Police stations are mostly strange, fearful and alien places to law abiding Kenyans. It is therefore crucial to demystify the processes there so as to make it “user friendly” as much as it is humanly possible.
Of importance to note is to distinguish between gazetted police stations and temporary holding facilities.
The difference between the two is that:
BOOKING THE SUSPECT
Once a suspect is brought to a police station the arresting officer in charge with the officer assigned booking duties by the OCS records the date, reasons for arrest, time for arrest, property seized with the suspect in the Occurrence Book. Depending with the available facilities, the suspect during this period will be asked to sit on the floor or designated bench. The heavier the crime the more likely you are to cool your heels on the floor.
Once a suspect has been booked a personal search on his body and clothes will be done and all items recovered from him minuted in the occurrence book (OB). It is common practice for police officers to ask suspects to remove their belts, wallets, a single shoe and any other item considered as a weapon or threat to life before locking them up in the cell. All this is done to ensure the safety of the person or their property. It also reduces cases of persons seeking to escape from police cells using all manner of items available to them.
During this period, it is crucial for one to be vigilant, so as to confirm the amount of cash and other items recovered are accurately recorded. This prevents disputes at a later stage when items are being handed back after completion of the process.
It is also vital to remember that in the process of investigation and detecting of crime, police usually employ a heightened sense of security for the wellbeing of the suspects and themselves. They will act tough and in some instances harsh and dismissive. It is all in a day’s work.
Despite all this the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 guarantees all arrested persons certain fundamental rights and freedoms that help to make the process more humane and tolerable. Indeed Article 51 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 guarantees that all arrested suspects retain all their fundamentals rights and freedoms including to petition the court for an order of habeas corpus through the family or next of kin where the suspect have been hidden or not been brought to the court or is suspected to have been abducted by National Police Service officers.
RIGHTS OF AN ARRESTED PERSON
Article 49 of the constitution of Kenya, 2010 clearly spells out some of the rights attaining to arrested person as follows:-
It is of interest to note that OCS are empowered to grant a reasonable cash bail or bond to suspects so that they may appear in court or for further investigations as the case may be
Lastly, it is important to note that NO ONE should be remanded, where the offence complained is punishable by a fine only or for imprisonment not more than six (6) months.
Even with all these constitutional guarantees being held in confinement is an unpleasant experience whose after month lingers forever in one’s mind.
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