Digitalization of the Occurrence Book
Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai will have access to data from all police stations at the click of the mouse after launching the digital Occurrence Book at Kasarani Police Station on November 22, 2019.
Will Digitalization of the Occurrence Book at the Police Station Level enhance Service Delivery and increase Police Accountability? 1.0 Introduction Digitalization of the Occurrence Book is one of the major steps towards police reforms. The journey to digitalise the police operations began on January 7, 2019 when the National Police Service launched the Human Capital Information Management System at Kilifi sub-county headquarters at an event graced by our Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Fred Matiang’i. On 22nd November 2019, the first digital Occurrence Book (OB) was piloted at the Kasarani Police Station in Nairobi and the first entry made, marking a departure from manual to digital entries and with that, ushering in the new era of digitised police records. The operationalisation of the digital occurrence book is seen as a great landmark in the history of the National Police Service and also a great milestone towards the journey of police reforms. On 3rd November 2020, The Cabinet Secretary for Interior Dr. Fred Matiangi officially launched the digital Occurrence Book with the view of increasing the level of police accountabilities which for a very long time have been marred with increased cases of corruption. This digitalization will be piloted in Nairobi county before it is rolled out nationally. The Cabinet Secretary made it clear during the launch that in the next 18 months (1 and a half years), all police officers must have been trained to adapt to the new platform. 2.0 Corruption at the Police Station Level The Police Stations are always the first point of recording statement and initially Kenyans reporting cases were filled with hope that their cases will be expedited and justice found. However, this hope has been slowly dwindling down and majority of Kenyans having no faith with the police and some even shy away from reporting cases with the fear that nothing much will be done. There are instances where the files have disappeared and the only way they re-appear is when bribe is given, the disappearing of files has always been seen as a deliberate act by the police at the station level to swindle money from the people they are supposed to help. Phrases like nunulia wazee chai ili file ipatikane will be a thing of the past. Sometimes when files disappear, the person who brought the case is forced to part with some money for the case to be recorded again. In some cases, the police have requested money from complainants claiming that it’s for fueling the police vehicle at the station to aid them go and investigate on the matter which was recorded. In some cases, people who have financial influence over the police beat the system by bribing the police officers at the station level to tamper with the files, money has always played a key role to determine which cases at the station level will proceed to the court. This digitalization of the OB must try to cure the corruption cases which for a very long time has been associated with the analogue entry or files which has been rampant at the station levels. Will this digitalization of the occurrence Book be the bullet which will help to cure the cancer of corruption which has been experienced at the police station level for a long time? 3.0 Improved Service Delivery Improvement of any system in a public institution must always be geared towards efficiency and improved service delivery to the public, digitalization of the police Occurrence Book must be geared towards that direction. Well documented entries or cases at the police station level which is the initial stage of reporting spurs hope and confidence in the eye of the public and that enhances service delivery. Police operations begin at the Report Office, where initial reports are made by members of the public. This initial report is the point from which every subsequent police action must be initiated. Also, when the officers who always tampers with such cases knows that the information keyed into the system is seen by the senior officers and can be traced, they will not tamper with them, this equally enhances service delivery. With the digitisation of the Occurrence Book, the issue of loss of pages or disappearance of entire occurrence books with the aim of delaying or denying one justice completely will be a thing of the past, as an entry in the Digital Occurrence Book will be a permanent record. This will increase public confidence and therefore improves service delivery. 4.0 Foreseeable Challenges Some police station at the local villages do not have proper infrastructural development, we feel that the necessary agencies should first make sure that there is proper infrastructure at the police stations levels across the country. There are areas in this country where police stations at the villages are not connected to the National grid (electricity supply). This should equally be a priority. The police for a very long time have used the OB to record cases and some police might desire that the status quo remain. This must not be the case because the world in s dynamic space where thing keep on changing and we must also keep on changing to adapt. CS Matiangi during the launch stated that any police officer resisting such a move should provide enough reasons so that they are relieved from the service. The reforms might stagnate if there is no goodwill by the stakeholders who feel that this change will interfere with their illegal source of income, on the other hand failure to allocate enough resources to this noble course, will mean that it stalls and if that happens, this will become another public relations gimmick. Our Take
- What is needed for this reform to be realized is a complete shift of police mindset from the status quo which allows things to be done the same way over and over again and some police officers benefiting from the same to a new norm which enhances accountability, efficiency and improved service delivery.
- Through launching of such an ambitious project of digitalizing OB, the National Police Service must keep their eyes on the ball especially on what they are trying to cure using this reform which includes corruption at the police station level, police accountability and the status quo which has made some police officer believe that they can only be in one station because of the unearned benefits they get.
- Connecting the stations without electricity to the grid or installing solar systems panels and improving the infrastructural development at the station levels requires allocations. Allocations towards achieving this reform will make it successful.
- The police must begin to see the public as human beings with fundamental rights which are protected by the Constitution which needs to be respected but not as a money minting machines. This mindset has to change for this reform to be realized.
- Systems are prone to manipulations by the people, equally, systems are as good as the people operating them, this means that the police officers must exercise high level integrity while making entries to the digitalized occurrence Book Platforms. The officers must be keen to make sure that correct information is keyed in.
- As we applaud Matiang’i for the measures his ministry has taken in digitising the Police Service, we hasten to remind him that this initiative must be followed through so that it does not end up being merely another public relations exercise. The service has let down Kenyans on many fronts. Let this be a story with a happy ending for the long suffering citizens