An ambitious text based policing portal that enables whistleblowers to inform security agencies of brewing dens and any crime as it occurs has now gone national.
The community based crime monitoring and reporting system ‘Mulika Uhalifu’ is now in use in Nakuru and Nandi counties where it has shown a positive response from security agencies and a steady decline in crime.
Mulika Uhalifu developer Ms Grace Wanjohi said the system could be scaled up to include all counties via a web-based portal which would enable security agencies to uniformly receive alerts and also have them interact more often on an affordable mode.
“In starting off with a few counties, we were testing the system capacity as we also got feedback from the field. Further, we wanted to find out the nature of the issues raised,” said the product initiator.
The system involves training of community policing teams together with security agencies which helps the two teams’ co-ordinate security arrangements and responses.
Nandi County Commissioner Mr Kangethe Thuku said the new portal had helped create awareness among residents who had shown interest in using the system to engage security agencies.
“The crime rate has gone down as information is available for all to see which leads to positive action from relevant offices. Petty crime reports are now regularly received and acted upon while cattle thieves and illicit brew dens have now been exposed,” he said.
Nakuru County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha said the system has created checks and balances reducing graft among the security agencies who had no choice but to act on all reports received much to the satisfaction of residents.
Nakuru launch Mulika Uhalifu project last December which jolted security agencies into alertness as reports keep coming in and any action taken is also reported online for everyone’s consumption. This saw responses follow on whether residents were happy or needed further action.
“We have piloted for the entire country to see that technology can help us fight crime. Messages are sent to use where senders are happy with the confidentiality of the system. We want it upgraded into an integrated system that also includes follow-up action taken and eventual sentencing in court of suspects,” he said.
The text message is sent through a premium code 22068 to select security agencies in a region and it costs only a shilling.
Nakuru and Nandi counties are the pioneers for the new system that is touted as the security agencies’ mode of e-governance.
Although it has not been launched in all the counties, there has been tremendous response with people sending sms to the system counties such as Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kisumu, Nairobi, Uasin Gishu, and Kericho.
Ms Wanjohi noted that most people have a lot of information regarding crime but they do not know where to report the same for the right action to take place.
Members of the public have been assured that their numbers will be concealed when their text are forwarded for action. The online portal is also available for complete anonymity where one can key in information and omit their contact details.
Ms Wanjohi said it took her three years to develop the system that also benefitted from useful inputs from security personnel.
The initiative which is funded by the Business Integrity Africa (BIA) seeks to create security conscious societies that deliberately participate in securing their regions.
Once the message is received in the system, it will be forwarded immediately to security bosses in the sender’s county as well as the county commissioner, the police commander, the administration commandant, county CID director and National Intelligence.
“It will further be forwarded within five seconds, to the Deputy County Commissioner, the Officer commanding police station and all their teams per county,” explained Ms Wanjohi.
The follow up will be headed by the County Security Committee, chaired by the County Commissioner.
This is to enable accountability, transparency, and enhance teamwork among the multiple security agencies and ensure that issues raised by the community are attended to swiftly and efficiently.
“It will be transparent in such a way that a person can lodge complaint on line and get a status report of complaint online,” she added.
Mulika initiative currently holds two products; mulika uhalifu and mulika pombe.
By Benard Ogembo