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Police establish one centre to handle gender violence

By Jeckonia Otieno | November 28th 2020

Makueni County Policare Unit where gender-based violence cases and those relating to children will be handled. [Jeckonia Otieno, Standard]

The National Police Service has come up with a one-stop shop in an attempt to curb rising cases of gender-based violence (GBV).

Edward Mbugua, the Deputy Inspector General of Police yesterday said the project dubbed ‘Policare’, which is being piloted, is expected to handle cases in synergy.

“The National Police Service has noted an increase in sexual gender-based violence. From the time schools were closed due to the pandemic, we have been receiving reports of many cases,” Mbugua said.

He added that as a result of this, the Service has come up with a way of dealing with the cases. He said that a significant number of cases go unreported because of the way they are handled in the stations and the duplicity that comes with reporting.

“You go to the police station to report a case then you are referred to the crime branch where you have to repeat case details. From there you have to go to a medical practitioner and have to repeat the same details too. This discourages victims.”

Computer system

Policare (Police Care) puts together a collaborative approach in handling GBV involving the police, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), Ministry of Health, the Judiciary and those involved in psychosocial support.

The model centre is currently situated on Ngong in a renovated building near the Nairobi Area Traffic headquarters and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Once a report is made, it is filed in a computer system where the relevant authorities can access it without having to subject the victim to more trauma of having to repeat the entire story to different parties.

“There is a person receiving the report who then sends the victim for counselling and then for medical help and a P3 form is filled in before the file is processed and handed over to an officer from the DPP and on to the Judiciary,” he explained.

The pilot currently covers Nairobi Area but Mbugua says it will be expanded to cover the entire country. Among the problems the project will solve include reducing the number of people handling exhibits, thus reducing the chances of tampering with them.

One of the challenges the project faces is lack of enough resources starting from the nerve centre as Mbugua said it is not yet funded by the government but just an initiative of the police service.

Currently, most of the funding comes from the DIG’s office, since he is the patron while Police Spokesperson Charles Owino, contributed Sh100,000 even as Coffee International under a project called Reinvent is helping with the technical operations.

The project seeks to fit into the already existing services which include the use of the digital Occurrence Book and gender desks in some police stations. The DIG said that there are plans to increase the gender desks but this will need more resources.

The number of police stations increased by 700, which means that there must be a plan to have gender desks in each police station.

Several hurdles

The coordinator of the project, Zipporah Nderitu says that it was an idea conceived due to underreporting of cases because of several hurdles victims face. “We are seeking to change the view from police scares to police cares and one of the ways is to have these centres.”

In January, Inspector General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai ordered for the reactivation of gender desks because “gender issues need some special privacy and care.”

These desks play a critical role in helping children and adults victims. A 2012 survey by the State found that intimate partners account for about half of all sexual violence cases among children.

The report, Violence Against Children in Kenya: Findings of a 2010 National Survey noted: “Less than 10 per cent of females and males who experienced sexual, physical or emotional violence as a child actually received some form of professional help.”

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