Freeze on police recruitment bites

March 1, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 1 – A serious shortage of police officers is being reported across the country, three years after the government ordered a freeze on the recruitment of police officers.

The last time both the regular and Administration Police carried out recruitment was in 2008 soon after a Task Force that recommended tougher measures including a freeze on hiring until reforms are carried out.

The team that was headed by Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley advised the government to freeze employment until a new training curriculum is established to guide trainers who will direct recruits to become better police officers who can make a difference in law enforcement in the country.

Since President Mwai Kibaki pledged to undertake all the recommendations reached by the Ransley team, no recruitment has ever been undertaken since then, causing lack of police officers in the country.

"We used to have up to 3,000 or more recruits coming out of college every year, and we still experienced a shortage at that time, now you can imagine what is happening when the freeze is being implemented. We have not had a single recruitment since 2008. That is quite a long time," a senior police officer at Vigilance House told Capital News.

With two recruitments carried out by the Administration Police and the Kenya police annually, the country used to get up to 6,000 or more new recruits joining the forces every year.

With the three-year recruitment freeze, it means the force is short of some 18,000 police officers.

Another senior police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the high turnover of police officers who resign to join private organizations is another major factor that has been affecting the two forces even long before the recruitment freeze was announced.

Every year, at least 500 police officers resign to join private or international organizations while a similar number is sacked or retired on medical grounds, causing a serious shortage of security personnel in the country, according to police officers privy to the records at the Personnel department at Vigilance House Administrative department.

"Apart from the resignations, there are other hazards which affect police officers including death and sickness and this significantly impacts negatively on the police population," another officer said.

As a result of this and other effects the two security agencies are facing due to the recruitment freeze, the government has on more than three occasions since last year tried to carry out recruitment but the exercise aborted due to what insiders attributed to lack of release of funds from the Treasury.

In August last year, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Security and Provincial Administration Francis Kimemia announced that plans had been finalized to carry out the recruitment but it did not take place. No official explanation was given at the time.

Mr Kimemia has now confirmed that the exercise is due to be carried out in the course of this month under a new training curriculum which has been formulated by the Police Reforms Implementation Committee.

The exercise that will be carried out by both the police and Administration Police departments targets some 7,000 recruits who will undergo rigorous training at the Kenya Police College in Kiganjo, the Administration Police Training College in Embakasi and at the General Service Training College in Embakasi.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe has also confirmed the exercise will be undertaken to bridge the gap that has been caused by the three year moratorium that started in 2008.

"Plans are being finalised to have a major recruitment exercise countrywide," Mr Kiraithe said.

Mr Kiraithe did not however, reveal more details of the upcoming recruitment exercises which, he said, will be carried out competitively.

The exercise is largely seen as a rush to ensure there are enough police officers to provide security during next year\’s General Elections.

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