Police Scotland training Malawi officers to deal with crime

Scottish police officers are being drafted in to train colleagues almost 6,000 miles away in Malawi who are struggling to cope with a surge in violent crimes.

Police Scotland officers will train police recruits in Malawi. Picture: John Devlin

Police Scotland will send up to 10 officers annually over the next three years to tackle gender violence and improve child protection in the east African country.

The officers will mentor Malawian police in 10 areas in the south of the country -which is the area worst hit by flooding and food insecurity.

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Women and children in these areas are said to be more vulnerable to abuse from men who demand sex in return for food, shelter or other vital supplies.

The Scottish Government will provide £660,000 for the three-year project to 2019 as part of its long-term response to the current food insecurity crisis in Malawi.

According to recent assessments by the Malawian government, problems caused by poverty, disasters, displacements and lack of livelihoods have led to an increase in gender violence.

It claims sex-for-food cases have been widely reported, with some women and girls abused in exchange for passage to safer zones by local water transport owners during floods.

Community organisations established to deal with the crisis have reportedly turned out to be exploitative.

There are also claims the situation is having a direct impact on HIV transmission rates.

International Development Minister Alasdair Allan said: “In the last couple of years Malawians have endured the worst flooding the country has seen for more than half a century.

“Many people have died, communities have been displaced, families separated and crops washed away.

“In the midst of a major food insecurity crisis, women and children have found themselves vulnerable to abuse from those keen to exploit their need for food and shelter, and incidences of violence against women and children have risen.

“The Scottish Government and Police Scotland are determined to do all we can to help.”

The project will involve police officers from across Scotland spending between two and four weeks in Malawi, with the timescales being staggered.

Superintendent Shaun McKillop, who leads Police Scotland’s international development unit, said the project will help to strengthen officers’ resilience.

He said: “This project builds on the training and support we have provided to the Malawi Police Service over a number of years and will help to make a real difference to communities, particularly women and children.

“It will strengthen our officers’ resilience and improve their understanding of the challenges and difficulties faced by others.

“Police Scotland, and its legacy forces, is viewed as a worldwide exemplar of law enforcement training and has been providing international assistance and police training since 1993.

“All the training we do supports both the UK and Scottish Government international development policies and objectives, contributes to tackling international crime at source and tackles human rights abuse, while at the same time promoting equality and diversity.”