Automating Occurrence Book Must be tied to a change in mindset
Over the last 10 years the government has been toying with the idea of automating the occurrence book.
According to Police Act Cap 84 (Rev 2010): Every police officer in charge of a police station shall keep a record in such form as the Commissioner may direct, and shall record therein all complaints and charges referred, the names of all persons arrested and the offences with which they are charged.
The Occurrence book, which is under custody of the Officer commanding a police station is assigned a duty officer to among others record criminal bookings, persons seeking justice.
By law, any person under arrest in the police cells must be listed in the occurrence book with the officer assigned listing the; date & time of arrest, reasons for arrest and property seized from the suspects
Persons may also report lost items (National ID Cards, Phones, Sim Cards and other property) which will also be recorded in the occurrence book
According to South Africa Police Standing Orders, the Occurrence Book is the most important of all the registers used in the Service. It must contain a complete record of the history of a police station, besides serving as the control record of all other registers and the Crime Administration System (CAS).
The recent move by the Ministry of Interior, National Police Service Commission and the entire police force to move to automated occurrence book is a key milestone to ensuring sanity in the police stations as well as a first move to instant fines, instant bookings on the move and standardized fine system for petty offenders.
The availability of a database with information of all Kenyans, the near perfect information systems and Kenya Revenue Authority, Company registrar, eCitizen and very soon ministry of lands and Kenyan financial system make the process all but near perfect.
Automating paves way for better handling of petty crimes, but this must go hand in hand with improved service by the police.
In a society where the police are deemed to be poorly educated, pathetic managers, blood hungry coupled with a general hatred towards the Mwananchi, the automated system fails if the above aint better managed.
In civilized societies its very hard to have a person locked in the cells for one crime, only to have totally different charges read to one at the dock. The current status enables easy manipulation and I bet many Kenyans would bear me witness in this.
As Boinet and his crew push for automated Occurrence book, there is no better time to revive the spot fines. A small traffic offense could lead you to losing days in the corridors, a rogue policeman could get your years in jail on trumped up charges, a petty offense by a first-time offender would be better managed.
A system is great, but people are the key to successful implementation of the same.
What happened to the Instant Fines project? Who sabotaged it? Will CJ Mutunga or IG Boinnet ever give us an answer to this? Will CJ Maraga and the Next IG be brave enough to tackle the problems that led to its collapse and make us realise this?