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September 26, 2017

101 things you wanted to know about police but were too afraid to ask

Riot police officers in Mombasa. Phot/ELKANA JACOB
Riot police officers in Mombasa. Phot/ELKANA JACOB

A report by former constitutional review chair Yash Ghai details 101 things Kenyans have never asked police, probably out of fear.

Ghai says beliefs about police officers have strained the relationship between citizens and members of the police service.

He points out that public opinion polls put police at the top of the list of the most corrupt state institutions.

"Police are regarded as extremely corrupt, especially in extracting money from the less well-off," he says in the preface of the published report.

"The uniformed men and women are however viewed by the public as suppressing them in order to promote the interests of the rich and the powerful."

Ghai says the report is meant to streamline the relationship citizens have with police.

He raises questions on whether the public knows policing is a full-time job and that officers should generally not be involved in trade or business outside of the occupation.

"If any officer wishes to be involved in any trade or business they must get permission from the National Police Service only if there is no conflict of interest," he notes.

Ghai asks whether citizens know the Interior Cabinet Secretary and Director of Public Prosecution can give policing directions to the Inspector General.

"It is only the IG who has independent command over the police. The two however can direct the IG about policy matters but not about particular offenses or criminals," he says.

The report attempts to retrace the relationship between police and the public from the colonisation period.

"...when the primary purpose of the police was to suppress Africans in the interests of the colonial power and European settlers," Ghai states.

He noted the the treatment continued after independence since those in authority still believed the main purpose of police was to protect the interests of those who controlled the state.

"There was indeed little accountability of the police for their conduct. The 2010 constitution however had a fundamental change in the structure and functions of the police," the report says in part.

"They are no longer under the absolute authority of the government, their independence being a fundamental constitutional principle" Ghai said.

These are some of the 101 things you did not know about police Dos and Don'ts

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