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Manpower audit reveals 2000 'ghost' police officers

IGP Martins Okoth Ochola

IGP Martins Okoth Ochola

A recent manpower audit ordered by the Inspector General of Police, Martins Ochola, has once again revealed that over 2000 police officers have deserted the force but somehow continue earning a salary.

While handing over office to Ochola as the new IGP on March 15, 2018, Gen Edward Kayihura who had been at the helm of the police for 12 years said he had left a force of over 46,000 personnel. Police resumed recruitment in 2019 and passed out a cohort of 4,809 police officers in August 2020 including police constables and assistant inspectors of police. In 2021, police again passed out over 5,000 recruits.

Although police have been retiring nearly 500 personnel on grounds of clocking the retirement age of 60 years and health matters, the two new cohorts essentially put the numbers at more than 56,000 going by the numbers left by Kayihura.

If the police retired about 500 personnel ever since Kayihura’s departure five years ago, the force would be at least 53,000. The first manpower audit was conducted barely two years ago and Ochola confirmed that the total strength of the force stood at 52,000.

“We greatly appreciate the [President Museveni's] wise and visionary strategic guidance you gave us to grow both in quantity and quality. The total police force strength now stands at 52,000 against the population of about 42 million which translates into a police population ratio of 1:832 as compared to last year’s ratio of 1:893,” Ochola said in November 2021.

However, Ochola in his latest brief to Museveni at Masindi a few days ago, said the force’s figures now stand at 49,928 personnel. Ochola said the 49,928 includes the more than 2,000 special police constables (SPCs) who have been integrated into the police force. SPCs are men and women temporarily recruited to man polling centers during the general elections.

“Numerically, 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 said.

Ochola’s latest statistics include the 2,000 SPCs - meaning the force has lost nearly 3,000 officers in desertion and retirement in less than two years. It has been established that the manpower audit conducted about three months ago showed that the police force numbers were drastically reducing.

A senior police officer who preferred anonymity to speak freely said the recent audits revealed that many police officers have been earning salary yet their physical presence remains a mystery.

“There are districts where our records show they have more than 100 personnel but when the audits were done, we found only 83 personnel. No one knows where the 17 went. This is why we were asked to recommend disciplined SPCs to go for a course to be regraded,” a senior officer said.

Psychologist, Prof Edward Bantu, who conducted a mental assessment of police officers in early 2020 said there were several factors forcing police officers to desert the force. Bantu said lack of emotional support and financial woes can force anyone to quit the job.

“If someone is working in traffic where he or she is surrounded by noise and doesn’t get regular counseling, they get tired and decide to quit. Men and women in forces are committed to serving their nation. But once they feel that they not getting enough emotional support, they can decide to quit,” Bantu said.

In 2019, it emerged that more than 3000 police officers had deserted the force between 2013. However, police leadership established that several police officers remain earning salaries even when they are no longer active in the force.


+1 #1 Lakwena 2023-12-02 17:36
In other words, such a large number of desertion and turnover, is because of the Hellish and unbearable working and living conditions of the officers.

Many of them live like rats in their barracks, built once upon a time by the Brits, our former colonial master.

Shame! That must be the same story with the UPDF and Prison Service.
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+1 #2 kabayekka 2023-12-03 18:18
One reckons much of the Uganda public is reluctant to make much comments on such an African political and administration spectacle!

It is unfortunate that crime rate is going up in this country while the police force is reducing!
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+2 #3 kabayekka 2023-12-04 12:43
It is unfortunate that it is the tax payers of this country who are continuously required to foot such dodgy bills.

It is going to be different with such a disoriented police force when national elections get nearer. That number of the police force will be increased tenfold with a higher wage bill to pay for the taxpayers of this country!
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