THE Zambia Police Service has bemoaned the current system where juveniles are detained in the same cells with adults who have committed serious crimes, a Parliamentary Select Committee heard yesterday.
Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja, who submitted a document before the Committee on Youth and Sport, said the police command was not in support of the youths and men sharing Police cells because it was not in the best interest of justice.
The document was submitted on behalf of Mr Kanganja by his deputy, Mr Eugene Sibote.
Mr Kanganja said juveniles were being held in the same police cells with adults who had committed more serious offences because of inadequate facilities.
He said some of the juveniles lacked legal representation in courts of law and little effort had been made to reverse the trend.
Chongwe member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo chastised the police command for detaining juveniles in the same cells with adults.
Ms Masebo feared that some juveniles risked contracting diseases in the cells despite being arrested for petty crimes that could have been dealt with outside the criminal justice system.
Katuba Member of Parliament Jonas Shakafuswa wondered why juveniles were being detained in the same cells with criminal offenders when their offences were driven by peer pressure.
“Juvenile offences are due to peer pressure, so instead of holding them in the same cells with adults why can’t you find other better places,” Mr Shakafuswa said.
But Mr Sibote said there were no other facilities which had been Gazetted for holding up offenders apart from the police cells.
Meanwhile, Ikelengi Member of Parliament Elijah Muchima yesterday appealed to the police command to stop effecting arrests on Fridays because it was making citizens spend the entire weekend in cells without being attended to.
Mr Muchima told Mr Sibote, who was appearing before the Committee on Youths and Sports, that whenever an arrest was made on Friday citizens were being made to spend the weekend in cells because police officers were not available to attend to such matters.
“Officers disappear on Friday and only come back the following week, leaving the arrested person unattended too. They are not helping us in anyway but just creating unnecessary congestion in the cells,” Mr Muchima said.
He asked Mr Sibote to monitor and take action against overzealous police officers who were fond of making unnecessary arrests.
In response, the deputy Inspector-General of Police said the command had always been monitoring and observing overzealous officers and appropriate action had been taken.