Preventing Crime in Communities: A Critical Analysis of Community Safety in a Lower Income Neighbourhood in Nairobi, Kenya

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The World Bank (2011) refers to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi as one of the most crime-ridden cities in Africa. The purpose of this thesis is to critically analyse community safety initiatives as an approach to crime prevention in lower-income Nairobi, Kenya. Qualitative research took place in 2015 in Kibera, an informal settlement that is considered to have one of the highest crime rates in the city (SRIC, 2014).

    This research identified the main crimes occurring in Kibera to be robbery, stealing, burglary and sexual violence. Community safety initiatives established for the purpose of crime prevention require collaboration with formal and informal social control mechanisms; however, within Kibera there appears to be an absence of law enforcers (SRIC, 2014) and a lack of procedural justice and trust in them (Sunshine and Tyler, 2003). As a consequence of this a security void is created which is filled by various actors and methods of informal social control, including collective violence and the formation of vigilante groups.

    This thesis argues that a community safety approach to crime prevention can enhance collective efficacy, and effectively improve security through developing subtle informal social control mechanisms to regulate deviant behaviour of both the police and the public (Reiner, 2010). This has the potential to improve the perceived legitimacy of formal social control methods.

    It is hoped this research will contribute to the literature and gaps in knowledge on existing community initiatives and responses to deal with crime in Nairobi’s lower-income neighbourhoods, which has been identified to be limited (Ruteere et al. 2013; Mutahi, 2011a; Mutahi, 2011b). This research also suggests that community safety initiatives could play a role in supporting democratic policing reforms through improving community – police relations and assist with developing lawful informal and formal social control mechanisms.
    Date of AwardFeb 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorColin Rogers (Supervisor)

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