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Police abuse of power still prevalent, says new study

By Zadock Angira
Thursday, November 7th, 2019
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i (left), Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai (centre) and Ipoa chair Anne Makori during the launch of 2019-2024 Strategic plan at the KICC in Nairobi, yesterday. PD/GERALD ITHANA
In summary

Police abuse of power is still prevalent and majority who experience or witness such misconduct do not report to the authorities. 

The study by Strategic Africa for the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) shows that nearly 46 per cent of the people interviewed had been victims of at least one form of abuse of power, a significant increase from 30 per cent at the baseline survey in 2013. 

The Endline Survey on Policing Standards and Gaps in Kenya revealed that abuse of power—an inappropriate conduct and or illegal actions taken by police officers in discharge of their official duties—involves police brutality, dishonesty, fraud, coercion, torture to force confessions, abuse of authority, and sexual coercion and assault. 

Crosshead

This study, which was a follow-up to a baseline conducted in 2013, was conducted to gather evidence on the perceptions of Kenyans about the quality of policing services and the factors and challenges that affect effective and efficient policing in Kenya. 

The study plus the Ipoa’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan were launched yesterday by the authority’s board. The survey was conducted between January and April this year and involved 5900 respondents and about 450 police officers.

The function was attended by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who said the ministry would support Ipoa to professionalise the service. 

The government is as much interested in accountable policing as Ipoa and other civil society actors are. We are available and will not be the excuse for your failure,” the CS said.

The study launched by Matiang’i also assessed the performance of the Ipoa on various parameters, to understand the extent to which the authority and its partners have, or not, addressed policing standards in the country.

The study established that there has been no change in public’s reporting of police misconduct since 2013, and majority who experience or witness police misconduct still do not report these incidences. 

Only 28 per cent of respondents in the 2019 survey, who experienced or witnessed police misconduct reported it, compared to 30 per cent in 2013. 

The likelihood of reporting is higher among rural residents—about a third of respondents in rural areas in 2019 reported police misconduct, compared to 21 per cent among those in urban areas. 

The study further revealed that most of the cases of police misconduct against civilians are reported at police stations, and that over half of the cases did not yield any actionable results. About 50 percent of cases reported to police stations were not investigated or concluded

Of the 773 respondents who reported cases of police brutality, 66.9 percent reported at the police stations, while 14 percent reported to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and only 9.4 per cent reported to Ipoa, while 8.8 per cent reported to KNCHR and 7.8 percent and 6.5 per cent reported to IAU and NPSC, respectively.  According to Ipoa statistics, as at June 2018, the Authority had received 5140 reports of police misconduct for investigation. 

Out of these, 790 investigations had been completed, and 105 cases referred to the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) for prosecution. 

Crosshead

The rest of the cases received had been referred to various institutions for further action, with 769 referred to Internal Affairs Unit, 226 to National Police Service, 335 to police commission, 41 to KNCHR, 613 to Police Station OCS; 229 to DCI; and 649 to other agencies such as EACC, and Commission for Administrative Justice.

Some of the reasons identified for not reporting to the police included fear of victimisation, lack of actionable results from previously reported cases, while some said they did not know where to report.

There has been a slight increase in the proportion of those who were satisfied with the actions taken in reported cases of police misconduct, with 39.4 per cent reported this year as compared to 32.4 per cent in 2013. However, the proportion of those that were very dissatisfied rose from 17 per cent in 2013 to 28 per cent in 2019. 

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