police officer responsible for each school who was visiting the school twice weekly and worked hand in hand with teachers. This promoted good learning environment for the children. Some funds were used to develop child protection guidelines, diversion guidelines, VSU guide lines and Child Protection Training Manuals. The other funds were used to validation and endorsement workshops by senior police officers and Police High Command respectively. Another key activity was train of the trainers from all Police training institutions on Child protection manual and Gender related laws. Another component of funds was spent on equipment including reflector jackets, whistles and bicycles which were purchased and distributed to the trained Community Policing Panels. In all these 70 Schools there are mother groups which are formed to protect girls from violence and be able to advocate for girls at the school. These committees were also trained on how they can protect themselves from GBV. As for the girls, they were oriented on how to report GBV and the use of different case management paths for referral. At each and every school a painting of referral path is painted to help the children be able to report where ever they feel comfortable to report. Below is an example of such painting. Awareness meetings were conducted in the villages of the project impact areas and 245 communities were reached with these meetings. In some communities more than one meeting was conducted depending on how vast is the catchment area. Monitoring was done every month by sending of monthly reports. Officers from National Police Headquarters and UNICEF visited the district to monitor the work. Evaluation was done biannually by meeting all the officers who are involved in the implementation of the project at one place for easy sharing of knowledge.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare is the policy holder of Gender issues. MPS works hand in hand with the Ministry on this issue. The other stakeholders included UNICEF UJAMAA Pamodzi and Plan Malawi. Local people were used to set up the CPF’s. They were later trained on how they can protect the vulnerable people in their area and how they can coordinate with the police. Chiefs were consulted and oriented on the project. As they are the gate keepers of the village and owners of culture which is the main contributing factor to the GBV in the country. Opinion leaders is the areas were also consulted so that they can have the knowledge of what is happening in their area and these are the people who helped in organizing of public rallies where the local people choose who should be in the committee. Selected senior and junior police officers had a task of developing the guidelines and the training manual which after it was developed was endorsed by the High Command of the Malawi Police Service comprising of Police Commissioners from the service. UJAMAA Pamodzi and Plan Malawi were in the project to give counseling to the children who are victimized and teach self defense to those who are not affected.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Community Policing forums were established and trained. In all the impact areas of the project one police officer has been allocated to be going to the school twice every week. Meetings have been conducted both in the school and the communities Allocation of suggestion boxes in all the schools has been done to encourage the students be able to report different issues affecting their day to day living both at the school and in their homes. 105 police officers were trained in case management and a Child protection so that they can be ambassadors of the project in the lower police formations also known as police units. 450 awareness meeting have been conducted Women and Children are able to report cases of GBV. Cases of school dropout have reduced by 40% GBV cases has reduced with 30% comparing 2015 and 2016 Developed the guidelines and the policy which were later endorsed by the high command, then disseminated into the system.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacles is unavailability of motor vehicles which can be used to rescue victims and make follow up of cases. In these stations there is one car allocated to the station and this car has to do all the work which the police do in the district and it tends out to be impossible to have the car in time we receive clients. This prompted the officers to write the UNFPA who donated motor bikes to ease mobility of the officers. GBV cases involves people who are related, this makes the Victims who report cases of GBV to be withdrawing cases fearing that they will not live peacefully with the arrested person or if they are bread winners in the family, the victim opt for the a withdraw of the case. To solve the problem the women are encouraged to join clubs that economically empower them. Conflicts between tradition and Laws of the country. Gender related laws sometimes conflict with culture. For example, culturally when a man and a woman are divorcing culturally all the property goes to the man and the woman only gets kitchen utensils. On the other hand, the Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act state that the property has to be shared equally. This keeps confusing both the people and the chiefs. The Chiefs were included in training of the Community Policing Panels to increase their knowledge of the Laws. In the 20 Police Units which were impact areas of the project only the parent Stations which are at the district have a VSU office constructed. The 17 operates in a shared room or under a tree which poses as a challenge to the privacy of the client.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The school going children are now able to report cases affecting their school life directly to Police or putting a note in the complaint box at their school. The students are able to tip the service providers on their friends who have dropped out of school into an early marriage to this fact 204 girls have been withdrawn from such marriages and offered counseling and gone back to school. Whenever there is violence in a house in the community the Community Policing Panels are able to respond and rescue, then refer the case to appropriate offices for further action. Police officers are now able to handle properly children in conflict with the law such that diversion rate has moved from 30% in 2015 to 43% in 2016. Previously most convicts of defilement were given light sentences but because of the coming of this project convicts get over 15 years of imprisonment on sexual offences. There has been improved efficiency in interventions in highly affected areas due to s system of monitoring and evaluation that requires monthly reporting with strict deadlines.. Members of the community are now able to report cases of GBV to Police because of the knowledge they gained from the awareness meetings which the Police have been conducting. To this effect the Police received almost 90% of all the reported GBV cases in the impact areas Recruits are coming from the training institution with knowledge of how to handle issues of children both as victims and as perpetrators, making it easy for them to professionally help the children they meet in course of their duties. The Child protection guidelines helped the officers who are already in the service to have knowledge of how to handle issues of children. The VSU guidelines made it possible for the officers who are attached to the Unit to understand what really takes place in the unit, how to conduct themselves and what is expected of them during the time they are attached to the Unit

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
According the Laws of Malawi citizen arrest is possible. The project gave power to the citizens to be able to make follow up on any cases they suspect something. For example, if a person is not being taken to court after being presented to the police the citizen were empowered to take the Officer in Charge to task to explain what was happening.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The whole project was for women and children thus men were only used to strengthen the protection of their communities and reporting, if the women and the children fail to report.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Mlalawi Police Service
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Dorothy Chingipe
Title:   Inspector of Police  
Telephone/ Fax:   265 1796835
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   chingaiped@gmail.com  
Address:   National Police Headquartes,
Postal Code:   Private Bag 305
City:   Lilongwe

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