The form of policing that the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is expected to develop has various ingredients. It is founded on the slippery terms 'security', 'state-building' and 'capacity-building' used by officials from intergovernmental organisations (INGOs), such as the UN and the EU, and other donors, including the UK. Academic commentators then refine these terms into notions such as 'traditional' or 'new' security in 'plural', 'twilight' or 'hybrid' states. 1 In addition, the form of policing to be developed by the FGS is expected to adhere to liberal values and ideals such as community, legitimacy, partnership, service, resilience and human security. 2 At the same time, it is required to address urgent challenges, such as rapid urbanisation, population growth, demographic change and violent extremism. 3 Yet, regardless of their functional or political focus, most such high-level discussions about security in Mogadishu emphasise the potentially critical role played by police forces in the reconstructive efforts to facilitate stability, security and, ultimately, development. 4 Whether this assessment is shared by Mogadishu's inhabitants is, however, questionable. Donors assume that the city's security officers, politicians, businessmen and residents wish to see the emergence of a functioning police force; but this may not be the case. In practice, little is known about the social and economic realities of Somali policing provision, and 7who benefits from the currently fragmented approach. This situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future: lack of security prevents researchers from conducting ethnographically informed fieldwork that might help to fill the knowledge gap, while the Somali 'cultural advisers' (often former diaspora) working for international organisations may pursue their own agenda.