Crime and Criminal Tracking System Bill, 2015
OBJECTIVE OF THE BILL
The objectives of the Bill are to:
NUMBER OF CLAUSES/PARTS
The Bill has 18 parts including citation.
If the Bill is passed, there shall be…
FLAWS OF THE BILL
Interpretation of “Consultant”: -
Clause 17 of the Bill interprets the term “Consultant” as Richfield Technologies Limited, which shall be appointed under Clause 3 of the Bill (when it becomes an Act). The mention of the name of the Consultant clearly depicts that the Consultant was identified before the Bill was presented to the Senate.
This provision raises two questions – ‘when was the bidding that led to the selection of Richfield Technologies done?’ and ‘which selection process was adopted – competitive or single sourcing?’ A consultancy of this nature should require an open and transparent selection process. Prior identification and selection of a Consultant raises suspicion of bias or conflict of interest.
Change of Consultant: -
A change of Consultant may be difficult in the long run if the name of the Consultant is embedded in the Bill. The implication of selecting a Consultant prior to presenting the Bill for first reading and including the name of the Consultant in the Bill is that, if the Bill becomes law, an amendment will be required before the Consultant can be changed.
GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE BILL
1 Establishment of the Police Central Criminal Registry (“the Registry”): -
There shall be the Registry, which shall through the system, store information and digitalize all records pertaining to – crime and criminals, criminal cases and their progress, finger prints, date of arrest, outstanding warrants and charges, etc.
2 Issuance of Character Certificates: -
The Registry shall require and store information for the issuance of clearance & character for the purpose of obtaining vehicle licenses, driver’s license, admission into the universities, employment in the private & public sector, military & paramilitary, travel visas, renting or leasing of accommodation, sales of firearms, transportation of explosives, etc.
3 Analysis of Crimes Data: -
While the Crime and Criminal Database Tracking System (“the System”) focuses on collecting data related to crimes reported to the Police, the Registry shall be responsible for collecting, editing, and analyzing reported crime data from individuals and all law enforcement agencies nationwide.
4 Networking of the Police: -
The Police Headquarters, State Police Commands, Area Commands and all Divisional Police Stations shall be networked and interconnected. The System shall after its installation, enhance the national security through automation of criminal records with biometric identification information for background security check, crime investigation and prosecution and other allied citizens services.
5 Funding of the System: -
The Police shall appoint a Consultant who shall finance, design, develop, install and manage the robust Crime and Criminal Tracking System (“the System”) on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis for the Nigerian Police, covering:
The System shall enhance national security through automation of criminal records with biometric identification information for background security check, crime investigation and prosecution, etc.
6 Portal for Inter-Security Agencies Connectivity: -
The Consultant shall provide, arrange and implement the integrated secure portal for inter-security agencies connectivity and connection to Embassies for visa application and security background checks (Clause 4).
7 Management of the System: -
The trained police officers shall be responsible for the management and control of the front end of the system, while the consultant shall be responsible for the backend and every other necessary support services to ensure the smooth operation of the System, and the foreign & local training for the technical and operational staff of the Police Force (Clause 5).
8 Purpose of the System: -
The purpose of the system is to provide the investigating officers with technology, tools and information to facilitate investigation of crime and detection of criminals; improve the functioning of police force in various activities in connection with law and order, traffic management, prevention of crime and keeping track of the progress of cases, including the ones in court.
9 Law Enforcement Data Exchange: -
The System shall establish the Data Exchange, which is a nationwide data warehouse developed to provide information sharing service to other law enforcement agencies. The Data exchange enables the user to search, link, analyze and share criminal information on a nationwide basis.
10 Access to Records: -
All criminal records and histories are made accessible to the public, with the exception of most juvenile histories. Criminal history of anyone may be used for background checks for licensing, immigration, international travel and visa, etc.
11 Prohibition of Access: -
The Registry may in special cases exclude members of the public from gaining access to certain information in the public record either for privacy of the criminal, especially when the person is acquitted or it may jeopardize the safety or success of an investigation.
12 Police Character Certificate: -
Where an application is made and the prescribed fee is paid for a background check, the Registry shall, in the absence of such criminal record issue a certificate of good character within 4 weeks of receipt of the application (Clause 10).
13 Refusal of Certificate: -
Where an application is refused, the Registry shall notify the applicant of its reason for such refusal.
14 The system shall be privately funded by a Consultant (already selected and mentioned in Clause 17), on a PPP arrangement with the Nigerian Police with no expense from the government (Clause 13). The investment in the system shall be recovered from the revenue generated through issuance of the character certificate and security clearance; and the sharing formula shall be 90% for the Consultant and 10% for the Police Force.
15 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU): -
The parties shall prepare and enter into an MoU to work out the details such as the time line, from manufacturing of components, assemblage, installation and training to commissioning (Clause 16).
CONCLUDING ISSUES OF THE BILL
Criminality in any country is a big challenge to security, governance and even the economy. In Nigeria today, the upsurge in crime due to economic hardship and other factors, has necessitated an urgent need for more intelligence in the security sector, especially the Police. The Bill seeks to establish a Registry to manage a criminal database, which shall be developed in order to make background checks easier in Nigeria. Clause 17 should be reviewed because inclusion of a Consultant in the body of the Bill suggests that selection had already taken place in accordance to Clause 3 before the Bill is passed into law and the removal of that Consultant would require an amendment (if the Bill becomes law).
The Registry, through the use of a tracking system shall digitalize information and records pertaining to arrest, finger prints, criminal cases, warrants and charges, etc. The Registry shall also be able to issue character certificates for the purposes of obtaining travel visas, vehicle licenses, admission into universities, etc. Landlords may be able to run background checks on prospective tenants and banks could do the same for prospective customers before they open accounts with them. Clause 1(3)(a) – (n) list all that can warrant issuance of a character certificate. Clause 10 requires that an application and a fee are needed to run a background check for a character certificate.
Improving intelligence of the security agencies by maintaining records and data is long overdue in Nigeria. It will go a long way to fast-tracking investigations and aiding arrests – a welcome development to the Nigerian Police Force.