IGP Issues Fresh Guidelines on Arrests, Treatment of Suspects

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Okoth Ochola (R)

Police officers have been directed to properly identify themselves and the units they are attached to, as well as ensure that there is reasonable grounds before effecting any arrest.

This is part of a set of new guidelines issued by the Inspector General of Police, Okoth Ochola in his latest changes to redeem the dented image of the Police.

The guidelines were announced Sunday, in a series of posts made by the IGP on his official Twitter account. He said the guidelines are in conformity with Article 23 of the Constitution, Section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act and Section 23 and 24 of the Police Act.

“I have issued guidelines that Police Officers must follow while carrying out arrests,” the IGP tweeted, adding that “all arresting officers will take notice of the two types of arrests in our routine operations; arrest without warrant and arrest with warrant”.

“The arresting officer must satisfy himself/herself that there is reasonable ground to affect the arrest. A Police Officer effecting arrest must identify himself or herself using his/her warrant card,” he added.

In addition, the guidelines demand that the arresting officer “must” indicate and identify his/her unit.

The arresting officer shall also inform the person arrested of the nature of the offence for which arrest is being affected.

On the handling of the suspects, Ochola has ordered that male suspects arrested must be put on handcuffs and that all female suspects should be handled by women Police officers.

“Persons arrested must be escorted to the nearest gazetted police station and should be transferred immediately to the station where the investigations or complaint was reported”.

The Police chief adds that a Police officer will not affect an arrest unless a formal complaint has been made and that all arrests must be done with full authorization of unit superiors/commanders.

The IGP months ago came out to condemn the habit of arresting people when the arresting officer has neither identified themselves nor informed the suspect why they are being arrested.

It followed complaints raised by some of the victims as well as a section of the public amid heightened cases of kidnappings.

Some had expressed concern that such arbitrary arrests were likely to create further fear among the citizens as it was difficult to differentiate the Police from people with criminal intentions.

Meanwhile, Ochola has also directed that henceforth, all suspects arrested “must” be treated humanely and given right of access to communicate with immediate family/lawyers as well as medical care where inquiry/injuries has been occasioned during the arrests.

These directives come just days after Police was largely criticized by rights campaigners for violating Constitutional rights against Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze who was for weeks subjected under arrest in hospital.

Nambooze’s condition placed Police under condemnation for what some said was denial of the suspect access to specialized medical treatment which she required at the time.

IGP Ochola has also said thay “all suspects arrested by the citizens or sister agencies are rearrested by a Police Officer to whom the suspect has been handed over and all the procedures of suspects’ management must be followed”.

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