Public Administration News
||Kenya: Police Photo IDs to Boost Public’s Trust
||Saturday, November 27, 2010
Electronic and Mobile Government, Citizen Engagement, Internet Governance
||Nov 29, 2010
A new system that will see all police officers required to wear
photo IDs on their uniforms is set to improve levels of accountability
in dealings between the police and citizens.
is part of the broader police reforms package that was a key element of
the Agenda Four set of changes endorsed by the political leadership
following the 2007/8 post-election crisis.
Human rights campaigners have long lobbied for photo IDs for police officers.
the leadership of Maina Kiai, the Kenya National Commission on Human
Rights petitioned the police force leadership to endorse the idea in
2004, an initiative that had little success.
“This is a vital step forward in efforts to tackle impunity,” said Mr Khelef Khalifa, a former commissioner of the KNCHR.
the picture, name and number of every police officer displayed on their
uniforms helps boost trust between the police and citizens, weeds out
the elements that pose as policemen and creates greater accountability
levels in the force.”
The police force regularly tops
polls of the institutions Kenyans trust the least. A long-standing
culture of corruption among officers and cases of brutality against
citizens has eroded citizen trust in one of the key institutions in the
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the
force welcomed the photo ID initiative, but said there was a need for a
more holistic approach to reform efforts.
“We have to
be careful how we manage the process of change. We have to involve the
officers. The constable on the beat will not change and cannot change
unless there is proactive engagement to help them appreciate the need
for change,” he said.
Mr Kiraithe said the reform package should include measures that address the standard of living of officers to improve morale.
“At present, you have police lines that are comparable to slums with no water supply and insufficient space.
are many DCIO (Divisional Criminal Investigating Officers) without
operational vehicles in Nairobi. These are things that must be addressed
as part of efforts to prepare the human resource base for change,” Mr
police reforms are likely to be constrained by lack of resources. The
police estimate the entire reform package will cost about Sh81 billion, a
figure well in excess of the annual budgetary allocation for the force.
Also, the measure to have the police wear photo IDs is expected to be accompanied by a change of officers’ uniforms.
new uniforms will be designed to create room for a photo ID to be
attached to the lapel on the left and for medals to be pinned on the
right side of the uniform.
But human rights campaigners
say the leadership of the police force frustrated past efforts to
implement some of the measures being tackled now.
2004, we approached Maj-Gen Hussein Ali and received sufficient donor
support to have all the police officers kitted with uniforms that have
photo ID,” said Mr Khalifa.
“Everything was ready and
all that was needed was a letter from Maj-Gen Ali saying he backed the
proposal. We went to him with Mr Kiai and he said the change was not a
Mr Kiraithe acknowledged that Mr Ali had rejected the initiative
but said his objections were based on his feeling that reform measures
in the police force should be backed by domestic resources because donor
funds can be fickle.
Whatever the motivation for the
failure to back the reform efforts, it appears the current pro-reform
mood will force the police force to adopt the new measures, which will
make it easier for aggrieved citizens to take their cases to the Police
Oversight Board when they have complaints against particular police