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Informal Economic Activities of Police in Transformation Countries and Goals of the Law Enforcement System

Priority areas of development: sociology
Department: Laboratory for Sociological Analysis
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: research of the relation between involvement of the police officers in the informal economic activities with the estimates of public safety in the base of the cross-country survey in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia

Methodology: Questionnaire survey, interview, experimental methods, data of the budget statistics of the Ministry of Interior

Empirical base of research: Sociological survey of 1850 police officers in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia; Data of the budget statistics of the Ministry of Interior, 2004-2015

Results of research:

Mass political protests of the end of 2011, although they were not the cause of the growth of budget expenditures on law enforcement agencies, however, contributed to a political justification of such growth (shortly before it obviously does not consider it necessary), and consolidation of the expenditure on the following budget cycle.

The decision of the Russian President to change the structure of the law enforcement agencies in April 2016 has provoked significant changes. In principle, these changes maintained the organizational and legal consolidation of the law enforcement system emerged during last 15 years. During this period, it has consistently demonstrated its duality, including both protecting the constitutional system and the existing political regime as a complex concept, as well as the protecting life and property of individuals and legal entities.

In whatever way Russian police system financed, it does not eliminate the problem of quality assessment of the work of the police. Reliable employee’s evaluation system should, on the one hand, have a direct and positive impact on their motivation, and on the other - to leave the opportunity to correct this behavior through incentives. It is essential that the evaluation system allows evaluation of the progress in achieving the objectives of the police. When trying to introduce the practice of police-public cooperation mechanisms someone should take into account that the government and civil society are the different types of institutional actors whose interests do not completely overlap.

As the results of sociological surveys, although to date in Russia has developed an understanding of the need to unite the efforts of civil society and the police, "public-private partnership" in this area is just beginning to take shape. Its level and content, on the one hand, characterize the current state of the governance, including the police as on the governmental actor, and on the other hand – it is a measure of the maturity of civil society, the degree of development of political and legal culture, and citizen participation.

It should be noted that as the experience of countries where there was already a highly developed co-operation of police and the public, to the development of such a partnership always act opposite forces: the desire of public to control the government (including the police) and the desire of the authorities to avoid such control. As a result, for the countries in transformation, including Russia, the special feature of democratic reforms in the police is that this kind of situation can be dangerous because of possible abuse of the police their authority since the democratization here is not the product of a historically long established traditions.

In Russia, on the one hand, the process of legislative change is developing in the direction of the widening of police-public cooperation, but on the other hand, in this area there are serious obstacles for the police accountability to society.

One such problem is the attitude of the police towards the idea of the development of partnerships with the public. The answers of the surveyed police officers in Russia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Kazakhstan show that those who believe that the establishment of such an interaction is not necessary, the overwhelming minority, less than 3%. However, those who have given a definite answer "yes" to this question in Russia is noticeably smaller than in other countries: 49% versus 74%. In Russia, 44% said "more likely than not" against less than a half in the other three countries. In other words, Russia's police community is not homogeneous on the need to forge stronger partnerships with the society. This means that no formal decision from the top commanders of requiring police to develop such cooperation, most likely, will not have success.

Nevertheless, this heterogeneity of the Russian police community provides the opportunity to develop such cooperation where there is a willingness to do police units in the form of the corresponding experiment. During this experiment can be tested existing proposals without significant risk, which arises in the course of large-scale changes.

Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

An agreement was reached with the leadership of Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Vologda region on the participation of members of the Project in the conduct of the experiment on development of the police-public cooperation at the level of police precinct.

Project data is also used in the teaching of courses in the HSE and the University of Toronto, as well as in writing graduate papers. 


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