« Previous | Main | Next »

How should Africa deal with rogue police officers?

AfricaHYS Team | 12:39 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A week long exercise to purge the Kenyan police of corrupt officers began on Monday.

2,000 senior police officers will be screened in a move the police commissioner Matthew Iteere says is meant  to ''separate the wheat from  the chaff ''.

The move is one of a wide reaching list of recommendations emanating from a commission set up two years ago to come up with measures to reform the police force and rid it of corruption and ineffectiveness.

The Kenya police has repeatedly topped Transparency International's list of corrupt institutions in East Africa.

Across the continent  the police have a reputation for being unfriendly, inefficient and  corrupt. So is purging police forces of certain senior officers the answer?

Can old dogs learn new tricks, or is a new generation of officers needed?
 
Do you think better pay would reduce corruption in the police?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 07 June at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    To understand the problem confronting the police in Africa, it will be better to review the past. Just after the independence, the continent witnessed unprecedented unrest through coups and counter coups, during this period, the police were relegated to the background. The army starved the police of equipment and fund and weakened their ability to fight crime. While the army parade themselves as above the law. A good example of army recklessness is the crisis that rock Badgary in Nigeria recently.
    The army institute corruption which eat deep into the fabric of the society. Civil institutions were decimated, human right were trapped upon, rule of law only exist in our imagination.
    To deal with both police and civil mess, there should be free of information and reorientation of the larger society about their civic rights as enshrined in the constitution.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    To me old dogs cannot learn new tricts for this,if possible they should be retired after which fresh bloods be recruited. Going by this the ugly trend of corrution can be truncated and if any one there try it,they should be dealt with brutally. However,the recruitment be strictly based on merit and well paid.[Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 4.

    Here we go again, debating yet another mere symptom of the cancer of poor leadership on our continent, as if it is the barely-literate (thanks to our glorious educational system), hardly-ever-paid, largely untrained young man/woman in uniform is responsible for the culture of graft imposed on the rest of society from the countless presidential palaces we are cursed with.

    Alas, none of the propsals made by the BBC can possibly achieve the desired aim. For example, who will replace the purged officers? Martians, perhaps? Because if they're to be replaced from within the same societies that produced the corrupt ones, it's ludicrous to expect them to be any different. Neither is this a generational problem: nothing succeeds in self-perpetuation than a culture of graft, and the new generation would simply carry on as those before them. Nor is increased pay necessarily the solution - not in a culture that actively encourages the grand theft of national resources. Officers would simply aim to extort more.

    What is needed is leadership by personal example from the very top. Or is it a coincidence that the three African countries (namely, Neyerere's Tanzania, Kaunda's Zambia, and Botswana) whose leaders led virtually incorruptible lives also happen to have the most incorrutible police officers? Just a thought...

  • Comment number 5.

    The vetting process will definitely make rogue officers think twice before taking bribes. However, civic education and better employment packages will go a long way in solving corruption in the Kenyan police. The vice is rooted so deep that you can not isolate police service and a bribe. Unlike in the west where police presence means more protection and a sense of security, Kenyan Police are so revered by the public and are mostly seen as legal con men. There is need for the public to be educated and made aware that police services are free and bribes are strictly illegal. Traffic Police should find a better way of enforcing traffic rules instead of impounding a bus full of passengers and making them wait at the station for twelve hours. Officers should not be stationed at the same location for long periods. There should be an independent way of measuring police performance periodically and identifying rogue behavior. As long as there is poverty and bad governance in society, corruption will always be their cousin. The vice can however be minimized to tolerable levels

  • Comment number 6.

    Corruption is so deeply ingrained in the culture of most African countries that vetting these police officers though definitely a step in the right direction may only amount to a band aid approach to a much deeper underlying problem. As long there are income inequalities, rampant poverty, inefficient government services and lack of resources, corruption will continue to be rife on the continent.

    The police just happen to be positioned at the frontier of direct government interaction with the populace and that by design lends itself to a nurturing environment for corruption. I daresay that further to vetting, the Kenya government should severely discipline officers found to not be compliant. Additionally, the government should also vet the members of its parliament.

  • Comment number 7.

    Here we go again, debating yet another mere symptom of the cancer of poor leadership on our continent, as if it is the barely-literate (thanks to our glorious educational system), hardly-ever-paid, ill-trained young man/woman in uniform is responsible for the culture of graft imposed on the rest of society from the countless presidential palaces we are cursed with.

    Alas, none of the proposals made by the BBC can possibly achieve the desired aim. For example, who will replace the purged officers? Martians, perhaps? Because if they're to be replaced from within the same cultural environments that produced them in the first place, it would be absurd to expect them to be any different. Neither is this a generational problem, as suggested: nothing succeeds in self-perpetuation than a culture of graft, and the new generation would simply carry on as those before them. Nor is increased pay necessarily the solution - not in a culture that actively encourages the grand theft of national resources. Officers would simply aim to extort more from their helpless brethren.

    What is needed is leadership by personal example from the very top. Or is it a mere coincidence that the three African countries (namely, Nyerere's Tanzania, Kaunda's Zambia, and Botswana) whose leaders led virtually incorruptible lives also happen to have the most incorruptible police forces (or in the first two, to have had them, at least, when those leaders were in office)? Or that Kenyan and Nigerian police forces (whose rulers are a by-word for unrestrained theft, on the contrary, happen to be full of drug-addled, barely literate, largely untrained thugs? Just a thought...

  • Comment number 8.

    Trying to purge the police force of "chaff" is not a very effective way for two reasons: 1. the purging exercise in itself will very likely be corrupted so there is no guarantee that the chaff will actually be purged. 2. Corruption in the police usually starts from the very top of the force. The purging exercise may therefore affect on mid-level officers and leave those at the top (the real source of the corruption) untouched.
    I think a completely new generation of police officers is needed. This new generation should have
    1). Better education
    2). Better equipment
    3). Better pay[Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 9.

    A good gorvernance; which most of Africa's nations lack off at moment, answer this question about the police officers correctly. 'Rogue police officers are the result of rogue governments', and there's no point making endless noise without doing the right thing. 'A man that has one good wife is better than one having so many bad wives with no care.' But how can kenya's government be so sure of getting fine result, when police officers wage is not a thing of encouragement? Indeed, bad pay encourage rogue police officers and that is what one should consider before passing judgement.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is complete mockery of the system and intended by so-called bosses to show that they are working. How a police man who is risking his life will not corrupt been paid $90.00US in my Liberia when he has to use money from the same amount to buy a bag of rice, pay his children tuitions, pay rent, seek medication and so on.

  • Comment number 12.

    Corrupt incompetent and poor leadership on our continent is to blame for all the alledged police corruptions. When the rest of the international community is forging ahead for bettering the lives of their people, African Leadership only thinks of greed, rule by way of force and encouragement of corrupting Officials including the police and army so that they keep the regimes at the peril of all. In my Country Gambia, police are allowed to charge taxi drivers found on traffic offences and ask to pay on the spot.Some drivers would give a fraction of their charges and allowed to go scot free for those crimes. There is no law but that set by the president.How do you expect a mere police first class to do when he/she sees a sergent driving expensive cars when they do not run businesses? I only hope there comes a day when checks and balances are available to us in Africa when we can hold our officials to count. The cure I belief is a presidential term limit in All African countries expacially my Country Gambia.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    It is pointless to "purge" the police force, or to increase salaries of police personnel. The problem lies with the culture of corruption in Africa, and the very visible example that presidents, government officials and members of parliament present to the rest of society, who follow their lead in many cases.

    In South Africa, the police are relatively well paid, certainly better than many other sectors of society such as factory workers, miners, etc. The people in those industries do not enter into corrupt dealings, as they are not presented with the opportunity to do so.

    Many in the police force have the opportunity to solicit bribes (to not issue a fine, not arrest someone, to lose a docket, etc.). They take these bribes irrespective of salary scale. It is a matter of greed, and a culture of entitlement that stems directly from watching our "leaders" - Jacob Zuma, Schabir Shaik, Julius Malema, Tony Yengeni and their ilk, who use every opporunity to line their own pockets and those of family and friends through tenderpreneurship, fraud, corruption and outright immoral activities.

    The need is for better moral leadership and guidance, for children to be taught the right values from a young age, and for societies' vaues as a whole to be unimpeachable. Sadly this is at best a very long term goal, and at worst most likely unachievable in the world we live in today in Africa, where it is the accepted norm to use power to achieve wealth.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    This is what will call hypocrasy. We shoyld be asking who makes the police corrupt and whether the societal system we are leaving the perfect structures to end corruption. Lets srop giving bribes and maybe then will the police have nothing to take but do their jobs.

  • Comment number 18.

    Police officers are the same all over the world. I mean they are corrupt, over zealouse, and take laws into their hands. What separates and make a good police officer from an other country is the law. here i mean the strict respect and implimentation. no body should be seen above the law as the case with police officers in most african countries.

  • Comment number 19.

    Corruption over the years has given the Nigerian Police a pariah status. Nobody respects or trusts an average police personnel. The police are outrightly inept and incompetent and painfully never proactive. They only thrive in extortion, bribery and other corrupt practices. The police, to a large extent, are responsible for the continuous mayhem unleashed by the Boko Haram sect in north-eastern Nigeria. For instance, if one reports a suspect to the police, the good citizen is bound to be visited by the criminals. The problem is quite enormous. I can only suggest that the Nigerian government invest in the training and re-training of the police, drilling and oversea courses and ofcourse proper orientation, set standards and professionalism! To an average Nigerian, a 'kwal', an 'olokpa' or police is not a friend.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.