Uganda Police to audit number of crime preventers

Uganda Police to audit number of crime preventers
President Yoweri Museveni (in hat) presiding over the crime preventers pass out ceremony at Nyakasharara, Kiruhura District

The Uganda Police Force has said it will undertake an audit to ascertain the exact number of crime preventers in the country.

The number of crime preventers is not exact, with many reports indicating conflicting figures. While former police chief Kale Kayihura quoted the figure of 11 million, President Museveni last month said there are 12 million crime preventers in the country.

According to the National Crime Preventers Forum, however, there are at least 30 crime preventers per village, meaning this would translate to 1.7 million crime preventers.

The police started recruiting crime preventers in 2013 to help in community policing. However, after the appointment of Martin Okoth-Ochola to replace Kayihura in March, President Museveni announced that crime preventers would now fall under the reserve force in the army.

This week, the Minister of State for Veterans Affairs, Bright Rwamirama said the crime preventers would be retrained.

Now IGP Martin Okoth-Ochola has said the Police will do an audit on the number of crime preventers to establish the actual strength.

Ochola says that there shall not be any gap in the policing since before crime preventers came in, the Police were working.

He says Police will dominate and occupy the space. Ochola was on Thursday this week appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence alongside Ministers of Internal Affairs Jeje Odongo and Obiga Kania, and the Deputy IGP Sabiti Muzeeyi.

Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala County Member of Parliament had asked the Police to give the exact number of crime preventers and how they are going to deal with the transition.

Although they were meant for community policing, the opposition and civil society activists questioned the purpose of raising crime preventers, saying they were being prepared to rig elections.

In 2015, hundreds of crime preventers in Northern Uganda were duped to participate in a campaign against presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

The crime preventers were told that they were heading for a training under the Police, but where instead taken to a march from Corner Kamdini to Heritage Gardens near Karuma Bridge in Oyam district. The march was organised by Odonga Otto, the Aruu County South MP.