KAARO KARUNGI | NEWS – The Uganda Police Force management has instituted a number of policies and procedures to manage and minimize the risk of civil litigation. Some of these include, but not be limited to; appropriate personnel selection procedures, training, sensitization and supervision.
The Inspector General of Police, J.M Okoth Ochola, confirmed the development while presiding over a sensitization workshop “UNDERSTANDING CIVIL LITIGATION FROM A POLICE PERSPECTIVE” at Police headquarters, Naguru.
Also in attendance was the Director Civil Litigation Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs MR Mwambutsya Martin, Directors, RPCs, Heads of Departments and OC CIDs among others.
Some of the incidents that have always commonly given rise to civil litigation against Police are; misuse of firearms, unlawful arrests, search, and seizure, poor responses to complaints, illegal detentions etc.
The Force management has now also put in place mechanisms that discipline, demote, terminate the employment of and, in some cases, file criminal charges against individual Police officers whose conduct does not rise to the performance level expected. But more needs to be done especially at the operational level”.
Speaking at the workshop, the IGP said it could not have come at any opportune moment than now. “Although it is difficult to measure precisely the nature and extent of victim actions against Police or its Administrators, there are substantial indications that civil litigation against the Force and the subsequent effect to its personnel have increased significantly,” he said.
The institutional consequences of civil suits include financial costs and bad publicity, even if the suits are successfully defended. Civil litigation can also have consequences for the individual officers involved, including financial costs, psychological stress, and a reluctance to perform policing tasks that carry a high risk for civil liability.
The Police therefore believe that through such a workshop, all Unit commanders are in position to sensitize their subordinate officers to apply the well-established Police policies, procedures, rules, tactics, behaviors, and practices that are lawful, endorsed by, and acceptable within the professional, Constitutional and legal limits.
The professional practices and standards are derived from, and given meaning and clarity by a variety of legal sources that include; The Constitution of Uganda, The Police Act, The Criminal Procedure Code Act, The Penal Code Act, The Evidence Act, and the Police Standing Orders, among others.
“At the institutional level, we have also embarked on in-service refresher training for our Police officers especially for what we can loosely term to be “perishable skills”— skills that can diminish without training— and deemed absolutely necessary and, when neglected, can lead to lawsuits./,” The IGP said.