The Sierra Leone Police Force has its origins in British colonial administration. After Independence and with the consolidation of one‐party rule the force slid into disrepute.
The outbreak of civil conflict in 1991 largely decimated the force but the gradual restoration of peace provided an opportunity for police reform. This article covers the aspects of the political and institutional environment that helped engender change, as well as constraints faced by the reform agenda. It considers how the officers actually carried out the task at hand, and shares lessons as to what reform tactics worked and which were less successful. While several challenges remain, the reform programme has been largely successful, hinging on – among other factors – the appointment of a British Inspector General of Police; the availability of a core of reform‐minded officers; long‐term external technical and financial assistance; and a conducive political environment for change.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 43.4 (2012) A ‘Force for Good’? Police Reform in Post‐conflict Sierra Leone