Employ technology more to reduce crime

Wednesday March 14 2018

Communication equipment

President Uhuru Kenyatta is shown police communication equipment when he visited Huawei in China. It is important to assess the roles and influence of technology in enhancing relationships between the police and citizens. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By VINCENT GUMBI

Police reforms seem to have gained momentum under the 2010 Constitution, but the practical logic for the initiative can be contextualised under the broader public sector reforms.

Undeniably, the security of a country is crucial: It determines the development of strategies, including its economic, political and social aspects.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights classifies security as a human right.

That makes it important to assess the roles and influence of technology in enhancing relationships between the police and citizens.

Attention to preparedness, engagement with other security agencies and responsibilities with the aid of technology can result in superior outcomes.

PUBLIC, PRIVATE SECURITY

Surprisingly, the undoubtable distinction between the public and private security systems has seen reforms slow down.

The former have, for a long time, relied on poor quality equipment due to lack of diversity and integration of other security agencies, while the latter operate on their own.

As the population increases, crime has intensified, making the security situation wanting.

Also, the response to crime, as well as intelligence gathering and processing capabilities, has not been initiated effectively.

This is because police report data has not migrated from paper records to automated record management systems, making it not easily accessible.

PUBLIC TRUST

In addition, public trust levels should be a priority to the security agencies to make the public free to report crime without fear of victimisation.

A World Bank report shows that the Kenya Police Service received the highest number of complaints in 2011, an increase of 25 per cent during the year.

Given the bribery indices, ineffective dealing with security threats and failure to bring down crime levels, have led to poor service delivery by police.

As the KPS struggles with reforms, allegations, including failure to eradicate crimes such as corruption within its ranks and extra-judicial killings, limited or lack of professionalism, carjacking, burglary, robbery, vandalism and shoplifting, abound.

Started in 2003, the police reforms were aimed at increasing accountability to the public and improving the officers’ professionalism, strengthening operations, preparedness and logistical capacity, the ‘2010 Police Reforms Implementation Commission Report’, says.

BEHIND SCHEDULE

Kenya should lead the way in fighting crime using technology as most Kenyans are tech-savvy.

However, it is worth noting that technological reforms in the police have faced their fair share of challenges and are way behind schedule.

Certainly, the reforms, which are aimed at adopting digital technology to enhance confidence and efficient service regarding citizens’ security, haven’t been felt on the ground.

Technological reforms — including the Internet, computer software, mobile phones and other gadgets — are meant to liberate both citizens and the police. They should enable them to express opinions without negative criticism, mobilise protest and expand their freedom horizon.

Furthermore, cybercrime has become a thorn in the flesh for most African countries, which has taken law enforcers back to the crime prevention drawing board. Our country needs to train more cybercrime experts within its security docket to curb the menace rocking the peace for hardworking Kenyans.

Kenyans must pull in one direction regardless of religious and political affiliation to protect the nation from the jaws of criminals.

Crime could affect our economic progress and drive Vision 2030 into oblivion.

The best way forward is to fully adopt technology in the war against crime.

 

Mr Gumbi, senior officer in Kenya Prisons Service, is a public administration expert. [email protected]