Ghana close to UN benchmark of policing

In a democratic environment where there is rule of law and where citizens are well aware of basic rights and freedoms, public expectations of the police in terms of security and policing are very high.

Article 200 of the 1992 Constitution clearly spells out the mandate of the Ghana Police Service. It states inter alia that the Police Service shall be equipped and maintained to perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order.

To perform this mandatory function, the service should be adequately equipped to cope with challenges of the times to be able to provide appropriate response any time sections of the public express a sense of insecurity and forestall any unpleasant situation.

The government in the last couple of years has intensified its efforts at positioning the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to adequately respond to contemporary security challenges, putting together various initiatives and interventions to improve the status of the GPS. The numerical strength of the Police Service has moved from 23,204 in 2012 to 30,635 in 2014. This has resulted in a current police-population ratio (PPR) of 1:784 as against 1:1,100 in 2010. Even though Ghana could not meet the United Nations’ (UN) policing standard of one police person to 500 people by 2014, there has been significant improvement in its PPR which has led to an increase in police visibility and accessibility, which are key prerequisites in crime prevention, detection and control. Consequently, the country’s crime statistics dropped by over 5,000 cases between 2010 and 2014 and this downward trend is expected to continue this year and beyond. A total of 1,424 vehicles have also been procured for the police since 2009 and out of this number, 1,089 high performance vehicles were procured for them from 2012 to date, significantly contributing to effective policing in the country and enhancing peace and security in our cities, villages and workplaces. Moreover, 14 Maverick vehicles have been bought to enhance their work while a Marine Police Unit has also been set up to police the country’s territorial waters. This unit is equipped with six modern speedboats. Quite apart from these, other logistics such as bulletproof vests, riot control gear and two modern mobile clinics have also been procured for the police. The service also boasts a modern forensic laboratory equipped with the appropriate facilities and vehicles for crime scene investigation among others. The police need the support and collaboration of the general public in the fight against crime and in making our cities, towns and villages safer and more peaceful. It is no secret that most crimes committed by people are visible to the public and if members of the public who witness such incidents pass on the information to the police, the security agencies will surely deal with them. The days when the police were in place to protect the ruling regime’s interest with its heavy-handed and violent policing approach to situations are over. Instances of police ill-treatment of suspects and sometimes of complainants at some police stations must be a thing of the past. In the present democratic dispensation where there is a heightened civil liberty consciousness among the citizenry, the police should be seen by the public as protectors of the rights of citizens and as upholders and respecters of the rule of law. It has been said that a fundamental part of a modern, democratic and transparent Police Service is accountability to the state, accountability to the community and accountability to the law. It, therefore, behoves the service to recognise the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights of the citizenry as a key factor in the discharge of their duties. The UN has been deploying police officers for service in peace operations since 1960 and Ghana’s contribution to UN missions in Kosovo and Cambodia among others cannot be overstated. It has helped to build and strengthen local police forces in these foreign countries, restoring and promoting public safety and the rule of law. It is hoped that experience gained by the police in these UN peace operations abroad would be brought to bear on their duties at home to bring the Police Service to the level of internationally accepted democratic mode of policing.

Source: Graphic Online

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