A case of decreasing police personnel in the Upper West Region has residents worried about their safety.
The region currently has 1,067 police personnel to ensure the security of about one million residents, a situation many residents fear poses a risk to their safety.
The situation has been worsened by the disbandment of some police unit. The Upper West Regional Police Command disbanded the units because, instead of facilitating policing of the communities, the dwindling numbers of personnel means the units strain police work.
The situation has forced police personnel to now perform dual roles, leaving gaps in their operations leading to the increasing crime rate in the region.
For instance, members of the Police Visibility Unit can sometimes be seen seated at junctions dotted every 500 meters apart in the Wa municipality.
Furthermore, tents erected three years ago to shelter members of the various units on duty have deteriorated.
Due to lack of personnel and usage, most of the tents have collapsed and torn into pieces. They are now serving as shelters for animals.
Residents are not happy about the situation.
A member of the Wa Municipal Assembly’s Security and Justice Committee, Iddrisu Muslim, laid the blame on the doorstep of the Inspector-General of Police, David Asante-Apeatu.
“If IGP and his subordinates can transfer personnel out of the Upper West region, why can’t they replace them with the same number, “ he demanded.
“The IGP’s failure to do the needed replacement is undermining the people of the Upper West Region and should not be allowed to continue,” Iddrisu Muslim added.
He expressed surprise about the behaviour of the IGP whom he said once served as the District Police Commander at the then Sissala District.
”I expected the IGP to see the Upper West Region especially the two Sissala districts where he once worked to take them like his baby by paying the needed attention to their security issues. It is surprising since he took over as IGP for over two years, he never stepped foot in the region let alone the twin Sissala districts,” he added.
He wants the IGP to scrutinise and sanction personnel who blatantly refused to be posted to the Upper West Region.
He said if the situation persists residents will be forced on the streets to protest.
”If he is not able to transfer police personnel to the region within two months, we will organise a demonstration, petition the Interior Minister and the President on his conduct,” he added.
Latuo Basin, better known as Sasco, has been teaching for the past 30 years. He is currently at Gbollu which is few kilometres away from Burkina Faso.
He said the recent gruesome murder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Chairman of Daffiama-Bussie-Issa should be a pointer that the police must increase their numbers in the region.
”We are not secured, everywhere you go, there are issues of armed robbery. We cannot travel out of the district, we cannot go into Burkina Faso, they rob us [and] I’m wondering whether the police are there [because] I can’t feel their presence,” he stated.
Sasco is blaming personnel at the national police headquarters in charge of transfers for the decreasing police numbers.
”The man himself at the IGP’s office doing the transfers should be transferred to the Upper West region. How can you employ police personnel paid by the government and they refuse postings to some particular places in the country? If I were the government, no police personnel will stay in one place for more than five years. If you are transferred and he/she refuses, withhold his/her salary or sack him/her,” Sasco urged the government.
The issue of the continuously decreasing number of police personnel in the Upper West is not new to the police administration and the government.
President Akuffo Addo was confronted with the issue in his maiden meeting with religious leaders in the region in 2017.
”There was a time not so long ago when the police had 1,500 personnel here in the Upper West region. Five hundred and eighty-two (582) were transferred out of the region without replacement. In the course of last month, we have begun now to be able to replace them. Two hundred and three police personnel were sent to beef up the security situation here,” President Addo’s announcement was greeted with a thunderous clap from the religious leaders.
The 200 additional police officers the President promised to add to increase the staff strength did not come. Less than 10% of personnel transferred to the region turned up.
A situation which Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, Amidu Chinnia Issahaku, expressed worry about at the 2018 WASSA of the Upper West police.
“They have been transfers of police personnel out of the Upper West region. A total of 107 and only nine have been replaced,” he lamented.
The massive transfer of police personnel out of the Upper West region without replacement did not end there.
Between October 2018 and March 2019 the number of police personnel transferred out of the region without replacement was 197, according to sources.
The last few weeks have also seen the transfer of some 14 police personnel out of the region to Accra to join the Formed Police Unit.
The region now has 1,067 police personnel for the population of close to one million.
Upper West Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Police Service, Inspector Gideon Boateng, has conceded that there is a decrease in the number forcing them to disband some of their units.
He said due to lack of personnel, the Command has now re-strategised and now doing patrols instead of dotting personnel at junctions and other areas for visibility.
Inspector Gideon Boateng noted that despite their low numbers, they are up to the task and are prepared to deal with all forms of crimes.
By: Joy News