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22.11.2005 General News

Police Service needs other institutions to complement efforts

By GNA
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Accra, Nov. 22, GNA - Paapa Owusu Ankomah, Minister of the Interior, on Tuesday said the Government was working towards improving the current ratio of one Police personnel to 1,113 people. The United Nation recommends a ratio of 1:500.

He said: "It is for this reason that we need other institutions such as the Private Security Organisations (PSOs) to complement the efforts of the Police,"

Paapa Ankomah was speaking at a security dialogue with the Police Administration and the Proprietors of Private Security Organisations of Ghana (APSOG) in Accra.

The meeting on the theme: "Regulating Private Security for Enhanced Contribution to National Development", was to create the platform for the two to brainstorm on a common way to cooperate in ensuring national security and safety.

Paapa Akomah said a lot of concerns had been raised about the operations of PSOs and cautioned that the proposed complementary efforts should not take over the work of the Police Service or other public security institutions.

He said concerns had also been raised about a seemingly free-for-all system where people established and operated PSOs without recourse to existing laws and regulations and stressed the need to vet all employees to ensure that the operators employed no criminal elements.

The Minister announced that a stakeholders' forum would be held before the end of the year to give guidance to the Ministry on how to manage the operations of the PSOs.

He said after the forum, licences of existing PSOs would be renewed and new entrants would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis as a means to eliminate people with questionable character. Mr Peter Awoonor Renner, Chairman of APSOG, said the meeting would enable them to draw attention to contributions of the sector to national security development.

He said it had been confirmed that Police services worldwide were facing difficulties in combating crime, hence the need for PSOs to support them in building a strong nation devoid of crime. Mr Renner said to achieve this objective they needed to address the issues of training, monitoring and supervision to enable them to select qualified personnel to deliver their duties professionally.

A memorandum presented by APSOG to the Minister urged the Government and relevant agencies to facilitate the review of the legislation on PSOs to have conducive regulatory environment. It described as absurd the granting of tax holidays to foreign entrants into the sector while Ghanaians had no such concession. "Taxes and duties on security equipment are a major cost component in private security operations. However, while foreign-owned companies are granted significant tax concessions, supposedly for investing in the country, Ghanaian private security companies enjoy no such privilege placing them at a great competitive disadvantage," it said. Dr K. K. Manfo, Deputy Inspector of Police in Charge Operations, entreated APSOG Executive Council to educate their personnel to respect the laws while discharging their duties.

"You should not arm your men because you do not have the official mandate to operate with such weapons. They may even risk their lives because when the criminals see them armed, they may try to gun them down first before your men try that on them," he said.

He also cautioned PSOs against the detention of suspects and advised that suspects should be handed over to the Police. "These duties do not form part of your work and I want to plead with you to educate your men on your mandate so that they will conform to that."

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