On the record

The Inspector General of Police, David Asante-Apeatu, has set his stall out with the sort of bold claim that could beget the question of ‘what has this man who served his first command post in Tumu in the Upper West region, served as a Director with Interpol Headquarters and has a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, been smoking lately’?  The IGP is on the record, with his threat to “transform the Ghana Police Service (GPS) into the best in Africa and one of the top ten in the world, within 4 years”.  It will take a miracle and a Transformation Agenda.

The parameters to measure the most efficient police services in the world include their ‘ability to tackle crime, resources and efficiency, public protection, protecting vulnerable people, implementation of neighbourhood policing, lowest expenditure on them, fewest cops per 100,000 population, fewest shots fired by them in a year and fewest people beaten, shot and killed, satisfaction and fairness and local priorities.’

The top 10 global against whom Asante-Apeatu has dared to benchmark the GPS are: the California Highway Patrol; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the Metropolitan Police Service of England; the Australian Federal Police Service; the New York City Police Department; the People’s Armed Police Force of China; New Zealand Police; the Federal Police of Austria the Garda in Ireland and the Icelandic Police.

Here on terra firma, the GPS has a solid and consistent reputation as being one of our most corrupt public institutions, and we have more than a few. Per CDD-Ghana’s Afrobarometer 6 report titled ‘Trust and corruption in public institutions: Ghanaian opinions’, in the desperate race to tunnel below the pit of negative public perception, in descending order, stepping up to the plate with equal rankings of 62 percent mistrust, were the trilogy of tax officials, local government and the police.

Parliament, the ruling party (then the National Democratic Congress), the Electoral Commission, the president (then John IV Mahama), courts of law and opposition parties (then led by the New Patriotic Party) were in close contention.  The only public institution that public opinion seemed to trust “somewhat” or “a lot” was the military (56 percent) and then informal leaders including traditional and religious types.  Field work to collect the opinions of 2,400 respondent in 177 districts across Ghana that fed the Afrobarometer 6 survey findings, was conducted between Many and June, 2014.  This is Asante-Apeatu’s baseline.

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The United Nations recommends one police officer to every 450 citizens.  Fortunately, we in Ghana don’t mind minor details.   There are some 34,000 serving police officers of various ranks serving across the 11 administrative regions that the GPS has, across the country. Assuming there are 25 million people in this space we call Ghana, that makes a ratio of 1 police person to 735 law abiding citizens working out of 1,079 police posts and stations.

REGIONAL DETAILS

In 2016, the GPS recorded 177,241 cases, down 5 percent from the previous year.  166,839 cases were adjudged as ‘true cases’, 10,402 were refused, presumably for lack of evidence.  Out of the true reported cases, only 29,778 were presented to courts; 8,379 resulted in convictions; 812 cases resulted in acquittals.  At the end of 2016, there were 20,587 victims and their families awaiting for individual cases to be tried; a total of 36,042 cases were deemed closed or undetected.  What is truly disturbing, is that the GPS closed its books of 2016, with 101,019 cases still under investigation.

We are an angry nation with tendencies, in spite of or is it because of the tattered cloak of religious zeal many hide behind?  Nationwide, cases of reported assault went up 6.4 percent to 59,158; stealing was up 10.2 percent to 54,802.  In descending order after that, were reported cases of Threatening, up 14.9 percent; Fraud was up 7.1 percent; cases of Causing Damage to property increased 15.8 percent; the annual record of Causing Harm to persons reduced by 5.3 percent; and there was a reduction of 24.2 percent of Unlawful Entry.

The GPS considers 5 categories of crimes as Major Offences that attract public interest and concern.  These are Murder; Robbery; Rape; Defilement and the Possession, use and distribution of narcotic drugs.  Topline, more Ghanaians were murdered (up 4.6 percent); more Ghanaians were raped (up 10.2 percent), less Ghanaians were defiled (down 17.7 percent), robbery was down 1 percent and less Ghanaians were found be in possession, use and distribution of narcotic drugs (down 2.4 percent).The CID Headquarters in Accra, recorded less murders, less cases of defilement and rape and less cases of robbery. In case you were planning ahead, you should know that ore crimes were committed in January, May and December than any other month during the year, the criminals seemed to take a siesta in August thus giving citizens a well deserved but short respite, from their nefarious deeds.

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Per the order in which information is presented in the 2016 Annual Report of the GPS.  There are 110 GPS posts and station in the Greater Accra region, not surprisingly, given the sheer population density of the capital and surrounding areas, the murder rate went up more than 70 percent (up from 28 to 48); reported cases of defilement decreased 8 percent to 308; reported cases of rape went up almost 6 percent to 150; and robbery spree up 35 percent from 456 to 616. The Tema administrative region has 54 police posts or station; the murder rate there rose by 15.4 percent (up from 13 to 15 cases); defilements in the area increased by 7.4 percent to 131; reported cases of rape rose 8 percent to 27 and reported cases of robbery rose from 173 to 183 incidences.

Akropong and Kyebi are in my hometown space, the Eastern region .  I am not sure if it is a badge of honour, officially, there are more police posts and stations (163) in the region than anywhere else in the country. There were 7.4 percent less murders (down to 63 deaths from 68 in the previous year); a substantial decrease (42.7 percent) in reported cases of defilements from 211 to 121; a significant reduction (21.6 percent) in reported rapes from 51 to 40 and a decrease too of robbery, down to 106 cases from 155.

The crime statistics reported at the 130 posts and stations in the Western region are 14.3 percent less murders (down from 56 to 48); less reported defilements, down 19.9 percent to 149 cases; more rapes, up 17.1 percent (from 41 to 48) and an explosion in robbery up 89.8 percent from 49 to 93.  In the Central Region, the GPS recorded less murders (down 19.4 percent) from 36 lives taken to 29; a marginal 2 percent reduction in defilement from 149 to 146, a 22.6 percent increase in rape cases (up from 31 to 38) and 25.2 percent reduction in robberies (from 103 to 77) reported at the 99 posts and stations.

Across the Ashanti region, cases of murder reported to 158 posts and stations trended up 28.1 percent (from 121 to 155); defilements fell substantially from 266 cases to 156 (less 41.7 percent); incidences of rape increased 25 percent from 48 to 60 cases; and robberies fell almost 30 percent from 147 to 103 cases.  Brong Ahafo has 121 posts and stations.  Across the region, the incidence of murder reported to the GPS increased by 13 percent (up from 46 to 52 cases); figures for defilement dipped from 88 cases in the previous year to 75 ( a 14.8 percent reduction); rape cases were up from 27 to 33 (22.2 percent growth) and robberies increased by almost 31 percent (from 13 up to 17 cases).

The Northern region has 50 posts and stations, at which 50 murders (up 11.1 percent) were reported; a 33.3 percent decrease in cases of defilement were reported (down from 57 to 38) however rapes increased by 50 percent (from 16 to 24 cases)  but robberies fell by 42 percent from 81 to 47 incidences.  In the Upper East, the GPS logged 24 murders (up 33.3 percent); cases of defilement fell by 36 percent (from 25 to 16); however rapes went up 50 percent (from 8 to 12 cases) but robbery declined by a respectable 42.4 percent from 66 to 38 cases. Across the Upper West, the murder rate fell 43.8 percent to 9 reported cases; while cases of defilement went up from 15 to 20 *33.3 percent), incidences of rape declined 7.7 percent from 13 to 12 and curiously, there were exactly the same number of robberies (61) in 2016 as there had been in 2015.

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The numbers must be interrogated and must add up so here goes.  Before you get your knickers in a twist and begin howling about naming and shaming regions and peoples, before you deliberately misapply the published figures of the GPS in some sordid game of equalisations, political or ethnic, consider, if you can, if these reported cases reflect the reality of actual crimes committed, population distribution may be a factor.  Would the distance make a difference to/if and how often particular cases are reported in some regions?

Does the caliber and attitude of the frontline staff who a traumatised victim will have to speak to, matter? Does the unholy interventions that can come from family members, the community, religious and traditional authorities to settle matters quietly, determine if the victim actually steps forward to be counted?

We should also be deeply concerned about the language used the and the depiction of victims as well as those who are accused of crimes by the media.  In all the languages and dialects that we speak, read and write, the media has a responsibility to inform, responsibly.  Do enough citizens, victims and their families truly understand their rights and where and how to legally stand their ground?  Is there an A – Z mapping that can be provided to document step by step, where to go to report what, what should you expect, when to follow up and how?  Who is in the front line of officialdom for victims – is it the GPS, the Department of Social Services, hospitals, the Attorney General’s Department,the National House of Chiefs and Queenmothers, religious leader … how coordinated and effective are their efforts in aligning with civil society to protect, even after harm has been already done?

As part of the Transformation Agenda of the GPS, Asante-Apeatu says he intends to apply the Agile mindset, a framework he and others call “Scrum.”  Basically, it requires focusing on actions and tasks for which results should be delivered within 28 days.  I have signed an online petition originated by Yemesi Louisa Parker-Osei at https:www.change.org that calls on the Attorney General, Ms Gloria Akuffo to end the interference of traditional rulers in cases of sexual abuse and for her to apply the full weight of her department to ensure that offenders are severely punished.

Within 24 hours, 14,000 others too had been sufficiently alarmed at the media reports of a 4 year old girl somewhere in the Central region, and joined the call for determined action by signing the petition. Now, that is Agile. 

I wonder too as we demand for immediate action for this young girl, if in order to actually effect reforms, if we truly understand the complexities of all the institutions involved in preventing, protecting and prosecuting sexual abuse as well as domestic violence, their current processes, do we understand fully where the bottlenecks and challenges are and therefore what it will take to “Scrum” #Justice4Her (and him)?

I am On The Record with this.