Why police stations are vulnerable to attacks

A scene of crime officer seen combing for more evidence at a cordoned off Nakulabye police station in Kampala where officers say they successfully repelled an attack from two unknown assailants riding on a Boda Boda motorcycle at around 4am. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Many of the attacked police stations reportedly have weak defences and shortage of manpower. 

Attacks on the police stations have intensified, with the latest incident registered at Nakulabye Police Station yesterday night.

Suspected armed criminals attempted to access the police station, but one was detected by a police officer, who  discharged several bullets sending the intruders fleeing.

Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesman Luke Owoyesigyire yesterday said the police recovered an AK47 magazine containing five bullets that was abandoned by the suspects.

It is the fourth attack on security facilities in less than a month with the deadliest one being in Busiika Police Station in Luweero District, where three police officers were killed.

Many of the attacked police stations reportedly have weak defences and shortage of manpower. More than 120 police posts, especially in central region, were closed as police management implements the sub-county policing model, which aims to strengthen security.

The move came as a result of rampant attacks on the police stations.

According to the police policy documents, only 50 sub-county police stations were supposed to be established this financial year.

In 2019, President Museveni directed the police to have a skeleton police structure, with 20 police officers in one station at the sub-county.

“Because the colonialists didn’t have enough resources, their plan was through the chiefs – Muluka and sub-county chiefs. They (chiefs) would call the tenda (police patrol). I closely monitored it between 1951 and 1958. I could see these people manage huge areas using a skeleton number of police officers,” President Museveni said then.

Mr Museveni said he does not see how 20 police officers can fail to manage crime in a sub-county with a radius of four miles.

“What if we had a police station per sub-county with 20 police officers? There are around 1,600 sub-counties in Uganda. That is a force of 32,000 [officers],” he said.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola’s, plan was to increase the number of police officers  in the country from 45,000 officers to 85,000.

IGP Ochola had also proposed an increase in the number of police stations in the country, which President Museveni rejected on ground that it would increase the financial burden of the government.

The President’s directive was a paradigm shift from the policy of community policing strategy that the former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura implemented.

In Gen Kayihura’s plan, the community would provide land and mobilise resources for the construction of the accommodation and offices of the police.

In return, the police would deploy police officers in the area.

The community policing strategy led to the increase of police posts and stations from around 1,000 to more than 3,000.

However, many posts and stations were established in rented rooms and rent were paid by well-wishers, according to the Auditor General’s reports.

Many local donors withdrew financial support, forcing the police to take over the burden of paying rent, whose funding wasn’t in the police budget.

A police source said some of the personnel who could not rent accommodation using their own resources, returned to the barracks thus leading to the reduction of officers at many police posts.