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Fighting new Crime wave

President Museveni in the CCTV command centre

Experts explain crime wave

Freddie Egesa, a private investigator and security commentator says many crimes are incubated in prisons because the government does not have an after service programme that follows up ex-convict activities.

“These criminals live alone in prisons, create associations, design conspiracies, and create solidarities. They have a feeling that the world hates them and want to revenge. So they come up with a crime brotherhood. And because there is no after service programme, no one knows what these ex-convicts do,” he says.

Following the recent armed robberies and murders and the increasing boldness of the criminals, many people are questioning the police’s approach to fighting crime; including the relevance of the cameras that are costing taxpayers billions.

Egesa says failure of police to conclusively investigate crimes and arrest criminals is fueling the belief that crime is on the rise. He says police has shown ability to solve cases of reckless lovers fighting and killing each other but are woefully unable to solve cases of wise criminals.

“Murder is not a new thing in Uganda; it has always been there only that it didn’t have publicity,” he says, “Now with technology, social media, it is easy to know who has died where and how many people have died.

“It is not that murder has overshot the numbers. The problem lies with the police. They are incapable of closely detecting, conclusively finding the killers and persecuting them.”

The police’s own statistics seem to support Egesa’s view. According to the Police Crime Report 2018, of the few 238,746 crimes registered, only 73,035 cases saw suspects taken to court. Of these, only 22,263 cases were convicted. This means that 91% of people who committed crimes in 2018 have not been convicted. Of these 38,425 cases are pending and 90,763 cases are still under inquiry. The result is that many people languish in prison without police presenting them for trial in court.

“There is poor handling of cases,” says Frank Beine; the public relations officer of the Uganda Prisons service, “You find that out of 1000, only 100 get convicted and the rest are just dumped. It is really a challenge.”

Solomon Matsiko, a scholar of security studies and international relations, says “the situation requires intelligence and soft power more than law and order and military”. He says the new crime wave has erupted because security agencies lack information about what is going on in the community.

“There seems to be lack of connection between security agencies and the people,” he says.

But the police say the public is to blame.

“Personally I think these crimes are a problem of personal security,” says Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan police Spokesperson.

“For example these mobile money operators hire guards from wherever who turn against them. If not that, the guards are poorly equipped without guns,” he told The Independent.

Owoyesigyire says mobile money operators should hire guards from authentic security firms that are well equipped with guns.

“Personal security and vigilance within the community is very important,” he adds.

Regarding following up on ex-convicts, he says, the police has intelligence surveillance of ex-convicts involved in violent crimes.

“We are just going to put more resources in it and make sure that it is extra effective,” he says.

The police is also deploying more security cameras. Between May and June an additional 60 cameras were installed in Kampala Metropolitan area, Wakiso and Mukono.

Up to 2,547 cameras out of a planned 3,233 for the greater Kampala area had been installed, according to the Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga. However, only 1,565 are online and active.

But Egesa says CCTV cameras should be an addition but security agencies should be focusing on core intelligence gathering. He says security agencies are making a mistake by locking the public out of their strategy and concentrating of army and LDUs.

“They should train the public on domestic security,” he says, “This is not an external invasion that needs militia. It is a case of domestic of security.”

Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson agrees.

“People should not be fooled by installed CCTV cameras because their main purpose is helping in identifying and tracing suspects in criminal activities, but they cannot stop criminals from attacking,” he says.

“CCTV cameras and LDUs are for purposes of ensuring general security which is security for everybody. In this case, we emphasize personal security,” he says.

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