By Nabutola Wanjala
A number of security organisations in Kenya now offer a kaleidoscope of services and products including in person guarding, alarm monitoring, transportation of cash, private investigation and provision of risk management.
In policing activities, one might assume that careful attention would have been paid to the legal framework within which these cooperative activities take place. Sadly, this has not been the case.
Furthermore, there is no legislation that deals with the registration, licensing, identification and training of private legal personnel.
There is little Kenyan legislation and even less in the common law that permits security guards/firms to wield specific powers.
From their activities, the security firms believe that they possess the same powers as police officers, to the extent that they had petitioned the then commissioner of police, Mohammed Ali, to allow them to fix alarm equipment on their vehicles, a move that the commissioner refused.
Nowhere in the Kenyan laws do specific âpolicingâ laws directly and consistently focus on the way that private security personnel are empowered to act or to be given immunity from civil/criminal suits.
In contrast, police have coercive and intrusive powers that are delineated in more or less clearly defined circumstances.
The Kenyan police are mandated to act to prevent the commission of an offence. This is clearly spelt out under section 14 of the Police Act, which states that âthe force shall be employed in Kenya for the maintenance of
law and order, the preservation of peace, the protection of life and property, the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders and the enforcement of all laws and regulations with which it is charged.â
This brings us to the question: Are security firms, through their servants, allowed to carry out searches on Kenyans? If so, under which legislation?