Authorities in Serere district have expressed concern over the increased cases of defilement in the sub-region.
Speaking during a community policing tour by the Police’s community policing department in Teso sub-region, Samuel Kaheesi, the officer in charge of Serere Police station said the trend is worrying
“The cases of defilement have gone up in the area. We receive at least three defilement cases at police every week. This is in addition to others that never reach police and solved among families,”Kaheesi said.
The police chief said that it is also appalling that in some cases LCs are involved in handling the cases, despite being criminal in nature and can only be reported to police for suspects to be taken to court for the law to take its course.
However, speaking to the local leaders, ACP Anatoli Muleterwa, the head of the Community Policing Department in Police said there is need to build a strong LC system to help in crime prevention.
“We have realised that the local council leaders have a lot of power for which we would like to tap into. For example, they are mandated by the Local Council Act to solve incidents of social disharmony, issues related to misunderstandings between members of the community, communication and coordination among them . Some of the issues that come to police are out of ignorance and therefore, coming to the ground is one way of empowering the LCs to recognise that they have the power to cause this social harmony,” Muleterwa said.
Muleterwa warned that if these minor cares are not handled decisively by the LC system, they have the ability to escalate into criminal offences.
He mentioned offences like common assaults and debts among others can be ably solved by the LCs.
“Once we let some of these cases to grow, they aggravate into criminal cases leading to assault, murder and malicious damage etc. In empowering local leaders, we shall be curtailing the level of complaints that come to police because the community would have realised where the power of LC lies.
The head of the Community Policing Department in Police however warned that it is not right for LCs to handle serious crimes like murder, defilement and rape as had been reported by authorities.
He insisted these can only be reported to police to carry out investigations and later forwarded to the DPP for suspects to be tried in court.
According to Muleterwa, by empowering the LC system, it will be easy to prevent crime but warned police officers against disrespecting local leaders.
“Have total respect in as far as LCs are concerned. Be humble and be good listeners to the LCs and the community in general. This will help improve our working relationship with the community,” he said.
“Identify problems that affect the community than waiting for them. Be service oriented. That is professional and discipline.”
He noted that the Police’s Community Policing Department has adopted the Local Council system as one of the ways of fighting crime.