Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

Kenya: The police service, including chain of command, officer ranks, badge identification, police headquarters and stations

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 29 October 2003
Citation / Document Symbol KEN42148.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kenya: The police service, including chain of command, officer ranks, badge identification, police headquarters and stations, 29 October 2003, KEN42148.E, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Twenty-four years of Kenyan African National Union (KANU) rule and the presidency of Daniel arap Moi came to an end in December 2002 when the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), led by Mwai Kibaki, won the presidential and parliamentary elections (Freedom House 16 June 2003). Among other issues, the new leadership promised to tackle corruption and police reform (Daily Nation 19 Feb. 2003). However, such large-scale and fundamental change is taking time to implement, as seen in the Kenya Human Rights Commission's (KHRC) assessment of NARC's first 100 days in office, which expressed dissatisfaction with the government's anti-corruption campaign and its limited efforts to control the actions of the police and security forces (9 Apr. 2003). Therefore, although dated, a chapter on Kenya's security forces is attached. Taken from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) 1991 report entitled Kenya: Taking Liberties, it provides an overview of the positions and responsibilities of the various levels of authority in the security forces that were in place during the Moi era.

Another dated source – the country report entry for Kenya in the 1993 World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems – lists three branches of the Kenyan police force: the Regular Kenya Police, the Administrative Police and the General Service Unit. Details of each branch is provided as follows:

The Regular Kenya Police are the general duty police in charge of law enforcement and traffic control. The Administrative Police are mainly responsible for law and order in the rural areas where the Regular Police cannot reach. Administrative Police Officers are recruited from the communities in which they serve and work under a District Commissioner, who is accountable to a Provincial Commissioner. The General Service Unit (GSU) is a mobile police force that is separately organized from the rest of the Kenya Police. It is a paramilitary police force used for the apprehension of dangerous, syndicated, or armed criminals (WFCJS 1993).

In addition to the three branches listed above, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002, lists two additional branches of the Kenyan police: the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) (31 Mar. 2003). However, in an October 2002 presentation by the Kenya Police Force at the 7th Course on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which was held at the International Cooperation Training Centre in Korea, Gedion Mutua, the Kenyan delegate, stated that the Kenya police force is divided into three branches – General Duties, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and General Service Unit (GSU) (KPF Oct. 2002, 1). Mutua also explained that the force is separated into district and provincial divisions, of which there are eight (ibid.). Other formations include the airport police, railway police and airwing and training centres (ibid.). According to Mutua, Kenya maintains 240 police stations and approximately 35,000 police officers (ibid.).

The Kenya Police Force is headed by the Commissioner of Police (ibid.), who also acts as the Chief Administrative Officer (WFCJS 1993) and who is based at the Kenya Police Headquarters in Nairobi (ibid.; UNON n.d.). The Commissioner reports directly to the President, who has the constitutional authority to replace the Commissioner at any time (WFCJS 1993). Senior Assistant Commissioners are in charge of the Provincial Sub-Headquarters, Nairobi Capital Territory and the Divisional Police Headquarters (ibid.). Other positions include two Deputy Commissioners, Chief Inspectors, Inspectors and Non-Commissioned Officers (ibid.). On 12 February 2003, Edwin Nyaseda was appointed by President Kibaki to the position of police commissioner (Daily Nation 21 Feb. 2003) and has since proposed that the Kenya Police Force be renamed the Kenya Police Service to suggest a more people-friendly image (ibid. 25 May 2003).

In its security and safety service telephone directory, the United Nations office in Nairobi (UNON) lists the Kenya Police Area Headquarters, the Diplomatic Unit, the Police Headquarters and the Flying Squad (n.d.). The directory also includes phone numbers of seven divisional police stations: Central, Gigiri, Kilimani, Embakasi, Kasarani, Langata and Buruburu (UNON n.d.).

In 27 October 2003 correspondence to the Research Directorate, the Executive Director of the Youth Agenda (YAA), a Nairobi-based youth oganization that promotes youth involvement in government processes (FES 21 May 2003; see also KEN39747.E of 25 November 2002), provided the following information regarding the police force's chain of command:

Gazetted Officers

1. Commissioner of Police

2. Deputy Commissioner

3. Senior Assistant Commissioner

4. Assistant Commissioner

5. Senior Superintendent

6. Superintendent


1. Chief Inspector

2. Inspector

3. Cadet Inspector

Subordinate Officers

1. Senior Sergeant

2. Sergeant

3. Corporal

4. Constable

The Executive Director explained, in addition, that there are non-uniformed volunteer officers known as the Police Reserve who are called upon when required (YAA 27 Oct. 2003; see also Daily Nation 25 May 2003). He added that the police are identified by badge number and are required to wear their badges while on duty (YAA 27 Oct. 2003).

Additional information on the above-mentioned topic could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 28 Oct. 2003]

Daily Nation [Nairobi]. 25 May 2003. Stephen Mburu. "It's a Tall Order as NARC Administration Grapples with Big Threat to Law and Order." [Accessed 28 Oct. 2003]
_____. 21 February 2003. Stephen Muiruri. "Soft-Spoken Police Chief is a Career Crime-Buster." [Accessed 28 Oct. 2003]
_____. 19 February 2003. Mwai Kibaki. "Kibaki: Second Liberation Has Begun." The Full Text of President Kibaki's Speech at the State Opening of the Ninth Parliament. [Accessed 29 Oct. 2003]

Freedom House. 16 June 2003. "Kenya." Freedom in the World 2003: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberities. Edited by Adrian Karatnycky et al. New York: Freedom House. [Accessed 23 Sept. 2003]

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). 21 May 2003. "Youth Agenda." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2003]

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Nairobi. 9 April 2003. "The First 100 Days: A Report Card on President Kibaki and NARC." [Accessed 23 Sept. 2003]

Kenya Police Force (KPF). October 2002. Gideon M. Mutua. "Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice." Presented at the 7th Course on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, International Co-operation Training Centre, Korea, October 2002. [Accessed 28 Oct. 2003]

United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). n.d. "Security and Safety Service." [Accessed 23 Oct. 2003]

World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems (WFCJS). 1993. Obi N. I. Ebbe. "Kenya." United States Department of Justice. Washington, DC. [Accessed 27 Oct. 2003]

Youth Agenda (YAA), Nairobi. 27 October 2003. Correspondence sent by the Executive Director.


Human Rights Watch (HRW). July 1991. Kenya: Taking Liberites. "Security Forces." An Africa Watch Report. pp. 83-99.

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Defense and Foreign Affairs Handbook

Keesing's Record of World Events

Political Handbook of the World

The Kenya High Commission in Ottawa and FIDA-Kenya were unable to provide information on the above-mentioned topic within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including:

Africa Online

Amnesty International (AI)

BBC Africa

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC)

East African Standard

Human Rights Watch (HRW). December 2002. Vol. 14, No. 10 (A). "Kenya's Unfinished Democracy: A Human Rights Agenda for the New Government."

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

International Centre for the Prevention of Crime

International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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