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News release

Africans cite corruption, brutality, and lack of professionalism among police failings, new Afrobarometer report reveals

29 Jan 2024
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News release
Key findings
  • Only one-third (32%) of citizens say their police “often” or “always” operate in a professional manner and respect the rights of all citizens, ranging from just 13% in Nigeria to 58% in Burkina Faso (Figure 1).
  • Among respondents who sought police assistance during the previous year, 54% say it was easy to get the help they needed, but 36% say they had to pay a bribe. Among those who encountered the police in other situations, 37% report having to pay a bribe to avoid problems, ranging from 1% in Cabo Verde to 70% in Liberia (Figure 2).
  • Across 39 countries, three in 10 citizens (29%) say their police “often” or “always” engage in criminal activities, in addition to 27% who say they “sometimes” do (Figure 3).
  • On average, about four in 10 Africans say their police “often” or “always” use excessive force in managing protests (38%) and dealing with suspected criminals (42%) (Figure 4).
  • Fewer than four in 10 citizens (37%) say their government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” at reducing crime, ranging from just 10% in Sudan to 77% in Benin (Figure 5).
  • Fewer than half (46%) of citizens say they trust the police “somewhat” or “a lot” (Figure 6).

Only one in three Africans say their police usually operate in a professional manner and respect citizens’ rights, a new Afrobarometer report shows.

An analysis of survey findings from 39 African countries finds that substantial minorities report corruption, use of excessive force, and even criminal activity by their police forces. Fewer than half express trust in the police or approve of their government’s performance in fighting crime.

The analysis shows that negative perceptions of police professionalism and corruption go hand in hand with low public trust in the police, poor marks on government performance in reducing crime, and citizens’ sense of insecurity.