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Police Performance Improvement Project


In an unprecedented move in May of 2011, the Sierra Leone Police submitted itself to an extensive diagnostic analysis.  Looking inwards, ad asking, what do we look like to the ordinary citizen?  It was a defining moment in the history of the force.  A point at which Police leadership recognised that they were not going to like all the results they received, but they were going to have to work at changing – and that took a lot of courage.

The public sector in Sierra Leone is much like the public sector in the rest of the sub region.  Its generally less efficient, offers less accountability and practices less customer orientation than the private sector.  Measurements are rare, indicators even rarer.  So what did the Inspector General, Francis Munu, think he was going to achieve with his top team when they approved the diagnostic study which would eventually lead to wide ranging reforms in Human Resources Strategy and Execution within the force?

‘This has been a burning issue on my mind, since when I was the Director in charge of Human Resources.  How do we ensure performance?’.  At the ceremony marking the end of his predecessor’s term, IG Munu said ‘…to attract investors in to the country who can contribute to the socio economic development of the country…’ we need an vibrant and effective police force, which can practice modern policing systems and ensure national security promotes the health, safety and security of the ordinary sierra Leonean.

Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. 

Through the diagnostic review carried out by Ascendant and Company (www.ascendantandcompany.com) and funded in the main by the German International Corporation (GiZ), the SLP discovered a few things they didn’t previously know.  Their strengths are still their strengths – a loyal and committed work force, doing a difficult job in extremely challenging circumstances.  Their weakneses are also deep.   They are not insurmountable.  Relationships between the force need to be better developed, as well as relationships with Police leadership.  Budget management can be a challenge especially when the force depends on insufficient allocations from central government.  Consequently, the mastering of certain new competencies can only happen through actual practice, which is why the Performance Management System is emphasizing mentoring.

It is also imperative that SLP recognises that leadership needs middle management who they can trust to delegate important work to, including budget and facilities management.

It is what it is.  All stakeholders are learning and so is the SLP.  All stakeholder must continuously be learning.  Therefore we will all always need to improve.  SLP will always show strength in some areas, competency in others, and a need to improve in others.

For the nation’s police executive management, there is a willingness to professionalize the police force, training troops and equipping them with relevant skills.  The government of Sierra Leone itself has embarked on an exceptional security sector transformation, as a result of which the military and police have enjoyed much attention.

Public perception of the police remains poor, despite the amount of effort being put into reforms.  Therefore one key thrist of the reforms programs is to translate the significant effort being put into police performance improvement to improvements with stakeholders.  The ordinary citizen might then see the difference and have a different experience with the police.

In September 2013, the Inspector General in conjunction with the Access To Justice Program (funded by the United Kingdom AID) will relaunch its comprehensive performance management program.  This puts the Sierra Leone Police in the forefront of Public Sector Reform in the country as SLP provides a significant example for other government departments to emulate.