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IGP Ochola bans issuance of pistols to civilians, private security organisations

IGP Ochola. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Inspector-General of Police Martin Ochola, has banned the issuance of pistols to private security organisations and individuals. The directive was revealed to owners of private security organizations by the acting Commissioner of Police in charge of private security and firearms, Charles Ssebambulidde during a meeting held on Thursday in Kampala.

The ban follows concerns raised by members about the bureaucracy whenever they apply for pistols.

“For the issue of pistols, there is no debate. No issuance of pistols to private individuals. That is the current stand. But we will discuss more with you directors,” Ssebambulidde said.

Although Ssebambulidde did not reveal the reasons for the ban, it is speculated that some security guards and individuals would easily use pistols in public areas such as bars, restaurants, and shopping centres to threaten people.

Grace Matsiko, the Chairman of the Uganda Private Security Association, said even a circular had been shared to various police stations not to assent to any request that demands a private pistol.

“I will not go into details but we have been informed that the IGP issued a circular to all police stations to suspend the issuance of pistols to individuals including private security organizations. But we hope this will be reviewed with the engagement of the IGP’s office,” Matsiko said.

The meeting was organized purposely to deliberate issues surrounding the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU)’s request that private security organizations need to join workers’ unions.

But the Uganda Private Security Association had already been warned by police that joining NOTU would lead to protests by security guards which in security matters tantamount to mutiny.

“We have been getting pressure from labour unions that we join them. We recently got a communication from the ministry of labour that we can join labour unions. That is why we have held this meeting to dialogue and to see how best we can move on. Remember police had warned us against joining such unions when we are dealing with weapons,” Matsiko said.

The private security association has 320 registered private security organizations but only 250 are active. The rest according to Matsiko registered but are yet to get the money to kick start their services.

For one to start operating a private security organization, it requires at least 200 Million Shillings since there is a need to hire or purchase weapons and ammunition.

Some organizations risk being deleted from registered private security lists because they are breaching operational requirements that include hiring people who have not been vetted.

“If you are given operation license, it is mandatory that you follow up regulations set up by the government and implemented by the police. Your license can be revoked if you don’t follow regulations. But of course, they are organizations that have been canceled. Even this year we have information that some will not be operational,” Matsiko said.

Away from hiring unscrupulous guards, some private security companies reportedly lack sufficient funds to pay their employees. This has led guards into conspiring with criminals to kill or break into the premises they are protecting.

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