Dr Faisal Umar

Securing urban space: an ethnography of non-state policing in low-income neighbourhoods of a Nigerian city

Funding period: 1 June 2021 – 30 November 2021
Type of funding: International Fellowship

Dr Faisal Umar is a Lecturer in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and a member of the Centre for Spatial Information Science at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria. He completed his PhD at University College London in 2017, and was awarded the prestigious Roger Tomlinson Prize for his thesis on the spatiality of urban crime in the settings of sub-Saharan Africa.

His current research interest has focused on the socio-spatial dimensions of urban crime and the pluralization of security provisioning in cities of sub-Saharan Africa. He was recently a Co-Investigator in a DfID/ESRC funded research project that explored the interlinkages of crime, livelihoods and urban poverty in Nigeria (FCLP). He has presented papers – often related to urban crime – in over 15 international conferences, and the output of his research has been published as peer-reviewed articles, including in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Journal of Applied Geography and the Oxford Handbook of Environmental Criminology.

As a USF International Fellow, Dr Umar will spend six months working with Professor Rivke Jaffe in the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development, and the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Profile at ResearchGate | Twitter: @faisalKaita | Email: fumar@abu.edu.ng

As part of his Fellowship, Dr Umar also received a USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award in November 2021 (see below).

USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award: Securing Urban Space: An Exploration of Community Crime Prevention & Control Strategies in Low-income Neighbourhoods

Fear of crime (i.e., domestic theft and burglary) and the risk of victimization are part of everyday life in typical cities of the global south. Yet, in Nigeria for instance, crime control and prevention, especially in low-income neighbourhoods where the state delivery of security and justice services remain inadequate, is largely contingent on the collective action of urban dwellers to maintain order in their neighbourhoods, often through community-based non-state security arrangements, and on individual “off-grid urban security” improvisation, where homeowners employ different strategies to reduced their risk of victimization. This project aims to bring together and disseminate key research findings from a 5-year project concern with this complex nature of security provision in a typical second-tier African city, the evolving power dynamics between multiple security providers, and how communities and young offenders from under-resourced neighbourhoods perceive and experience the plurality of actors and practices in the delivery of security and justice services. The ultimate objective is to learn and share practical knowledge with non-academic audience on how urban communities deal with the problem of property crime, including risk-reduction strategies that are believed to be effective, in the absence of fully functional state security structure.

The outcome of every research concerned with crime problem should have implication for both policy making and practice of crime prevention and control. However, given that the issue of crime problem can be very emotive and highly politicized, decision makers would perhaps ignore or systematically downplay the recommendations of academic studies. This project, therefore, has broaden the scope of disseminating practical knowledge to include local citizens and other non-technical audience through a series of audio-visual techniques. The aim is to provide useful crime prevention knowledge to urban communities and also to contribute to local research capacity building in that both academic and security actors could learn from the lived experiences of research participants. All outputs from this project are available on a dedicated website and the aim is to provide access to the public beyond the lifespan of the project. An underlying philosophy of this project is ensuring that all contents are reproducible and placed in the public domain under an open license to allow further sharing and to encourage the wider research community to adopt similar approach.

Specifically, the project deliverables are:

  • Knowledge exchange workshop to share key findings with research participants and other stakeholders, and to record feedbacks.
  • Production of short documentaries to cover the lived experiences of research participants, including narrations from former offenders on how crime targets are selected and what could deter such selection.
  • Production of “picture stories” to display some fascinating images on CPTED that were captured during various stages of fieldwork.