Editor's Comment

Yes, police service needs to be beefed up


INSPECTOR General of Police Kakoma Kanganja needs to be supported in his appeal to Government to give the service special consideration to recruit 3,000 officers to effectively manage the 2021 general elections.
We certainly agree with the IG that sufficient human resource and transport are required for the police service to not only police the 2021 general elections effectively but maintain law and order throughout.
“I would like to make an earnest appeal that the Zambia Police Service be given special consideration to recruit at least 3,000 officers and procure adequate transport in 2020,” he said.
Currently, the Zambia Police has about 20,000 officers against a population of about 17 million.
As the status is now, the police officer to civilian ratio stands at 1:850.
This by far falls short of the United Nations recommended ratio of 1:450 or approximately 225 police officers for every 100,000 people.
As the country’s population grows, it is inevitable that the police human resource is tagged along in growth.
For any country, it is always important to have a good balance of police and population so as not to strain the police service or leave citizens unprotected.
As the 2021 general election draws near, it is certainly a strong reminder to put measures in place to ensure peace is sustained during that crucial period.
The 2016 general elections gave a hint of how prepared the police should be for such sensitive events.
The election aftermath violence experienced in 2016 is enough to get the police service thinking how they are going to ensure law and order during yet another crucial election where stakes are extremely high.
Already, some by-elections held between 2016 and now have indicated the need for beefing up security.
We’ve had incidences of violence where people have been injured and life lost during some by-elections.
Based on such occurrences, it is only professional that the police interrogate their readiness to handle a general election to ensure law and order prevails throughout the country.
This is why they are appealing for a mandate to employ more police officers to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.
It is a known fact that the police service’s recruitment process is not done as and when need arises like other organisations.
Despite vacancies created through retirement, dismissals, resignations and even death, replacements cannot be made immediately. They have to wait for such a time when funds are available and recruitment is done en masse.
This has to some extent prevented the police service manpower to grow proportionate to the population.
Actually, the demand by the Police IG is modest going by the recommended UN police – civilian ratio.
Going by the UN ratio, the population of 17 million would require 38,000 police officers.
This means the police service needs to beef up manpower by at least 18,000.
However, it should be noted that the UN recommended ratio only approximates the maximum that is generally acceptable but depending on the need, a country can lower the ratio further.
This applies to the Zambian situation; depending on the assessed need, the appropriate ratio could even be lower.
In as much as the IG is focussed on the general elections, certainly the increase in population also comes with high crime rates.
This is not only evidenced through crime reports but congestion in prisons as well.
It is no doubt the police service needs to move with time.
And as the police service works towards beefing up manpower, there is also need to enhance professionalism and skills.
Police must upgrade to match the levels of crime sophistication in this new technology era.
The police must also endeavour to sharpen their skills on how to manage crowds to avoid unnecessary injuries and deaths.
It is indisputable that the responsibility on the shoulders of the police service is huge and they require the support of all stakeholders, including citizens.
It is also hoped that Government will give the IG’s request the attention it deserves even amid meagre resources.

Facebook Feed