Call for Drastic Reform In Police Service

A lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr Raymond A. Atuguba, has called for a drastic reform in the Ghana Police Service to enable it to perform its duties creditably. He said if care was not taken, the police would be practising "apartheid policing", where citizens' level of security would be determined by their social class. He was speaking at a one-day seminar on "Policing in Ghana" which was organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, as part of its monthly "Reflection on Security" series. He said, for instance, that fewer policemen were assigned to the areas that needed them most, such as Nima and Ashaiman, while people deemed to be more important were afforded private bodyguards. Dr Atuguba said the type of public policing being experienced in the country now was historically determined by the continuity of colonial institutions for the protection of the political and economic classes and the enforcement of the rule of law. He said the Constitution had identified the Police Council as the reformer of the service but reform had been slow in materialising because the council had no reform agenda, was more political than technical and had too few sources of information on the Police Service outside of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP). Dr Atuguba, who has written extensively on reforms in the service, indicated that it must be reformed through "small, smart, micro reforms with macro effects" in which it would undertake manageable tasks and ensure their effective completion. He also called for the "shock-wave methodology" to implement the much-needed reforms in the Police Service, adding that that would entail undertaking reforms, regardless of how politically unpopular they might be, since some political actors might prefer the status quo for the wrong reasons. "We can either think our way into action or act our way into thinking," he said, adding that for him only the second option was viable, since actions spoke for themselves and overthinking would lead to delays, stalling and bickering. Dr Atuguba stated that an IGP who was a reformist could "counter the hegemony of the officers and men" in terms of their desire to maintain the status-quo. That is; an "external change agent" was needed to shake things up because change could not come from within. He mentioned other issues facing the Police Service as image problem which had taken a beating because of bribery, corruption and drug scandals, adding that there was also a severe lack of resources and a "crucial" need for training in the areas of crime detection, evidence gathering and preservation, among others. Dr Atuguba led a study between 2002 and 2005 in which he collected the frank assessments of numerous police officers on a range of topics in order to ascertain the strengths and shortcomings of the Police Service and determine the likelihood of success for various reform strategies. For his part, a former national security coordinator, Mr K. B. Kwatson, indicated that simply appointing a reform-minded IGP would not solve the problems of the police because "there must be political will to reform and the IGP must be given a mandate and guidelines for what he has to do and be subject to an annual appraisal to determine the is fulfilling that mandate because that is the only way to ensure accountability. The seminar forms part of an ongoing series on topical issues of national and international peace and security.