British Council Justice Sector Development programme - man and woman working as legal aids in Sierra Leone

Aubrey Wade

Clients Department for International Development (DFID)
Value £27 million
2005 to 2011
Country Sierra Leone

Through the Justice Sector Development Programme our project team supported the development of an effective, accountable and equitable justice sector in Sierra Leone, capable of serving everyone in society, particularly the poor and marginalised. 

Sustainable change

Using an integrated, sector-wide approach, involving the police, judiciary, legal sector, courts, prisons, customary justice systems and civil society organisations, we delivered sustainable change through capacity building, training and organisational development.

Sector-wide reform

A Justice Sector Co-ordination Office was established and now oversees all levels of reform in the Sierra Leone justice sector through a long-term, sector-wide justice sector reform strategy and investment plan. 

This has led to an annual percentage increase in budgetary support from the government, donors and international agencies.

Police service

Training was delivered to over 80 per cent of senior and middle managers in the police force, leading to a service more geared towards community policing and solving crime. 

Family Support Units

A total of 15 new Family Support Units were established and the whole network of units was strengthened, increasing support for victims of sexual and gender-based crimes. 

Community mediation

A team of 300 volunteers was trained in community mediation and they satisfactorily solved over 2,300 cases in less than a year. 

Legal aid

A pilot national legal aid scheme was established. It handled over 3,000 cases in one year, with an average of 144 cases being diverted away from the courts each month.

Civil society and justice

A network of non-governmental organisations was developed, with representation at a national level, linking over 100 organisations actively involved in providing community services. 


A strategic plan was developed and the investigative and case management capacity of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was enhanced. As a result, 238 cases were investigated by the ACC in 2010 (compared with just 32 in 2008) and 54 cases were prosecuted between 2008 and 2010. 


‘The inclusion of human rights training has changed the perception of the officers and the way they discharge their duties.’

Mohamed M Sannoh, Chief Inspector of Chiefdom Police in Moyamba District, Sierra Leone