What's the Kenya Police like?

I hope you don’t need the Kenya police when you’re visiting the country, but here are some facts and tips in case you do have to deal with them. Also see my page about Kenya crime.

Although the Kenya police seem to have improved during the last years, they can still be trigger-happy. There have been cases where the police, instead of arresting criminals, killed them when other options were available.



They normally behave themselves well towards foreigners and travelers, but it’s wise to be polite and cooperative when you have to deal with the police. Greetings, handshakes and general politeness can do miracles sometimes.

Visas

Kenyan police are known to be strict on expired tourist visas. You won’t be the first who has to spend a night in jail because your visa has expired for just a few days. There have been reports of police raiding resorts, guest houses etc. to check on tourist visas. You can renew your tourist visa once, making the total allowable stay on a tourist visa 6 months. All details are on my Kenya visa page.

Police Checkpoints

Being stopped by the police while driving is common. Checkpoints are typically marked by spikes across the road with just enough room to drive around them. Always greet the officer and wait until you are waived trought. If you are accused of breaking some law, remain polite and accept what they tell you. After some lecturing you will normally be let go with a warning.

Bribes

Corruption is still present everywhere in Kenya. Though set-ups by Kenya police for tourists in order to get a bribe seem to be a thing of the past, there may be cases in which a police officer will hint that a little something (a dollar or some small good) will make him look the other way. Never suggest yourself to pay something. If he brings it up, it will be through catch words like ‘chai’ (literally meaning tea) or ‘kitu kidogo’ (‘something small’). You’ll have to decide for yourself how to deal with this.

In unofficial dealings, especially in remote areas, police may sometimes go out of their way to help you with accommodation, food or anything else. It can’t hurt to reciprocate here. Police salaries are very low and many have to rely on some extra income to survive. Just think of them as tourist office staff in this situation.

Phone Numbers of Police Stations

Nairobi (Central Police Station): 020-225685
Mombasa (Central Police Station): 041-225501
Kisumu: 057-23594
Lamu: 042-633120
Malindi: 042-20486
Diani: 040-2229
Eldoret: 053-2032900

Related Pages:

Crime in Kenya
Visa Requirements in Kenya

Kenya Customs

Kenya Travel: Practical Stuff

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