Ensuring a safe community is very crucial for socio-economic development and enhancing peace and stability in every country.
A safe and secure society is an important foundation for the delivery of other key services.
Crime prevention can reduce the long-term costs associated with the criminal justice system and the costs of crime, both economic and social. It also can achieve a significant return on investment in terms of savings in the cost of justice, welfare, health care, and the protection of social and human capital.
Community safety and security is essential for sound economic growth through continuing business investment as well as community well-being and cohesion.
International experience has shown that effective crime prevention can both maintain and reinforce the social cohesion of communities and assist them to act collectively to improve their quality of life.
Without law and order, there would be anarchy which would subsequently result in the increase of lawlessness and instability.
To stem crime, there is the urgent need for the continuous police-public partnership for the flow of information that can help in preventing crime or arresting criminals.
Crime prevention is a shared responsibility and all hands must be on the deck to promote a safety environment to enhance security for people to go about the daily activities without fear.
Globally, crimes have become sophisticated, where cases such as murder, rape, robbery, kidnap, assault and burglary are recorded daily by the security agencies.
As citizens, we must not be spectators but be involved in ensuring our communities are safe by providing reliable information to the security agencies for prompt action.
It is time we all became our brother’s keeper to ensure everyone is safe from any threat.
We, the citizens, live in the communities and know suspicious people who might be criminals.
The police cannot be everywhere and so need the collaboration of the public in crime prevention.
There had been instances where crimes such as robbery, murder and kidnapping have been foiled due to timely information provided by the public to the police and used as intelligence. This has helped to clamp down on such heinous crimes where suspects have been arrested and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
The Acting Director General of the Police Public Affairs, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kwasi Ofori, once stated that continuous collaboration between the police and the citizenry was crucial to prevention of crimes in the country.
‘’Improved policing is a shared responsibility and getting the people in the communities involved is crucial,’’ he said.
He said since the citizenry knew the problems of their communities and the criminals, such collaboration could help reduce the crime wave.
“The police cannot be everywhere in the communities and such partnership is very important in crime prevention in our societies,’’he added.
He said as part of efforts in promoting police-public relationship in the country, the Police Administration had embarked on series of training, including transformation and civility, to sensitise personnel to promote the image of the service and win back their confidence.
ACP Ofori said the police had recently engaged with some stakeholders like faith-based organisation, civil society organisations, members of the media, and the creative arts industry to promote collaboration between the police and the public.
He said community policing, in which personnel visit schools and communities to interact with the people was also promoting collaboration.
‘’Members of the communities have continuously been engaged through training of members of Neighborhood Watch Committee to serve as volunteers and report criminal and suspicious activities to the police, ’’he added
ACP Ofori assured the public of the continuous efforts of the police in ensuring proactive policing through the collaboration with the public.
He urged the public to collaborate with the police by providing reliable information to them on criminal activity in their communities and assured them of their confidentiality.
The Director of the Community Policing Department, ACP Wilhelmina Laurencia Akorli, stated that to improve police-public relationship, educational programmes have been implemented for the public to provide intelligence on criminal activities.
‘’As with public education initiatives, communities also provide the police with an opportunity to gain public support for specific initiatives, as they are able to explain issues and give public access to the police to share ideas on security and together find solutions, ’’She added.
A resident of Dome in Accra, Mr James Out, explained to the Ghanaian Times that already, the police had been calling on the public to help them combat crime, for instance, by giving tip-offs when crime had been committed or give information that could help prevent it.
He added that the police also advised the public about what to do to stay safe from criminals and that those two areas pointed to a partnership between the police and the public
“As a citizen, I have been giving tip-offs that can help to arrest suspected criminals.
“I also have to prompt the police to any activities of suspicious characters to help the police foil planned crimes,” Mr Out said.
A resident of Anyah in Accra, Mrs Janet Amponsah, said corporate organisations could support the police by supporting their activities such as training with logistics to help in achieving their mandate, thus protecting lives and property.
She said Government alone could not provide for the Service and so it needed the support of the public.
Mr Hayford Ansah, a resident of Kasoa Galilea, stated that landlords must always ensure they did background checks of their prospective tenants before renting out their properties to them.
They must also inform the police about suspicious characters for prompt action.
He said recently, the police in the Central Region, precisely Kasoa, expressed worry about the number of foreign nationals in the area engaged in criminal activities, saying these were people living in rented apartments,“so a little investigation about tenants goes a long way in exposing criminals.”
Mr Ansah said some of these foreigners entered through unapproved routes without going through the necessary processes at the GIS and so when they committed crimes and absconded, locating them became a problem.
Ayishetu Adams,a trader at the Mallam Market,said it was very necessary for the police to have frequent engagement with various community members in efforts to keep the populace abreast of information on safety tips, self-defense mechanisms and the need to volunteer information about criminal activities within their communities to security personnel.
The public, she said, must also be given assurance by the police that when they provide information about suspected criminals, their identity will be protected.
BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI