Police officers stationed at crime prone areas and road intersections in Accra and Tema in what the Police administration refer to as ‘Police Visibility’ strategy are extremely angry, describing their conditions as “inhumane”.
In the new strategy introduced by the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan, Police Officers (both male and female) are made to brave scotching sun and rain everyday in an eight-hour shift to deter crimes.
Several of those who spoke to DAILY GUIDE on condition of anonymity claimed they have suddenly started frequenting hospitals to correct debilitating back pains, skin diseases and other strange ailments caused by standing stationary all day at their outdoor posts.
The Acting Director of Public Relations of the Ghana Police Service, DSP Cephas Arthur, conceded that there might be problems with the new unit.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if at the initial stage, it brings some kind of hardship or some difficulty to personnel,” he told DAILY GUIDE in a telephone conversation on Wednesday.
“We don’t doubt the fact that personnel who are engaged in it would experience certain concerns. They are issues that administration envisaged and have in mind to solve in the cause of its operation.”
The officers constituting both older officers and younger ones who passed out from the Police Training School within the past year, are hinting at mounting street protests to drum in their grievances, but DSP Cephas Arthur dismissed this plan saying it was against police ethics to hit the streets.
“They don’t have any way out, they don’t have any means to protest, the only thing they can do is that we have what we call welfare meetings and forum where they can bring their concerns,” DSP Arthur told DAILY GUIDE in a telephone conversation on Wednesday.
The new unit runs three daily shifts; Morning (6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), Afternoon (1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) and Night (9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.).
Even though the officers are required to work continuously for five days and break for two days, this has not happened, leading to regular breakdown of the personnel.
Reports said some of the police patrol men have become regular visitors at the Police Hospital with some always going for excuse duty.
The police PRO conceded this, saying it was due to the lack of requisite manpower: “I know that when it is if full flight, after five days of duty, they take two days off-which is not like our traditional policing. I know people have not been able to take the two days off yet. Because we haven’t gotten enough personnel for it that aspect hasn’t taken off,” he admitted to this paper.
Apparently, the Police Visibility would become a permanent feature of policing in Ghana.
“It is a permanent operational strategy that has been introduced and a whole department has been opened for it,” says DSP Arthur.
The Police PRO told DAILY GUIDE that when initiating the new unit, IGP Alhassan anticipated the difficulties that his men would face. “When the current IGP was introducing it, he said that we are bound to see some challenges and that we are not going to wait till eternity to find solution to every problem that might emanate but he will introduce it and along the way, he would be solving them [the challenges] gradually until he perfect it, that is why he didn’t start it nationwide,” he said.
According to him, the police administration knew that these issues would come up and they would be tackled “one by one”. “It is not as if the administration doesn’t care about its personnel, we care and so such issues will be taken up one by one,” he said.
He advised angry officers to channel their displeasure through their unit commanders who are expected to, in turn, place the complaints squarely on the laps of the police administration: “There is a need for them [the personnel] to tell their commanders the issues that they are coming up against so that they would all be collated, discussed, and analyzed so that solutions would be found.”
Since the new measure commenced, the general public has expressed mixed reactions to the conspicuousness of the police; while some people thought it was a good thing, some dismissed it as ineffective because knowing that police officers were constantly stationed at one point, criminals would only need to take their nefarious activities through different routes.
DSP Arthur disagreed with critics: “It is not as if these people are there stationed at one point and then criminals would evade them by taking other routes. This is not to say this is a static thing that people can beat. It has its own target and its own purpose.”
He told DAILY GUIDE that the unit only served to complement all other police patrols: “This is not a kind of snap check…it is to serve as deterrent zone for criminals. Aside this special duty, we have the usual patrol where our personnel are patrolling in vehicles…So it [the Police Visibility] is a complementing kind of strategy. One is complementing the other.”
“Already, it has received a popular acclaim from the general public…The fact is that people have appreciated that aspect of policing,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the police service has not conducted any scientific research to judge the effectiveness of the strategy, but is confident that the initial responses are welcome.
“We haven’t conducted any scientific survey yet as to the impact, but on the surface, one can say that the complaints that we receive don’t indicate crimes occurring in those areas any longer. This is not a scientific approach; it is what we have identified and observed on the surface,” stated DSP Arthur.