The African Institute for Crime, Policy and Governance Research is urging the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to push for reforms that make the service less partisan.

The institute has also urged the GPS to adopt a training regime that focuses more on providing officers with the skills to interact with citizens in ways that build legitimacy and confidence rather than the current militaristic approach.

With senior police officers often insisting that part of the reason crime is committed with impunity is because of political interference, the institute said globally policing was inherently political but curbed by strong institutions.

“When we speak of political interference, we usually mean policing that is dictated by and serves the interests of partisan politics. This finds expressions, especially at the operational level, such as when investigations, arrests and prosecutorial decisions are dictated by partisan considerations.

“The questions for us then are which of the contenders for IGP has a clear understanding of these challenges? What is it about their record so far that suggests they can even begin to lay out the groundwork to address these challenges?” The Director of the Institute, Dr Justice Tankebe, told the Daily Graphic.

Training reform 

Dr Tankebe said the training reform for the police should start from the point of recruitment and continue throughout an officer’s time in the service.

It noted that policing was a dynamic activity, and officers needed the skills set that allowed them to respond to the challenging environment.

“This necessarily requires leadership that understands that the factors that shape police behaviour are primarily institutional.

“Unfortunately, it is commonplace to hear police commanders attribute police misconduct to ‘rotten apples’ and ‘bad nuts’. That is a mistaken diagnosis. The factors are institutional and that means, among other things, focusing on effective supervision, which is currently lacking.”

No innovation

In an interview that focused on police reforms, professionalism in the service and factors that should go into the appointment of a new Inspector General of Police (IGP), the security expert said the GPS needed innovation.

“There is very little, if any, innovation in policing in Ghana. One of the innovation Ghana needs in its policing is a greater use of evidence to inform decisions about the investigations, allocation of resources and crime prevention.

“I am not here referring to criminal evidence; evidence-based policing concerns the use of the best social-scientific evidence on ‘what works’ to inform police work,” he said.

Appointing a new IGP

He said an appointment that did not have those issues in mind would only compound the legitimacy traps the police face, — traps that arose from lack of innovation and unbridled penetration of partisan politics into policing.

On reforms, he said it was time to decentralise police administration by making each region an independent police service.

He also called for the scrapping of the Police Council, which should be replaced with an ‘independent’ entity. This entity would have a dual mandate of promoting police innovation and integrity and conducting regular inspections of the various police services to ensure every aspect of their operations met clearly outlined national standards.

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