UK partners with Kenyan police to combat child abuse

By Claire Wanja

Kenya’s first police unit dedicated to the fight against child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) has been launched.

The new unit, established in April by the National Police Service of Kenya (NPS) in collaboration with the UK’s National Crime Agency Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (NCA-CEOP), represents a powerful new weapon in the fight to protect Kenya’s children.

The unit has already been instrumental in safeguarding more than 150 children, and is currently pursuing 15 cases against child sex offenders.

The UK’s NCA-CEOP has worked with the NPS over the last three years to build capacity to protect children in Kenya.

The pioneering CSEA unit is currently staffed by 12 specially selected NPS officers; working with children’s officers, specialist doctors and civil society experts like the International Justice Mission (IJM).

The UK has provided training, equipment and financial support to the unit as the NPS works to build its investigative and safeguarding capabilities.

The CSEA Unit was officially launched at an event held by British High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey, and attended by Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Ndegwa Muhoro, Chair of the Anti-FGM Board, Hon. Jebii Kilimo, Chairperson of the Taskforce on Children’s Matters, Lady Justice Martha Koome, and officials from the office of the Inspector-General of Police.

“We believe that our responsibility to protect children from abuse does not stop at the borders of the United Kingdom.” Said Nic Hailey speaking at the launch.

“I applaud the pivotal role of the NCA in working with Kenyan and other law enforcement agencies to safeguard children and prosecute offenders, wherever they are located.” He added.

Detective Chief Superintendent of the NCA’s CEOP Command, Simon Mason, said: “We’re proud to support the National Police Service of Kenya in establishing this truly innovative unit, and will continue to work closely with its officers.

“International cooperation is vital if we are to best protect vulnerable children and reduce opportunities for offenders.”

Superintendent of Police Grace Ndirangu, Head of the Kenyan Child Protection Unit, said: “This unit changes the way we protect children from sex offenders in Kenya. We’re working across agencies to detect abuse, then investigate and prosecute offenders successfully while ensuring the child’s welfare is at the centre of everything we do.”

The launch of the CSEA unit is the latest step in a partnership between the UK, Kenyan authorities and NGOs to protect vulnerable children in Kenya. It follows the January 2015 Kenyan launch of the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC).