Members of the National Assembly unanimously voted to have a Parliamentary Police Unit to be charged with maintaining law and order within Parliament precincts, providing security to legislators, parliamentary staff and the institution’s property.
This is contained in the Parliamentary Service Bill which went through the Third Reading last Thursday. Parliament Police Station has been tasked to provide security to Parliament over the years.
Under the proposed law, the new unit will be headed by a County Commissioner of Police, also a new position.
Parliament, through the Justice and Legal Affairs committee, had proposed the unit be headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police but was advised otherwise since such a position is not provided for in the ranking structure of the National Police Service (NPS).
Officers serving in the new unit will be deployed from the NPS by the Inspector General of Police, according to the law.
The operating procedures and staffing requirements of the unit will be determined by the National Police Service Commission on the recommendations of the IG.
NPS in its recommendations to Parliament, said it is necessary the police unit be established by an Act of Parliament and the same be anchored in the NPS Act to avoid a breach of existing laws and the possible conflict in the chain of command and discipline.
NPS said existing specialised units have been established by the IG in exercise of powers vested by law. Such units include the GSU, the Diplomatic Police Unit and the Railway Police Unit.
The parliamentary unit will operate alongside existing others, including the Presidential Escort and the Kenya Airports Police Unit.
Contributing to the debate, National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale said the bill had clarified that what was established was a Parliamentary Police Unit which shall have specialised police officers and not a service.
However, Bumula MP Mwambu Mabongah sought to know the number of personnel to serve in the unit.
“When you talk about a police unit, which is under the IG, how many personnel are you looking at? You have to be sure. There are units which have very few personnel. You need to be very specific,” he said.
In response, the Justice committee chair William Cheptumo told members when the committee conducted public participation on the bill, the NPS said it will address the staffing issue.
“I know it must be such a big number since the unit will be serving Parliament. It should be reasonable in terms of the numbers, but that is the business of the IG,” he said.
Defending the formation of the unit, members said such establishments exist in other comparative jurisdictions such as Canada, UK and Australia.
In Canada, the Parliamentary Protective Service is a federal law enforcement agency that is mandated to protect life and property and maintain peace and order within the precinct in Ottawa, Ontario.
In the UK, the provision of security services on the parliamentary estate is contracted out to the Metropolitan Police Service while in Australia the parliamentary security service is the frontline uniformed staff responsible for the day to day security operations.