A total of 45 security personnel from six West African countries are in Ghana for a three-day workshop on West African Police Information System (WAPIS)that is seeking to harmonise security systems of participating countries, in Accra.
The programme, which is the second phase is aimed at enhancing the capacity of West African law enforcement authorities, to fight transnational crime and terrorism through enhanced police information management sharing. It is being supportedby the European Union Trust Fund for Africa.
Participants were from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, The Gambia, Guinean Bissau and Sierra Leone.
The acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr George Akufo Dampare, who was represented by the Director-General of the Criminal investigation Department (CID), Commissioner of Police (COP) Isaac Ken Yeboah, said the WAPIS programme was made up of 15 countries in West Africa, including Mauritania and Chad as strategic partners.
He said 18,000 convicts and documents have been imputed into the database, and data was continuously being stored and queried by institutions to assist their investigations, leading to an increase in inter-agency cooperation among stakeholders in the fight against crime.
COP Yeboah said WAPIS was formed to create a system for sharing of criminal data among West African countries in order to combat transnational crimes, such as arms smuggling, illicit drug trafficking, piracy and cybercrime.
He said WAPIS Ghana has stakeholders, comprising the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Narcotic Control Commission and Attorney General’s Department.
The Director-General stated that to extend the WAPIS Ghana programme in the country, training programmes were orgainsed for personnel and other stakeholders.
The Ambassador of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Ghana, Baba Gana Wakil, said one of the main challenges in fighting transnational organised crime in West Africa was lack of appropriate infrastructure to collect,store,manage analyse and share criminal data amongst the law enforcement agencies at national and regional levels.
‘’The absence of standing budget in our member states for the continued operations of WAPIS system after the implementation phase ,together with the absence of personal data protection legislation in most of our member states remains issues of concern over the sustainability of this initiative, over time, ’’he added.
He said the ECOWAS Commission has initiated the ECOWAS terrorism Action plan 2020-2024 a key component of action plan focusing on intelligence sharing.
Mr Wakil commended the Ghana Police Service for its commitment to the fight against all forms of crimes in the country.
The Operation Coordinator of WAPIS programme, Mr Akizi-Egnim Akala, stated the programme sought to strengthen law enforcement agencies to share information to help in arresting suspects.
A representative of European Delegation to Ghana, Mr Jean Pierre, commended the participants for taking part in the workshop.
The Second in Command of International Police (INTERPOL) Ghana, Superintendent of Police Naomi Acquah, said the training was crucial since the West African region was plagued with i political instability, increased maritime related crimes, proliferation of small arms and robbery.
BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI