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Opinions of Saturday, 12 December 2009

Columnist: Ayer, Christina Dina

Include Youth Crime Watch Concept In National Youth Policy

Some months ago, the President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports to expedite action on the National Youth Policy and present it to Cabinet for deliberation.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in its 2008 manifesto observed that Ghana had no National Policy on the Youth to guide and direct systematic mobilization and development of the youth for sustainable national development.

The youth make up a large portion of Ghana’s population, and there is the need for the government to adopt pragmatic youth policy that would embrace all issues affecting the youth.

During the past three to four years, some Ghanaian youth have been noted for indulging in “sakawa” and other occultist activities. Several reports and statistics from the Ghana Police Service indicate that about eighty percent of criminals arrested in armed robbery, rape, stealing, fraud, murder, assault, and other crimes are the youth.

It is obvious that the period between childhood and adult age is very challenging to both parents and the youth themselves. So the youth need proper direction in life. It would therefore be imperative if a programme involving the youth as agents of crime prevention is included in the National Youth Policy.

The National Youth Policy on crime can provide a supportive arena in which the youth can share with policy makers, politicians, community leaders, opinion leaders, and district assemblies, strategies for crime prevention.

In 2004, the Ghana Police Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Youth Crime Watch of America (YCWA) for the two parties to collaborate and develop a comprehensive programme that would empower the youth and adult leaders to proactively work together in the fight against crime.

The Youth Crime Watch idea subscribes to the basic values upon which societies are built. The concept as developed by the Youth Crime Watch of America has a mission of mobilizing and equipping a youth-led movement in partnership with schools and communities, committed to creating a crime-free, violent-free, and drug-free environment.

The Ghana Police Service through its Public Affairs Directorate has been working tirelessly to implement the youth crime watch programme in schools and communities in the country. However, it seems the impact of the programme is not being felt within the various schools and communities in the country.

Information available on the website of the Youth Crime Watch of America indicates that Mr. Benjamin Kwame Tawiah and Ex-Police Chief Inspector Augustine Arthur, formerly of the Ghana Police Public Affairs Directorate were very instrumental in the youth crime watch concept being adopted by the Ghana Police Service. I am strongly advocating that a unit or a desk be created at the Ministry of Youth and Sports to work closely with the Ghana Police Service to make the programme more pragmatic and proactive.

The Youth Crime Watch of America receives support from the government, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and other American citizens. It would therefore be appropriate if the youth crime watch programme is given similar support in Ghana.

I believe that if the concept is adopted as part of the National Youth Policy, the incidence of high crime rate involving the youth would be reduced drastically. I would also wish to urge religious bodies, schools, youth clubs and societies, politicians, traditional rulers, the media, and all stakeholders in youth issues to get involved and promote the youth crime watch concept in all their programmes and activities. Again, the NDC stated in its manifesto that, there will be a District Youth Training and Placement Boards under the auspices of the District Assemblies to oversee the planning and implementation of the Training and Placement programmes of the district. While commending the NDC for pursuing such a noble agenda, I would like to suggest that the youth crime watch programme be included in the curriculum. The Youth Crime Watch of America has noted that challenging and motivating the youth to make their communities and schools safer places is one of the most effective strategies to reduce delinquency.

I firmly believe that if the youth crime watch programme is made part of the National Youth Policy, it would serve as a vehicle to engage the youth as stakeholders in crime prevention, and build a positive bond between youth, adults, and community through educational experiences in safety and health. It can also be used in training the youth on crime prevention strategies, exposure to relevant and effective programmes and practices.

By Sgt. Christina Dina Ayer Ghana Police Service Kumasi-Ashanti.