The Inspector General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola has expressed concern over increased court cases against the law and order enforcement body over the years.
Ochola said something needs to be done to ensure this trend changes or else the force will chock on the huge bill.
“Although it is difficult to measure precisely the nature and extent of victim actions against Police or its administrators, there are substantial indications that civil litigation against the force and the subsequent effect to its personnel have increased significantly,”Ochola said on Thursday.
The police chief was opening a workshop on understanding civil litigation for senior police commanders at the Police headquarters in Naguru on Thursday.
Ochola said the workshop has come at a time when suits have increased against the force and that a number of them have been lost and Police has to compensate individuals.
“The institutional consequences of civil suits include financial costs and bad publicity even if the suits are successfully defended. Civil litigation can also have consequences for the individual officers involved, including financial costs, psychological stress, and reluctance to perform policing tasks that carry a high risk for civil liability,” he said.
The police chief explained that incidents that have led to increase in law suits against the force include misuse of firearms, unlawful arrests, search, poor responses to complaints and illegal detentions among others that he said have painted a bad picture for the force.
According to the police Director in charge of Human Rights and Legal Services, Erasmus Twaruhukwa, civil suits against government arising out of police actions have increased and this, he said is arising out of indiscipline by officers.
“The cases have increased because either Police is becoming more unprofessional and undisciplined, or people are becoming more aware of their rights for justice. Whatever the reason, the rate at which police is sued is alarming. This does not only give us a bad name but also leads to an award of monetary damages that we may not be able to pay,”Twaruhukwa said.
The Police director in charge of legal services however noted that majority of the cases are avoidable, noting that police officers ought to be educated on what to do.
“There are cases arising out of detention beyond 48 hours and those arising out of torture allegations. The officers need to avoid such mistakes leading to such law suits.”
The Inspector General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola said whereas the force has put in place several policies and procedures to be followed by officers more is still needed.
“The force has management also put in place mechanisms that discipline, demote, terminate the employment of and, in some cases, file criminal charges against individual police officers whose conduct does not rise to the performance level expected. However, more needs to be done especially at the operational level,” he said.
He urged commanders to speak to their subordinates on applying policies, procedures and practices that are acceptable within the professional and constitutional limits.
“At the institutional level, we have also embarked on in-service refresher training for our Police officers especially for what we can loosely term to be “perishable skills”— skills that can diminish without training— and deemed absolutely necessary and, when neglected, can lead to lawsuits.”