We’ve received 62 police deaths complaints - IPOA

A total of 62 deaths caused by police have been reported to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) this year.

Information obtained by Nation Newsplex from IPOA indicates that between January and September 22 this year, a total of 28 fatal shootings involving the police were reported. Another 34 people lost their lives due to other actions by the police.

According to the Authority, some of the 34 died during arrests, in unknown circumstances especially after they reported threats against their lives, or were in police custody while other deaths were attributed to assault by police officers.

More than 122 people were shot and killed by police in Kenya over the first eight months of 2016, representing a seven per cent increase over the same period last year according to Deadly Force, a database built by Newsplex.

IPOA is a civilian organisation that oversees the work of the police. Among its functions are to investigate cases of injury and death in which the police are involved.

The authority receives complaints from both the public and the police, but can also investigate the police without receiving a complaint, on its own motion.


According to the National Police Service Act 2011, if use of firearms by a police officer results in death, serious injury or other grave consequences, the superior of the officer involved must immediately report the incident to IPOA.

The fact that so many police killings go unreported suggests that police officers routinely disregard this rule.

At the moment, the authority only has premises in Nairobi, which means many people travel long distances to file complaints. Mr Macharia Njeru, the Chairman of IPOA agrees. “Kenyans are suffering. People complain a lot,” he told Newsplex. “When somebody has to come physically to Nairobi, they don’t find very good."

Budget documents for 2016/2017 show IPOA received Sh400 million. Mr Njeru said IPOA had appealed successfully to Parliament for more funds after the National Treasury declined to increase its budgetary allocation.

“IPOA has gone through the procurement process. We are hopeful that at the end of the year we will have three spaces, in Mombasa, Kisumu and Garissa.”

He expressed optimism that Treasury would allocate IPOA more funds in the supplementary budget come December to enable the authority build a wider presence countrywide.

“We may not necessarily be in every county because of financial difficulties, but we need at least ten regional offices covering at least the old provincial headquarters. If we can do that we’ll be OK for a while,” he said. That way, he explained, a regional office could serve a cluster of counties.

In the meantime, Mr Njeru says IPOA has been sending investigators around the country to reach more people. “But you know that’s not ideal. Current we have about 45 investigators and we keep sending them, but we still need physical presence in the regions,” he said, noting that sending the investigators was also expensive.


Since its inception, IPOA has received a total of 5,784 complaints against the police. Not all cases reported to IPOA are investigated but some are referred to other relevant authorities for action.

Out of the total cases reported, IPOA decided to investigate 1,330 of them. Currently, 160 cases are under active investigation while another 116 files which have been completed are under final internal legal review before forwarding to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP).

A total of 321 have been completed by IPOA without being forwarded to the ODPP while 163 other cases have been finalised and closed on the recommendation of the ODPP.

Of the 60 files which have been forwarded, the ODPP has reviewed and finalised 44 files. Thirty of the files so far reviewed by the ODPP are pending before court as at July 31 this year.

An audit of the status of police reforms in Kenya by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and University of Nairobi’s Centre for Human Rights and Peace found the relationship between the oversight body and the police is strained.

The report revealed that instilling accountability in the police service has continued to be a challenge since officers see accountability mechanisms as part of a witch hunt, which is at finding fault with their work.

The report also says there is “widespread perception in the NPS that IPOA has pre-judged the police and that the authority treats the officers as hardcore criminals, which has affected cooperation between the two agencies”.

The animosity between the police and IPOA played out on August 4 this year when the authority’s board released a statement which blamed Kayole OCPD Ali Nuno of threatening, assaulting and detaining an IPOA investigator who had visited his office to deliver a summons.

The summons required Nuno to appear before IPOA on allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. The statement alleged that he refused to accept a summons legally served on him, assaulted the IPOA official and threatened to shoot him before locking him up in a cell.

IPOA lodged a complaint with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) to stop the official being charged in Makadara Courts the next morning. The ODDP directed the Inspector General of Police not to take any precipitate action until formal approval by his office but this was ignored. The investigator was bonded to appear in court and it took the intervention of the DPP’s office for the matter not to be registered in court.

IPOA has also developed a training manual on Evidence-Based Monitoring of Police Operations to guide the authority in undertaking independent investigations 

“The incident is a culmination of obstruction that IPOA has faced in the last couple of months arising from directives given by the Inspector General that no investigations on police officers be carried out by IPOA unless authorized directly from his office,” the report stated.

Regarding the matters reported and the cases investigated, IPOA has clarified that it was not only to fix blame. “While in pursuit of its mandate activities, the Authority has intermittently been mistaken for only looking for blame in the Police Service. This however, is not the case,” the head of communications Dennis Oketch said.
Oketch said that the authority was also training its investigators to boost their investigative skills. In June this year, for example, 17 investigators from IPOA undertook forensic training where they acquired advanced knowledge and skills to conduct forensic investigations within the desired standards, timelines and quality.

IPOA has also developed a training manual on Evidence-Based Monitoring of Police Operations that is expected guide the authority in undertaking independent investigations of policing operations and recommend remedial action, where necessary.