The Kasarani Police Station in Nairobi has become the first in the country to use the digital Occurrence Book (OB) after it was launched by Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai early Friday, at exactly 00.00.
The country’s top policeman who was accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) installed the computer equipment at the station’s reception where officers are expected to key-in complaints, statements and details of criminal activities.
“The technology among other benefits ensures that all entries made are a permanent record that cannot be edited, thus guaranteeing transparency and accountability in police operations at the station level,” the National Police Service said.
The use of digital tools will eliminate manipulation of entries in the occurrence books, which some police officers have been notorious for, for personal interests and corruption.
Some OB entries have in the past disappeared, with some officers being blamed for plucking off the leaves.
Mr Mutyambai urged police officers to embrace the change, as it will make entry, referral and retrieval of data faster.
The reports entered, NPS said, will be subject to monitoring by ward, county and regional commanders as well as the Inspector-General and other top police chiefs.
The launch of the technology is part of the government’s ambitious plans to digitise critical services. Earlier, the NPS launched the Kenya Police Service Standing Orders App accessible only by members of the service who have to key in their unique service numbers and their passwords.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i in July officially launched the system, called the Digital Human Resource Information System, which incorporates the administrative procedures, the Occurrence Book (OB) and the Crime Management System.
He said during the launch that all police officers must be conversant with the technology. The new police curriculum was tailored to accommodate the shift to digital, and in line with the National Police Service Act that requires every police officer to keep a record of all complaints and charges referred, the names of all persons arrested, and the offences with which they are charged.
“Change has come, and it must be embraced so that we have a responsible and responsive police service," Dr Matiang'i said.
If embraced, the Inspector-General of Police will have access to data from all police stations at the click of the mouse. The chief policeman will also monitor police performance, conduct, transfers and promotions.
With the launch, the Interior ministry will have to supply computers and the internet to the over 4,200 police stations in the country. Officers who trained under the old police curriculum will also have to undergo courses on how to use the digital system.
Records and Information Management East Africa Ltd CEO Don Victor Simon Gichuki, in a recent article, said the system needs to be managed well.
“In a society where police officers are deemed to be poorly educated, pathetic managers and bloodthirsty, coupled with a general hatred towards the mwananchi, the automated system will fail if the OB is not managed in a better way,” he said.
The government is also integrating the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) with a modern forensic lab to complement the digitisation activities.