Criminologist Calls For Police Reforms With New Governance System

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Dr. Justice Tankede, a criminologist with the University of Cambridge, is proposing complete reforms in the Ghana Police Service with an overarching police governance system to replace the Police Council.

According to him, a police force that is not sufficiently insulated from politics benefits only powerful actors in society, who incidentally are expected to institute reforms.

The responsibility, he said, now rests with the Ghanaian populace to explore ways to apply sufficient pressure for a police service that is needed in a democracy and stressed that Ghana cannot talk of democratic system with the present kind of police service.

Dr. Tankede made the suggestion on TV3’s Saturday morning talk show, The Key Points when discussing the CID invitation of Ofosu Ampofo, chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the row that ensued.

He argued that history of the relation between police and politics has created serious issues of confidence and legitimacy and noted that until these fundamentals are addressed, nothing will change.

“What kind of reforms do we need so that the police will do their job effectively, fairly and independently?” he queried.

“Policing is political and politicians set the broader strategy but police in partisan politics is a very serious problem.”

According to him, decentralizing the service so that each region has its own police force and the Police Council replaced with a new system will be very an innovate way of addressing the current monotony.

Dr. Tankede asserted that the Police Council has outlived its usefulness because it is full of political appointments and has failed to bring modernism in police work.

“The Council is not a body that is interested in innovation but a country cannot have a police service that lacks innovation,” he said.

He indicated “a new overarching police governance system” to superintend over independent regional police forces would bring greater improvement in police work.

According to him, such governance system should be tasked with two primary responsibilities: to build legitimacy and confidence in the police and provide assistance during investigations; and be able to hold officers accountable.

“We need a body that will initiate investigation almost automatically when there are grievous violations of people’s rights with the aim of punishing the individual officer.”

He maintained there is need to reform the flatness and lack of innovation in the service, warning the challenges with partisan politics and the lack of trust in the police would continue if things remain the same.

“We need these reforms. But if we do not initiate them nothing will change and in fact things might even get worse,” he added.

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