COVID-19 SURGE

Nairobi police boss protests against ‘turning stations into Covid-19 suspects' remand’

Regional commander says police stations are overstretched

In Summary

• The police boss said there was a disconnect among the Kenya Prison Service, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Health in the handling of Covid-19 suspects in police custody.

• He said prisons have always insisted they will only admit suspects after they are returned to police custody and confirmed to be negative of the virus.

 

Nairobi regional police commander Philip Ndolo talking to the Star in his office yesterday.
RAISING CONCERN: Nairobi regional police commander Philip Ndolo talking to the Star in his office yesterday.
Image: GEORGE OWITI

More than 20 suspects are isolated in various police stations in Nairobi after testing positive for Covid-19.

This has raised concern, with Nairobi regional police commander Philip Ndolo saying they have been forced to improvise separate cells to secure uninfected suspects and prevent the spread of the disease.

Ndolo said the patients were isolated in police custody after attempts to quarantine them in government isolation centres failed.

 

“We have suspects who have turned positive of coronavirus in our cells. They should be quarantined in public facilities for treatment,” Ndolo told the Star in his office on Tuesday.

The police boss said there was a disconnect among the Kenya Prison Service, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Health in the handling of Covid-19 suspects in police custody.

This has led to the overstretching of the 17 police divisions in the city. A total of 650 suspects were arrested in the city for various offences last weekend.

“The MoH has maintained that its facilities are full, hence cannot accommodate suspects in police custody who have tested positive of coronavirus. Prisons have also restricted admission of suspects after their arraignment, while the courts, being left with no options continue to direct the suspects for remand in police stations,” Ndolo said.

He said prisons have always insisted they will only admit suspects after they are returned to police custody and confirmed to be negative of the virus. This is a  challenge to the National Police Service since police do not test suspects for Covid-19.

Ndolo said the Health ministry should provide alternative isolation centres for Covid-19 suspects. He promised security to the centres.

The officer said all the stakeholders should meet and come up with a solution to the problem.

 

“The National Police Service, Judiciary, Kenya Prisons Service and MoH should hold a discussion for solution. The Covid-19 curve isn’t flattening and police stations are vulnerable to infections,” he said.

Ndolo said petty offenders were released on bail or free bond to ease police cells as  social distancing enforcement.

Capital offenders are held in police cells before arraignment. 

Ndolo said the closure of Makadara Law Courts had affected operations of five police divisions in the city.

“Arrangements have been made for suspects in the affected police stations to be arraigned in Kibera, Milimani and Kiambu.”

This, he said, is tricky since some suspects end up in remand for failure to raise bail of as little as Sh200.

 

- mwaniki fm