The journalists and police personnel who participated in a workshop at the weekend to deliberate on the role of the media in combating organised crime, were unanimous in the view that it was highly successful and fruitful.
Its success lay partly in the underscoring of the fact to both groups that they have a common fight, representing two sides of a coin: one fighting crime in the society, the other holding society accountable.
And there was also the recognition that, as Interior Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah observed, the issues discussed at the workshop, held at Dodowa, were 'so central to the peace and security of the country.'
The workshop brought out clearly a stark message from security consultant Brigadier-General Francis Agyemfra (rtd), a resource person. He warned that the country needs to get a grip, and fast, on the 'rising tide of savagery'.
While some were not comfortable with his assertion that 'armed robbery has reached epidemic proportions,' the evidence he provided and even recent media reports indicate that this view is no exaggeration.
Brigadier-General Agyemfra’s question, 'how did we get to this point?' will no doubt resonate with many people. The next question of course is: what is being done about it?
Among other things, he called for the country’s laws to be given teeth as many of them have been overtaken by the sophistication of modern criminal activities.
And the common thread that ran through all the papers presented at the forum on security was the police’s lack of capacity, inadequate logistics, obsolete equipment and shortage of personnel. There cannot be much comfort in a ratio of one policeman to 1,500 citizens.
The consensus was that given the increasing sophistication and fast movement of the organised crime world, the Ghana Police need to be not only well trained and well equipped, but also well motivated.
It was also underscored that apart from the slowness of the judicial system, it, too is very understaffed and many of the country’s laws are in serious need of updating.
If the workshop served to demonstrate to the 'two sides of the coin' how much they could assist each other, it also underscored that the government needs to be much more proactive about giving the police the required resources to enable the service live up to expectation.
It is understood that Brigadier Agyemfra submitted his concerns and suggestions on the security situation in a paper to Parliament as well as to other relevant authorities some months ago. We highly commend him for this initiative. He has done his part as a concerned citizen.
Our hope and expectation is that the Government and Parliament, too, will do their duty as soon as possible and use the Agyemfra paper as the basis for a deepening and spreading of the ongoing offensive against 'the rising tide' of crime.
And surely none of the security or organised crime concerns discussed at the Dodowa workshop is news to the people in authority. As Brigadier Agyemfra noted: 'We’ve had enough of seminars; action must start.'
We could not agree more. Obviously, strong political will is required and we trust that this will be demonstrated soon.