Contributor: Open Society Foundations
Across the globe, the primary point of contact most citizens have with their government is a police officer. Competent and honest law enforcement is a mainstay of the rule of law. Insufficient or ineffective investment in the public security sector can result in weak or non-functioning security institutions, unable to respond to or deter crime and violence.
Information about patterns of criminality, including distribution, level and rates of crime, allow citizens to assess whether remedial approaches being taken are effective. Citizens can also assess whether the police are addressing crimes that affect most people, or targeting special interests or groups to their advantage or disadvantage and if the available information suggests good policy or, to the contrary, mismanagement and corruption.
Publication of information—about the structures and numbers of police personnel, salary scales, seized assets, persons in detention, and measures of core activities of the criminal justice system—is one of the most powerful ways to protect against corruption and mismanagement in police forces, support more informed discussion of operational approaches, and improve public perception of the police.