SHOCKING: Why more criminals are roaming Kenyan streets

27 Apr 2015 | by Kelly Simiyu
SHOCKING: Why more criminals are roaming  Kenyan streets

Kenya security agencies battle the rising violent crime especially terrorism around the country, their inability to link serial criminals to series of with the help of fingerprint data is worrying.

Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations through its Criminal Records Office (CRO) is tasked with gathering and compiling intelligence where crimes have occurred and storing it for future comparison to others.

They have the option of tapping and mining into the National Civil Registry’s fingerprint database to compare such fingerprints lifted from Scenes of crime to identify criminals.

The department has, however, been dodged with lack modern forensic laboratories, fingerprint identification equipment and DNA testing equipment.  

The announcement of  a tender for the construction of a Ksh 5.7 billion forensics lab at its headquarters in the Kiambu road CID headquarters expended to be complete by 2017 is a welcome relief. However, what the CID needs more is a comprehensive fingerprint database that is linked to all public institutions that will help identify criminals including first offenders.

As it is now, the only criminals who can be nabbed by Kenyan police are those with previous convictions or whose fingerprints were lifted from crime scenes.

Any criminal conversant with the crime biometrics concept will easily slip through any investigation.

Fingerprints are the most common biometric concept used in Kenya. Other security services worldwide also rely on DNA, irises, voice patterns, palm prints, and facial patterns.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has over the year relied on to authenticate an individual’s identity and to figure out who someone is using a fingerprint left on a murder weapon or a bomb. More recently, they have relied on its Science and Technology Branch to strengthen their ability to combat crime and terrorism with state-of-the-art biometrics technology. However, pundits are questioning the CID’s condition that every applicant of a Certificate of Good Conduct should produce their national identity card before submitting their fingerprints for analysis.

For purposes of establishing a comprehensive fingerprint data base, the Criminal Registry Office which issues Certificates of Good Conduct to paying individuals seeking confirmation that they have never been involved in crime should accept fingerprints all fingerprints, the pundits argue.

It then, will the CRO be able to build a sufficient and comprehensivedata base and that to if they   co-opt the National Civil Registry data base.

A year ago in April 2014, the Director of Criminal Investigations Muhoro Ndegwa announced the commencement of the refurbishment of the Forensic laboratory at the Kiambu based CID headquarters giving hope  that police might soon be able to complex terror and other criminal cases. The project was to include installation of CCTV cameras, incinerators, and cabling in the laboratory which will also have a crime database with a fully equipped fingerprint and DNA records. Muhoro said then that lack of a forensic laboratory was the reason so many cases have remained unresolved. Police have had to rely on the Government Chemist for analysis of any samples during investigations. Unfortunately, the government Chemist operates under its own schedule and will not necessarily work as fast as the police would appreciate. In the investigation of allegations that the Imenti Central legislator Gideon Mwiti sexually assaulted a woman, police had to wait for over a week for the Government Chemist to submit the results before the case was taken to court. In the investigations of allegations that women were miraculously giving birth to babies after being prayed for by controversial London based preacher Bishop Gilbert Deya, the Kenyan Police investigators were forced to take DNA samples to South  Africa to establish whether indeed the women were the children’s biological parents.

Due to the logistical complexities, the case took longer than would be necessary to prosecute. It is no wonder that Kenyan police have in the recent past been unable to link firearms to a series of crimes they have been used to commit because of lack of such equipment. The G3 rifle used in the murder of the late Kabete legislator George Muchai, his two bodyguards and driver has no been linked to any other crime despite the fact that the suspects have been found to be suspects in other previous crimes. This is because the CID lack comprehensive Ballistic examination equipment that would pick out the unique identification marks the firearm leaves on any bullet discharged.

More often than not, detectives carelessly handle scenes of crime and distort evidence that would have otherwise assisted them solve crimes not because they are ignorant but because they are aware of their inability to use such evidence owing to lack of equipment.

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