INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The Police Station Visitors Week was organized by Altus Global Alliance together with police and civil society around the world for the first time in 2006. This unique initiative, which is likely to become an annual event, gave civilians an opportunity to visit local police stations and to assess the services provided by the police.
These visits were guided by a single, standardized Visitor’s Kit produced by Altus in 17 languages. The Kit included a scoring system that allowed each of the visitors to rate the police station on 20 questions, producing scores on five categories of service: Community Orientation, Physical Condition, Equal Treatment of the Public, Transparency and Accountability, and Detention Conditions. Using this Kit, the participants in the Police Station Visitors Week were able to place their individual judgments about the quality of service at their own police stations in national, regional and global context.
The Police Station Visitors Week: Purpose
All kinds of people pass through police stations everyday. Spending time there—even just an hour— generates impressions about whether that station is well run and provides good service, but until now, there has been no easy-to-use tool that can immediately capture and interpret these valuable impressions.
To develop such a tool, Altus had to envision a new role for non-governmental organizations in the oversight of police activities. Some previous assessments of policing agencies have resulted in the blaming of individual agencies for systemic problems. Such negative reporting has resulted in a culture of distrust between the police and non-governmental organizations.
However, Altus felt that the strong relationships between member organizations and their local government partners had paved the way for an assessment that would be productive for all involved. The unique capacity of Altus to cooperatively engage both the civil society and the governments in research and reform programs ensured that this project, the Police Station Visitors Week, would focus on sharing good practices, promoting international standards, and building positive relationships between police agencies, NGOs and the community.