Stealing a vehicle in Nairobi and Mombasa cities is now more difficult, thanks to surveillance cameras mounted on the streets. Between September and December last year, 69 vehicles stolen by criminals during robberies and carjacking within Nairobi were recovered in less than 24 hours. Police have attributed the recoveries to the new system, which uses number plate recognition technology to identify stolen vehicles.
The National Secure Communication Network and Surveillance System currently have 1,466 cameras installed in Nairobi and an additional 344 in Mombasa. However the network is expected to extend to other parts of the country soon. According to a State House document prepared by security officials, the quick recovery of the vehicles was “largely on account of the use of the number plate recognition technology and the use of cameras, and the speed with which officers respond to crime”.
Besides checking on motor vehicle theft, the system is aimed at curbing other serious crimes such as robberies, burglaries and terrorism. The network of surveillance cameras is connected to monitors that are watched round the clock at the police headquarters. Besides the cameras, police officers have also been given modern hand-held digital gadgets to replace the walkie talkies. One in every four officers in Nairobi and Mombasa has the digital device. These devices are capable of supporting 3,000 interactive connections at any given time. Currently there are 7,600 devices in the hands of officers, 600 in vehicles for response units and 1,000 fixed devices. Some 10,000 officers have already been trained on this new technology.
The Inspector- General is working on a new command structure that will run the National Secure Communication Network and Surveillance facility to ensure that the police rely more and more on technology for purposes of improving services to the people from a security point of view. County police commands have also been connected to the digital communication network. The counties now have a new radio communications network and a digital network. The entire analogue network has been retired.