Crime prevention is a collective responsibility of the citizenry and the authorities mandated to do so. It is therefore imperative to be more abreast with community policing concept, the new idea that engages the community in the detection and prevention of crime.
The Ghana Police Service like many others police worldwide has among its numerous responsibilities, the duties to detect and prevent crime, apprehend and prosecute offenders, maintain law and order, protect life and properties and to enforce the laws to provide safe and secured environment for people in the country. To achieve these objectives, the police administration introduced the community policing concept, which in fact is an internationally recognized system of modern policing.
Community Policing is a system of policing that tries to address the root causes of neighbourhood crime with the assistance of the community. It is the involvement of the community in the successful resolution of crime and social disorder. A means of partnership with the community to identify, prevent crime and maintain a sane society. This policy recognizes the community as a stakeholder in the law enforcement process.
It has many benefits when used effectively. It bridges the gap between the police and the public; it brings ownership and inclusion in crime prevention. Community policing also makes the police shift from reactive crime response model to proactive crime prevention due to the good relationship of the public and police, which makes sharing of relevant information possible. It builds trust and mutual respect among the police and the public.
Thanks to successive and current administration of the police service in their quest to strengthen and improve the community policing concept, yet more needs to be done. To achieve a good working relation with the public, there should be trust and mutual respect. The idea of seeing the police as corrupt institution must be outdated and a new vision of hope and integrity must be seen. There must be organizational transformation as started by the current administration.
There should be decentralisation to reduce hierarchal (top-down) directives and give the local police officers powers and discretion to enable them find creative solutions to specific neighbourhood problems without restrictions. At district and station levels, the police should be allowed to identify its specific problems and involve the community in ways of preventing it. The concept should not only remain at the Tesano headquarters.
There is the need for proactive crime prevention as already stated. The police should engage the community partners and share relevant information with them. The new modus of criminals must be made known to the public. There are situations most people victim to the same scam from the same modus, this is an indication of communication gap between the police and the public. There should be public education and sensitization at the local police levels and also solicit feasible solutions involving the community partners.
Community partners include a range of groups such as neighbourhood associations, churches, schools, traditional and opinion leaders, local business, local media etc; these are effective means through which the police can engage the local constituents. There should be a good coordination and cooperation between these entities to promote the ideas of the police through the community policing concept. The police should be accessible to the public to promote effective community policing.