Manpower Review Uncovers Existence of 2000 'Ghost' Police Officers


A recent audit commissioned by Inspector General of Police, Martins Ochola, has once again brought to light that over 2000 police officers have abandoned their posts but continue to receive salaries.

Upon handing over the office to Ochola in 2018, Gen Edward Kayihura, who led the police for 12 years, mentioned leaving a force of over 46,000 personnel. Despite the retirement of about 500 personnel over the past five years, new recruitments have expanded the force to more than 56,000, according to Kayihura's figures.

Ochola acknowledged President Museveni's guidance to grow the force during a speech in November 2021, stating the force's strength at 52,000. However, in a recent update to Museveni, Ochola mentioned a current figure of 49,928 personnel, including the integration of over 2,000 special police constables (SPCs) into the force.

"The force will now have a staff strength of 49,928 personnel against a population of 43 million. 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 emphasized.

The manpower audit conducted three months ago revealed a significant reduction in police force numbers, with nearly 3,000 officers lost due to desertion and retirement in less than two years. Concerns were raised as audits uncovered discrepancies between recorded personnel and actual physical presence.

A senior police officer, opting for anonymity, disclosed instances where districts reported more personnel than the actual count during audits, prompting the need for regrading disciplined special police constables (SPCs) to address the discrepancy.

Psychologist Prof Edward Bantu, who conducted a mental assessment in 2020, identified emotional support and financial challenges as factors leading police officers to leave the force. He emphasized that without regular counseling, officers working in demanding environments like traffic may decide to quit due to fatigue and stress.

The phenomenon of police officers earning salaries despite being inactive in the force was highlighted in 2019 when it was revealed that over 3000 officers had deserted between 2013. The recent audits underscore the need for addressing retention challenges and ensuring the accurate representation of active personnel in the police force.

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