Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Timothy Fadgen


AbstractCult groups are criminal youth gangs in Rivers State and Nigeria that are proscribed by law and engaged in criminal activities. The activities of cult groups are a severe problem confronting the police and communities across Rivers State, Nigeria. This qualitative phenomenological study’s objective was to fill a gap in knowledge by exploring how the police perceived cult groups and the threats they posed to public safety and their decision-making processes to combat cult criminal activities. This study used Lipsky’s street-level bureaucracy theory to explore how police exercise discretion to discharge their duties, considering some organizational constraints. The first research question addressed how police perceive cult groups and the threats they pose to communities in Rivers State, Nigeria. The second resarch question addressed the factors that influence police decision making to combat cult activities in Rivers State, Nigeria. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 20 police officers serving in Rivers State and analyzed using Saldana’s coding system to identify relevant themes. The analysis results revealed that the police view cult groups as criminals, violent, highly organized, and a threat to public safety. Results also indicated that issues of corruption, logistics, lack of equipment, inadequate personnel, lack of community collaboration, and low morale influence police decision making to combat cult activities in Rivers State. Policy and social change implications include the need to ensure that the police have needed resources to combat crime and build a collaborative relationship with all stakeholders to make communities in Rivers State a safer place to live and do business.