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05.04.2006 General News

Mining and border areas record high juvenile cases

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Accra, April 5, GNA - A report on the State of Juvenile Justice Administration in Ghana on Wednesday said 12,652 juveniles were kept in the cells of the Ghana Police and Prison Service during the past 10 years.

While the Police kept 10,488 juveniles the Prison Service had 2,164. The majority of the juveniles, who committed various offences, came from Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Volta, Central and Brong Ahafo Regions. The report attributed the high incidence to mining and cross-border activities.

The juveniles were between the ages of 12 years and 18 years. The Western Region recorded 2,392 cases; the highest while Ashanti took the second position with 2,340 juveniles in both Police and Prison cells. It noted that the Greater Accra Region though cosmopolitan, recorded fewer juveniles being sent to Police cells and attributed that to "greater awareness of its role in Juvenile Justice Administration, easier access to Police station and the effectiveness of the remand homes.

"There were insufficient crime prevention pr ogrammes and recreational facilities for juvenile in the districts." The finding was made during a survey conducted by the Department of Social Welfare in collaboration with the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF) The Survey, which spanned between 1993 and 2003, covered 10 regional capitals, 588 Police cells, 318 Prison cells, nine remand homes and one Borstal institution.

The report mentioned that though the survey identified 91 juvenile courts nationwide, most of them were not operational in some districts, stressing that even those districts, which had the courts working, did not have regular sitting by panel members because of poor remuneration. "Insufficient collaboration and information sharing among key players contributed immensely to short falls in appropriate response," the report said.

It, therefore, recommended among other things the need to create awareness among the public, especially on the needs of the youth. The report called for designation of some district Police cells to "serve as remand facilities in areas where remand homes are difficult to reach."

The report emphasized the need to ensure sufficient collaboration and information sharing among key players. "Reasonable allowances should be paid to panel members of Juvenile courts to ensure their regular sitting," the report said.