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Criminal justice pathway training for Kenya's frontline police reservists

17 March, Laikipia - "Think trial". That was the central message of training for frontline law enforcement officers from Kenya's National Police Reserve (NPR) in Laikipia County delivered by UNODC’s Programme for combating crimes that affect the environment and climate.

When training such units, most organisations usually focus on operational issues, such as tactical deployment, scenes of crime handling, powers of arrest, search and seizure.

This was the first time these officers in Laikipia had received training on the criminal justice pathway and their role within it. 

Out of the 47 NPR officers present, more than half had conducted arrests, seizures and crime scene preservation, but only two had ever given evidence in court. And though many had been involved in situations where arrests had been obstructed or even violently resisted - requiring a reasonable use of force in response - none had received training in how to record that use of force and the importance of monitoring and contemporaneous statement writing in relation to any of their operations. 

During the two-day training course (16-17 March), the NPR officers were challenged with many scenarios that replicated the real life situations they often face.

They were tutored on drafting statements. They were then asked to give evidence on their statements, while being subjected to rigorous cross-examination, such as they might face during a real-life trial in court. 

Drawing on UNODC's deep understanding of the context in which these officers operate, UNODC tailored the course in a way that enabled the officers to gain a better understanding of how criminal cases are built, the ‘points to prove’ required to establish the most common offences they are likely to handle, together with admissibility challenges, particularly in relation to the use of canines. 

In more remote parts of Kenya, these NPRs are the face of law enforcement.

At the conclusion of the course several officers said, “Please can you make sure other units get this training”.