The majority of the police criminal investigations that the Kenyan police force carry out are shoddy and unable to ensure convictions, according to an article published in the Daily Nation (13th of September) based on a new report by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).
BASELINE SURVEY ON POLICING STANDARDS
The Baseline Survey on Policing Standards and Gaps in Kenya painted a picture of a tainted police force riddled with incompetent and corrupt officers who “falsify evidence, threaten the public with unjustifiable imprisonment and took bribes”.
The researchers noted that a large number of robbery-with-violence cases missed the crucial documents needed by the court and that in some of the files the police hardly established that the accused was armed, or even if there was property recovered that belonged to the complainant.
64 PER CENT OF CASES MISS ‘MINIMUM EVIDENTIARY THRESHOLD’
Among the files studied by IPOAs investigators in the Nairobi area included files from Kamukunji, Huruma, Kilimani and Muthaiga police stations. “Overall 64 per cent of the cases reviewed never met the minimum evidentiary threshold to charge a person with an offence. This threshold is much lower than the beyond reasonable doubt” read part of the report.
“Preparation to commit a felony” cases, another offence under Kenyan laws, divulged that 76 per cent of the cases presented by detectives fell below the acceptable standards, with only in 73 cases out of 203 where police gathered enough evidence. And still, even if the files went to court, only a quarter of the cases attracted convictions. “This means that only one in every four cases ends up in a conviction. This reveals poor quality of investigation for police to determine which cases are ripe for prosecution”, said the report.
QUALITY OF INVESTIGATIONS POOR
IPOAs chairman, Mr. Macharia Njeru, told the Daily Nation that the quality of the investigations at police stations was very poor. He added that this form of unprofessionalism cost the society greatly, a fact especially exhibited by many people preferring not to report cases because they assume that no action would be taken while others fear retaliation.
Inspector General David Kimaiyo
KIMAIYO – “LACK OF COMMUNICATIONS”
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, who attended the launch of the report, attributed a miscommunication between the complainants and the detectives, leading to misunderstanding about cases not being taken to court. “What could be lacking is the communication between the detectives and complainant and so the latter does not understand a case cannot be taken to court without enough evidence,” he said.
He also attributed this poor state of affairs to the, low salaries that did not match up to the work that the police did.
“Typically, police make an arrest the same day a crime is reported and three days before they formally open investigations. This suggests that police act quickly to secure arrests and may not have time to ensure there was sufficient evidence,” the report reads.
The report further explained why most investigations are shoddy and are often referred back by prosecutors, including the poor quality of investigations, the failure to gather sufficient evidence, and the failure to provide the courts with vital documentation necessary for a prosecution.
EFFECTIVE ACTION NEEDED
The Kenya Forum wonders how many more of this sort of report is required before effective action is taken to improve the level of competency in the Kenya Police Force and to eradicate rampant misconduct.
Time and again senior police officers, politicians and commentators refer to “a few rotten apples” when in reality Kenyans know from their day-to-day experiences that the country’s police service is irredeemably corrupt and incompetent. It’s not a case of “a few rotten apples”, the barrel is full of them.
There are only three reasons why a senior police officer could say that the Kenya Police Force is not wholly corrupt and incompetent: first that they do not know, in which case they are ignorant and incompetent and should be fired; second, they do know but have done and will do nothing about it, in which case they should be fired; and third, that they do know and are part of the corrupt and incompetent system – in which case they should be fired.
Without radical reform of the Kenya police our country’s laws and new constitution are all but worthless, our guaranteed rights and freedoms are nothing of the sort, and progress towards a prosperous, free and fair society will be forever impeded.