NEWS COMMENTARY: ADDRESSING SECURITY CONCERNS IN GHANA SHOULD BE PROACTIVE AND NOT REACTIVE.
The gruesome murder of MP for Mfantseman, Ekow Quansah Hayford has once again opened discussions on providing armed police guards to Members of Parliament to ensure their safety. Although it may guarantee some safety for the MPs, the proposal can be described as unscientific and not sustainable. Besides, it does not in any way solve the wider issue of insecurity in the country. In fact, criminals are able to successfully target bullion vans carrying cash with armed police escorts and also stage broad daylight attacks against police personnel. This clearly means that the issue of protecting MPs and for that matter citizens of Ghana, requires a broader contextual approach and an analytical insight into why criminals are becoming more vicious and brazen by the day. Statistics from the Ghana Police Service has it that, crime is on the increase in Ghana. Also, in a recent US Department of State travel advisory report on Ghana, it is stated that crime is on the upsurge in the country.
In fact, the report points out that, there are more than 1.2 million illegal firearms in the country resulting in an average of 500 murders annually. It emphasizes that local authorities lack the capacity to confront the threat, and this is a rather worrying situation. Putting these into perspective, dealing with the state of high-profile killings in the country requires a multi-dimensional strategy. It is rather an incontrovertible fact that we have failed to fight modernized crime and investigation in Ghana over the years. We have constricted efficient security management to the procurement and donation of vehicles. But failed woefully in investing in situational crime prevention; deterring crime by making strategic changes to an environment hence, making crime unprofitable. One of the ways this is possible is by investing in crime and investigation. Let us integrate the various biometric databases; passport office, National Identification Authority, SSNIT, among others. Information treasure trove must be made available to law enforcement. Officers who are usually first respondents of the crime scenes must be trained well enough to protect the integrity of the crime scenes, and be able to harvest fingerprints and DNA there to be ran through the database. There should be more investment into DNA technology whiles crime labs are established in every Regional capital of the country. When criminals know there is a higher probability that they would be caught when they violate the law, they will refrain from the practice. This is simply a theory in criminology called “rational choice”.
Mostly, cases sent to court are not water tight enough but based on circumstances because of the lack of empirical evidence. As a result, dangerous criminals are sometimes acquitted, and this must not continue. To scale-up Ghana’s security management systems, there is also the need for awareness creation on the need for Ghanaians to exercise great deal of discretion in ensuring they are safe at the personal and community levels. It is important and very critical that our MP’s undergo regular security audits, and this should include the provision of surveillance systems. Unfortunately, a lot more do not see the need because they feel very confident in the “love” their constituents have for them. Ghanaians are generally not security conscious. We tend to be reactive rather than proactive to security issues. Most of us start investing in security after we have fallen victim to crime. We use the same route home from work even during late hours. We do not double check to ensure our doors are locked at night. We do not pay attention to unusual happenings in our communities. But we must! We ought to put an end to the irresponsibly exposure of ourselves and our families to criminals online. Security is a necessity for our Members of Parliament, but it is even more critical for everyone in Ghana to feel safe. As a people we have the gigantic task and role to play in safeguarding ourselves and our communities from violent crimes. Remember, Vigilance is key!
BY: ADIB SAANI, SECURITY ANALYST AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JATIKAY CENTRE FOR HUMAN SECURITY AND PEACE BUILDING.