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Opinions of Sunday, 25 October 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

Propping the PIPS

It is spirit-lifting to learn that the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards (PIPS) Directorate will soon overcome its office accommodation constraint – a challenge which has impeded its smooth performance over the years.

The sod-cutting ceremony yesterday at the Nima Divisional Command yard offered us an opportunity to turn the spotlight on the Directorate. Being a critical segment in the law enforcement department’s efforts at maintaining internal discipline, not doing so cannot be an option.

While its place in the enhancement of law enforcement as the IGP noted in his speech cannot be overemphasized. There are shortcomings which must be addressed if its long term objectives must be achieved.

There is little or not enough publicity about the directorate – a shortcoming which has made it impossible for most aggrieved persons to seek redress, even when such persons have genuine cases against bad cops.

COP Joana Osei-Poku’s statistics of cases handled by her outfit, it is our position, could have even been more, had members of the public known about its existence and how to access its services instead of just “leaving everything to God” when they are shortchanged.

Even when the ceremony was taking place yesterday, one of the guests was overheard asking another person what PIPS stands for. Indeed, if an educated person is limited in his knowledge about such an important directorate, it can only be conjectured the situation among those who are not educated and are intimidated at the sight of police officers.

It would be in the interest of law enforcement and the general public if a deliberate programme is unfolded to educate Ghanaians, especially the vulnerable, about PIPS and how to access its services.

The duration of cases lodged with the directorate is another factor worthy of consideration when its overall performance is being reviewed at the end of the year, with a view to ensuring that complaints do not suffer undue delay. After all, one of the functions of the PIPS is to ensure that cases do not suffer undue delay in the hands of bad investigators.

Complainants should be given the opportunity to express themselves about their satisfaction or otherwise regarding cases lodged with the directorate.

In last Wednesday’s edition of this paper on page 15, the story of a cop who defiled a 12-year-old girl in Accra and impregnated her was revisited.

L/Cpl Emmanuel Bartels, according to the father, had vacated the house in which he was living as a tenant and could not be traced. The teenager has delivered; her life now in a mess. The matter, the father said, had been lodged with PIPS but he fears nothing would come out of it. This is a clear case of an aggrieved person perhaps erroneously thinking that his case has been abandoned. There should be a mechanism to do adequate follow-up on cases.

Until COP Joana Osei-Poku’s dream of decentralizing the services of PIPS comes to pass, and all the eleven police regions have offices, complainants will continue to travel long distances to Accra to seek redress.

It is our hope therefore that the Police Administration would expedite action even with their limited purse, to pursue this dream so that law enforcement would perform to the satisfaction of Ghanaians.