Inspector General of Police appears keen to subvert NPSC's authority

In November of last year, the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) advertised 51 civilian vacancies in the National Police Service (NPS) in human resources, legal, internal audit, supplies and others.

After processing over 7,000 applications, shortlisting them, and conducting interviews in December 2023, 51 people were appointed and were supposed to start work two week ago.

Unfortunately, they were denied entry into their respective NPS offices.

It was later revealed that the Inspector General of NPS and his two deputies were invited to participate in the interviews but did not attend.

Earlier in the year, the IG purported to promote 514 police officers unilaterally. The NPSC declared the promotions irregular and illegal and advertised the positions again.

In response, the IG warned officers not to apply for the vacancies under pain of disciplinary action.

The NPSC and IG are both creatures of the Constitution with distinct but complementary mandates and functions.

The NPSC is a civilian-led constitutional commission mandated to cater to the NPS’s human resources function, similar to the relationship between the Judiciary and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Its mandate is to recruit and appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the Service, confirm appointments, determine promotions and transfers within the NPS and exercise disciplinary control of the Service.

For illustrative purposes, imagine the Chief Justice as head of the Judiciary publicly deciding to disregard or reject the decisions of the JSC, which she sits on as a member. Instead, the CJ decides to promote judges and magistrates without the involvement of the JSC.

Apart from the chairperson, the membership of the NPSC includes a lawyer qualified to be a judge, two retired police officers, three persons who have served the public with distinction, the IG, and the respective deputy IGs of the Administration Police (AP) and Kenya Police Service (KPS).

Notably, Section 2 of the NPSC Act allows the commission to delegate powers to the IG to carry out recruitment, promotion and disciplinary action for officers under the rank of superintendent.

This means that anything above this rank is the sole province of the commission.

The 2010 Constitution radically redesigned policing by creating the commission to carry out human resource management to address the corruption, favouritism, and nepotism that had riddled the police.

The goal was to have police as a noble profession where their welfare such as skills, salaries, and physical and mental health is catered for adequately.

The intention was to recruit, transfer, and promote by merit. Complaints mechanisms and disciplinary actions were meant to be carried out fairly, just like any other profession.

The drafters were very deliberate in including retired officers, the IG, and the two deputies in the commission membership so that the voice, views, needs, and reality of the police are taken into account.

The NPSC finds itself in a precarious position, grappling with an IG who seems intent on subverting its authority.

This comes after the ‘Maraga Report’ on police welfare and other reforms outlined the NPSC’s huge struggle to assemble a quorum, which can be easily sabotaged by the failure of attendance by the IG and the two deputy IGs.

Without a quorum, deliberations cannot be conducted and decisions made. The report also indicted the NPS leadership for lacking strategic vision.

The Public Service Commission has also been roped in for allowing itself to be used to recruit civilian staff in violation of Article 234 (3) (c) of the Constitution, which expressly removes the PSC from hiring staff in NPSC, JSC, Teachers Service Commission, and Parliamentary Service Commission.