The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Ochola, has revealed that Greater Masaka has been chosen as the pilot area for the sub-county-based policing model. The model that was proposed by President Yoweri Museveni in 2019 is intended to curtail the scattering of police personnel in small booths, posts, and stations.
Museveni while commissioning the National Closed Circuit Command Centre at Naguru said the British’s policing model proved effective compared to the current police deployment where the personnel are strewn in very small groups that do not have an impact on fighting crime.
Ochola has indicated that the police force has been making strategies to ensure that this model is implemented and Greater Masaka will be the first place to try out its effectiveness.
Ochola’s confirmation is contained in the address to Museveni. “Sir, in line with your directive, the UPF Management is in the advanced stages of implementing the Sub-County Policing model beginning with Greater Masaka Region, where each sub-county will receive a vehicle, motorcycles, radio, and personnel strength of 18,” Ochola said.
The sub-county policing model will see more than 2,000 police posts and the small station closed which police say has been a soft target for criminal gangs who would attack and still rifles.
In 2021 and 2022, a number of police posts were attacked by armed groups linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Uganda Coalition Forces for Change (UCFC) leaving more than 10 police officers and soldiers killed.
Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime, said armed groups which were also described as terrorists were taking advantage of small numbers of police personnel deployed at the posts and small stations to attack, kill and take guns.
Although no specific reason has been given as to why Greater Masaka has been chosen for the pilot Subcounty policing model, the area has had a series of heinous criminal incidents where locals have been butchered like animals using machetes. Many sub-counties in the districts of Masaka, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Kyotera, and Lwengo do not have police personnel but only rely on main stations.
There are over 1,496 sub-counties in the country according to the ministry of local government. However, the Electoral Commission data put the figures at 2,184 including town councils and municipality divisions.
It means that the deployment of 18 police officers per sub-county will total 26,928 personnel. Although the Ministry of Internal Affairs last year estimated the total police force to be over 55,000, Ochola has said they currently have 49,928 personnel against the population of 43 million. “Numerically, the Force will now have a staff strength of 49, 928 personnel against a population of 43m.
This appears pleasant, but still, falls below the internationally recognized ratio of 1:500. This re-affirms the need for urgent recruitment and training,” Ochola said.
Whichever the exact police figures are, the sub-county policing model will leave the police institution with a standby force of more than 20,000 to back up sub-county stations that will be facing more security threats.
However, the model will face obstacles unless the recruitment of forensic experts and the purchase of a new fleet are swiftly done.
Andrew Mubiru, the Police Director for Forensic Science in one of the interviews with URN said they had about 600 forensic experts leaving a deficit of over 1000 if each sub-county is to get one.
In addition, many motorcycles, ambulances, and vehicles were reported grounded for years and needed replacement or repair.
The Director of Health Services Moses Byaruhanga last year said the total number of health workers in the force stood at 600. It also means many sub-county-based police stations will not have medical workers to care for the officers.