IPOA proposes raft of reforms in police service

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023 05:19 | By
Commissioner of Police Edward Achola (left) explains a point to the chairman of National Task Force on Improvement of terms and conditions of service for Kenya Police Service and Kenya Prison Service David Maraga (centre) and his deputy Caroline Kariuki (right). PD/Kenna CLAUDE

Police officers should be paid extraneous and overtime allowances and their house allowances should be commensurate to the current rent rates especially in urban areas, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has said.

The remuneration structure of service should also be reviewed in line with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) guidelines to ensure that officers are fairly compensated for the duties and responsibilities.

In its presentation to the National Taskforce on the improvement of terms and condition of police and prison officers, IPOA has also noted that the previous medical schemes were not comprehensive to cover critical health issues such as mental health.

IPOA told the panel chaired by former Chief Justice David Maraga: “Ensure the Police Medical Insurance Scheme at all times covers mental health illnesses and conditions including rehabilitation of serving officers.”

 It further recommended the establishment of schemes to cater for loss of life or injuries in the line of duty, terminal illness including mental health illness and possible legal framework to cater for officers’ dependents.

The authority also recommended that officers in field camps should be facilitated with quality tents, and that mortgage facilities be made available through the affordable housing project.

Delayed response

Additionally, the government should build houses in police stations and in other government land near police stations.

IPOA said all the police aircraft and equipment and the attendant maintenance budget should be returned to the police from the new outfit, the National Air Support Department (NASD). 

The Airwing is currently dysfunctional due to dispossession of helicopter and fixed aircraft from the NPS to the NASD in September 2020.

IPOA noted that the Marine Police Unit lacks boats and recommended that it should be equipped with the relevant equipment and personnel including speed boats, coxswains, divers and boat engineers.

“Delayed response to incidences by Marine Police has been due to dispossession of 44 police boats by the Kenya Coast Guard Service,” IPO noted, adding that there has been lack of clarity on the role of the unit following the establishment of the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) in October 2018.

It recommended that the geographical jurisdictions of both the police and the KCGS be streamlined.

The Authority also noted that most Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) were unserviceable and there was shortage of mechanics to repair them.

Also, the design of available Closed Troop-Carrying Vehicles (TCVs) impeded disembarking by officers in an event of an emergency and recommended for acquisition of better equipment.

The Maraga team has also been told that the ongoing digitisation of the Occurrence Book (OB) should be extended to all police records and in absence of Digital OB, all pages in the physical OB should be serialised.

To enhance efficiency and accountability, IPOA recommended that the Cash Bail Management should also be digitised.

The service should also maintain a database of former officers including full details of their skills and knowledge, together with suggestions of where they can be absorbed to support community and public service.

There should also be a formal welfare association and post service medical insurance for such officers.

IPOA has proposed that its mandate be expanded to cover Prisons, Forestry and Kenya Wildlife services, and Coast Guard in order to professionalise them through oversight.

Currently, the IPOA’s mandate is specific to the police and may only extend to the prisons officers in the event that they are discharging policing duties.

In its recommendations, the Authority says the DCI Forensic Laboratory should be more independent, work closely with other agencies within the criminal justice system, should be expanded, and the government should categorise and rank the laboratory as a scientific institution.

Unlawful orders

It noted that community policing was dysfunctional in some areas and recommended an assessment of the legal and administrative framework to deal with challenges like inadequate protection of witnesses, conflict over mandate and abuse by politicians.

To decongest police facilities, the immigration department should establish their holding facilities to detain immigrants awaiting deportation.

To strengthen oversight, IPOA recommends that the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) be granted financial and administrative autonomy.

And to deal with lack of culpability and accountability of police commanders arising from issuance of unlawful orders, there is need to incorporate express legal provisions on command responsibility and culpability.

The police regulations around discipline need to be reviewed, to address high levels of indiscipline. Disciplinary proceedings and appeals should be expedited by embracing technology including virtual proceedings.

The oversight body recommended the National Coroners’ Service Act be operationalised and harmonised with both the Police and IPOA Acts on the preservation of evidence.

Biased transfers

It also recommended that policies should be developed to address systemic issues including bribery, impunity and extra-judicial killings.

IPOA noted that poor system of communication and information sharing between police units was hampering the effectiveness of the service adding that lack of accountability leads to corruption and abuse of power.

Regarding the recruitment of officers, IPOA said it should be digitised as it lacks transparency and accountability.

It noted that officers kept making allegations and complaints of biased transfers and deployment, with no clear criterion being followed.

The deployment has been at the discretion of the senior officers without regard to welfare of officers.

It recommended that the issue of deployment and transfer be addressed to ensure that they are only effected according to set guidelines and procedure and that they are not applied as a punishment.

The officers should be given ample time to report to the new stations after a transfer and their transfer allowances be paid in advance, IPOA said.

Any officer may apply to be transferred to or near their home sub-county, in order for such officer to prepare adequately for retirement provided that such officer has attained the age of 50.

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