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What Makes Police Reform and Police Reform Movements Successful?

Hosted by LSE IDEAS and the Institute for Global City Policing, UCL, with support from the Urban Violence Research Network

Online public event


Jyoti Belur

Associate Professor, University College London

Matthew Light

Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto

Cathy Lisa Schneider

Professor at the School of International Service at American University.

Ziyanda Stuurman

Author, Project Leader at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

Dr Andrea Varsori

Assistant Professor (Criminology) at the University of Huddersfield


Professor Chris Alden

Director of LSE IDEAS

2020 saw mass protests against police violence in the US, Colombia, Nigeria and Indonesia, amongst other contexts. But when considering what to do about it, those interested in reform are confronted with a weak evidence-base on effective measures to reduce police violence. This leaves a prominent and unanswered question – how do you actually reform the police?

In this webinar, Matthew Light brings a comparative-politics perspective, looking at the broader factors which impact reform. Jyoti Belur speaks about the challenges and barriers to police reform in India. Cathy Lisa Schneider discusses the role of social movements such as the Black Lives Matter in police reform in the US. Ziyanda Stuurman presents her perspectives based on her research on policing in Brazil and South Africa.

This series seeks to bring together researchers, policymakers, donors and activists to ask what determines successful police reform and how can we best support it? It features scholars and practitioners who have worked on police reform in the West and the Global South to examine what lessons can be drawn from Western cases but also how can lessons from the Global South can inform police reform in the West.

Meet the speakers

Jyoti Belur is Associate Professor at University College London.

Matthew Light is Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto.

Cathy Lisa Schneider is Professor at the School of International Service at American University.

Ziyanda Stuurman is Author and Project Leader at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Meet the discussant

Andrea Varsori is an Assistant Professor (Criminology) at the University of Huddersfield. He is also Co-coordinator for the Urban Violence Research Network. Previously, he completed his doctoral research from the Department of War Studies, King's College London, where he studied criminal and paramilitary groups in urban Brazil

Meet the chair

Chris Alden is Director of LSE IDEAS and Professor of International Relations at LSE.

The first seminar, run by the Urban Violence Research Network, took a broad perspective to examine police reform in the Global South, looking at why police use excessive force, what works to prevent it, the importance of local context, and how policymakers and scholars can better account for it. Kieran Mitton introduced the topic and Zoha Waseem, Ignacio Cano, Erica Marat and Liam O’Shea (as a discussant) considered the challenges and promises of police reform in different contexts across the Global South, drawing on their research in South America, Latin America, and Central Asia.

The remaining seminars examine individual elements of police reform in more detail. Seminar 2 on Friday 16 April asks "How are Police Organisations Actually Reformed?", Seminar 3 asks "What Makes Police Reform and Police Reforms Movements Successful?" and Seminar 4 on Friday 4 June asks "How Can Donors Best Support Police Reform in Non-Western Contexts?".

The series is being co-organised with Dr Zoha Waseem from the Institute for Global City Policing, University College London, with support from the Urban Violence Research Network.


We aim to make all of our events available as a podcast subject to receiving permission from the speaker/s to do this, and subject to no technical problems with the recording of the event. Podcasts and videos of past LSE IDEAS events can be found online.

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This event will be streamed live on Facebook


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