“Crime is a menace and to combat it we need to think globally yet act locally”
Reverend Charles Masambuka
On Tuesday, 23rd June, 2015 Citizens for Justice attended the Malawi Police Professional Standards Seminar under the theme Enhancing Community Confidence and Perception organized by the Malawi Police Service in conjunction with the UK Government which took place at Sunbird Capital Hotel from 08:30 am to 4pm. The aim of the seminar was to garner long-term support and advice from civil society organizations, NGOS and international partners in raising the level of police professional standards in Malawi in order to enhance community confidence and perception.
The Malawi Policing Improvement Programme (MPIP) is a two year initiative to help improve public satisfaction with the responsiveness and accountability of the Malawi Police Service (MPS). The programme is being implemented by Adam Smith International (ASI) with a team of long-term and short-term technical advisers. The programme recognizes the importance of both the demand and supply dimensions of public accountability and engages closely with the community groups and civil society, alongside internal reforms to the MPs.
Among those present was the Deputy Inspector General of the Police, Retired Judge Singini, Senior Superintendent Panji Tembo, Associate Proffessor of Law Mwiza JO Nkhata, International Law Enforcement Adviser Dick Barton and Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Reverend Charles Masambuka.
In his opening speech, the Deputy Inspector General said this seminar was postponed in February due to floods and it currently comes at an opportune time as a lot has happened involving members of the police service and the general public. With the support of the general public the Malawi Police can reach its goals and effective professional standards are an enabler to reach these goals. Malawians have the right to be policed with consent and to participate in matters that affect them and their families.
Professor Mwiza Nkata gave a keynote Address on Ethics in Society. He said Malawi is a democratic state as per the constitution and the Malawi Police is a constitutional creature under Section 152. All persons must exercise their constitutional powers by trust and to the extent only of the limits stated by the constitution. He emphasized though that police officers work in challenging environments and we have to distinguish between corruption for greed and corruption for need. It is hard to stick to work ethics if the work environment is not so satisfying.
Police is an essential feature of the government. The manner which the police is established by law could either boost or deter its independence. Regardless of the extensiveness of the power held by the police, professional standards must be observed at all times. Ethical policing requires policemen to look beyond simple things such as influence.
Dick Barton gave a presentation on Professional Standards as per the UK perspective. He said the problems of corruption among police officers are a global issue and we need to learn from each other on how to deal with them. He shared some professional standards tactics such as Professional Standards Reporting, Integrity checking, vetting and the “Need to know” Principle.
Reverend Charles Masambuka a reverend of the Church of the Central African Presbyterian and is responsible for the care of 11,500 Malawi Police officers and their families. He spoke on the importance of spirituality in working as a police officer. Once ones spirituality is in check it is less of a challenge to act in morally and ethically acceptable ways. Every now and then counselling helps the officers to keep their integrity in check.
Last to speak was Senior Superintendent Panji Tembo and he presented on Malawi Police Professional Standards Unit: A Strategic Approach. He said for the goals of the Professional standards Unit to be achieved, a strategy was necessary. We have to find a strategy that fits our context as Malawians.