Men in blue uniform might soon start sharing intelligence with private security groups in an attempt to curb crime in major urban centres.
State security agencies set to benefit from tapping criminal intelligence that is gathered by private security companies whose spread in crime prone areas such as urban centres is higher than that of state agencies responsible for fighting crime.
The two sides will meet this week under the guidance of the Police Reform Implementation Committee (PRIC) to work out rules of engagement, according to a notice placed in the press.
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital is a teeming city of have-nots and have-lots, so notorious for violent crime that it is often called “Nai-robbery.” But there is a new problem, or at least one that is causing new fear — kidnapping, and several recent attacks have been on children and even adults.
More than 100 Nairobi residents have been abducted for ransom last year, security consultants say, a huge increase over years past. Big chunks of money are changing hands. And as the security experts say, the minute you start paying ransom, kidnapping goes from a crime to a business. Just ask those in Mexico City, in Baghdad or in Bogotá, Colombia.
Many people here are beginning to wonder if the Kenyan thugs may have been inspired by their Somali brethren next door, who have made millions snatching foreigners on land and sea.
City-based security expert Werunga Simiyu said the crimes were being fuelled by police inability to come up with clear strategies to tackle the gangs.
He cited also the haste with which relatives of kidnap victims were paying the ransom.
“We have a problem where people, instead of going through traumatizing moments, decide to pay the ransom demanded. All the government has to do is invest in training of special crimes police officers to deal with the menace,” Werunga said.
The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations executive director Stephen Mutoro said members had been reporting more incidents of carjacking and attempted and actual kidnaps. “It is a worrying trend. We are encouraging our members to report all incidents to the police,” he said and urged the public to help the police by making the reports.
Mutoro said that while the association last year handled between 50 and 60 crime reports from its members, they had by last month recorded 50 incidents of carjacking, attempted kidnaps and other crimes.
City police boss Anthony Kibuchi said the police had managed to break up several kidnap rings with the assistance of the public who reported the crimes on time.
“The sooner we get information of a crime the sooner we are able to track-down the perpetrators,” said Kibuchi.
Kibuchi conceded carjacking were still going on despite measures taken to bring down the crime. He said his department had established a special team of officers drawn from the Special Crime Prevention Unit to deal with the kidnappings and carjacking.
Kibuchi said the team was responsible for the rescue of two women abducted from Embakasi last month whose kidnappers were demanding Sh2 million from their families.
Most people and firms are increasingly spending more money on security services in an effort to prevent burglary and break-ins at a time when businesses are looking for ways to cut costs.
“The practice today is that if a private security guard goes to report a crime to the Police, he is arrested as the first suspect. But we want to move over that and share this information cordially,” said Caxton Munyoki, the chairman of the Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA).
Security analysts say sharing of information between the two groups could greatly help deter crimes.
By virtue of being well spread in crime-prone areas, private guards are able to know the mode of operation of criminals and can therefore offer crucial information which can lead to arrest of the criminals.
Security companies reported a surge in their investments towards the end of last year because of high demand for their services from corporate that reported increasing crime, and then attributed to economic slowdown.
The meeting will also “make further proposals to enhance formal coordination and partnership between the Government security agencies and the private security providers,” notes a public invitation.
The partnership will mark a major departure in Kenya’s national security structure by allowing independent bodies to feed intelligence to the Government security agencies.