Coronavirus: Petty offenders to pay instant fines to avoid overcrowding in cells

One of the measures strongly advocated for in the fight against viral spread is avoidance of crowds

Police spokesman Charles Owino
Police spokesman Charles Owino [Photo/ The Standard]

In Brief

– The announcement was made by police spokesman Charles Owino.

– Serious offenders will, however, continue to face the full wrath of the law, including arrests and detentions.

– Mr. Owino also urged members of the public to uphold all the health measures as outlined by the government.

Police will put on hold arrests and detentions of Kenyans who commit petty offences in a raft of measures aimed at decongesting cells to minimize the possible spread of coronavirus. The announcement has been made by police spokesperson Charles Owino who spoke to the press on Wednesday morning.

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In the statement, the police voice revealed that those caught up in traffic offences and/or other wrongdoings of low complexities will be slapped with instant fines payable through cashless means.

“We have been deliberate in ensuring decongestion in the police cells. The decision to avoid detaining petty offenders arrested during this coronavirus scare adds to this objective. Of what help is it for a police officer to arrest a boda boda rider or a motorist for not having a license and expose him or herself to the highly contagious virus?” posed Owino.

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Additionally, Mr. Owino clarified that police officers will not embrace the proposed ‘work from home’ policy owing to the critical nature of their service. He, however, stated that all service members are in a continuous sensitization period on applicable prevention measures.

The spokesman was however quick to issue a caveat stating that grave crimes will be severely dealt with, noting that the police service does not have powers to bond or bail high-profile offenders.

“That does not mean that we are not on the watch. We will be detaining those who commit serious crimes because we do not have the powers to give them bail or bond other than the courts,” he said.

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The move by the police service comes as a win by civil society groups like Amnesty International that have been battling to have petty offences decriminalized.

Among conducts listed under this category are prostitution, vagrancy, causing public disorder, drunkenness, and social nuisance.

Owino urged citizens to concentrate on upholding safety health measures as opposed to scheming criminal engagements.

“Everybody should be mindful of their health first before even thinking of committing a crime. But we are on a firm lookout.”

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