Nairobi regional Police Commander Philip Ndolo has criticised the growing trend where police is forced to improvise separate cells to prevent uninfected suspects and prevent further spread of covid-19 disease.
Patients are isolated in police cells whenever attempts to have them quarantined in government facilities fail.
He spoke after more than twenty suspects were isolated in police stations across Nairobi after testing positive for the virus.
“Suspects who have turned positive of coronavirus in our cells. They should be quarantined in public facilities for treatment,” Ndolo said.
He however blamed the situation on the disconnect among the Kenya Prison Service, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Health in the handling of Covid-19 suspects in police cells.
Seventeen police divisions in Nairobi were overstretched after police arrested a total of 650 suspects last weekend.
“MoH has maintained that its facilities are full, hence cannot accommodate suspects in police custody who have tested positive of coronavirus. Prisons have also restricted admission of suspects after their arraignment, while the courts, being left with no options continue to direct the suspects for remand in police stations,” he added.
Prisons only admit suspects after they are taken back to the police custody and confirmed to be negative of the virus. This adds to other challenges the National Police Service is facing it does not have the capacity to test covid-19.
Ndolo called on the ministry to provide alternative isolation centres for Covid-19 suspects as police will provide security to the centres. He also urged stakeholders to meet and figure out a solution.
Petty offenders are being released on bail or free bond to ease police cells and enable police to observe the social distancing rule to stem the spread of covid-19. Capital offenders are detained in cells before arraignment in court.
He blamed the surging numbers in police cells on the closure of Makadara Law Courts which has halted operations in five police divisions in Nairobi.