Institutionalising police reforms in Kenya: lessons from 2012-2015

Kenya’s 2010 constitution fundamentally shifted the legal basis for national policing. The constitution provides for an ambitious set of reform processes aimed at addressing a long-term perception of the police in Kenya as abusive, corrupt, and ineffective. The reforms are intended to transform the police into a modern, accountable, and responsible service provider.

In 2012, Saferworld and Usalama Forum began a three-year programme of work to support the implementation of the police reform agenda and, through this, contribute to the improvement of professionalism within the police service, increase accountability and promote better service delivery for the Kenyan public. Saferworld and Usalama had five objectives for the programme:

  1. To support the creation of a legal and policy framework for policing, incorporating international best practices and meeting the requirements of the constitution.
  2. To support the establishment of empowered, sustainable institutional structures providing better policing services to the Kenyan public.
  3. To contribute to the enhancement of professionalism, integrity, and accountability within the police.
  4. To assist in strengthening the operational preparedness, logistical capacity and capability of the police.
  5. To strengthen the capacity of the Usalama Reforms Forum.

This briefing examines the lessons learned, the challenges faced, and then provides recommendations to government and non-government actors.

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“Much of the necessary legislative and policy framework within which [police] reform must occur is now in place, and successfully reflects the input of civil society including Saferworld, Usalama and other key organisations.”

Esther Njuguna, James Ndung’u and Kathryn Achilles