Watchful Guardian or Dark Knight? Criminological Reflections on Crime Prevention by Self Help Security Outfits In Metropolitan Benin, Nigeria



Nigeria is presently witnessing an upsurge in crime and criminality and unfortunately, its weak criminal justice process has undermined public trust and confidence in the ability of the police to carry out its statutory function. This has created a security vacuum leading to the emergence and proliferation of self-help security outfits as a measure in combating crimes. This study examined the relevance of self-help security outfits against the calls for their proscription. The study utilized the broken window theory in its explanation of the issue of self-help security outfits. The design was exploratory and involved the use of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. Metropolitan Benin was stratified along the existing twelve wards from were eight hundred and forty respondents were sampled. 24 in-depth interviews from the twelve wards were purposively conducted amongst respondents. A descriptive analysis of the quantitative data collected was undertaken using frequency distribution while manual content analysis was used for qualitative data collected from the field work. Findings from this investigation showed that self-help security outfits emerged as a result of the inability of the police to safeguard lives and property and that proscribing them would lead to severe social consequences. Based on the findings of the study, there is the need to have a federal statute to regulate self-help security outfits and this should define in clear terms the relationship between the police and self-help security outfits and make formal training of the self-help security outfits by the police mandatory.

Key words: Vigilantes; crime; police; criminals; human rights

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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