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Opinions of Monday, 7 March 2016

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi. Kwaku

There’s a need for a National Crime Prevention Institute

From Voice Of Reason:

The Prevention of crime must be everyone’s number one business.
There are more churches than schools in Ghana. Amazingly, the number of people going to church on Sundays and similar large numbers flocking in and around the mosques are enough indications that Ghanaians should be the first gate keepers in heaven.

Doesn’t logic dictates that religious people should be less prone to crimes? Yet the level of integrity among Ghanaians is very disappointing, if not at its lowest ebb since independence. We have used our religiosity to camouflage our flaws and iniquities.

The more developing we’re the more we commit crimes against our fellow people, nation and even companies or the businesses we work for.
Recently, the Ghanaian newspapers and airwaves have been busy discussing disturbing social phenomena which they call “crime wave”. Judging from the reports of the press, crime has increased in the country in an alarming manner during the last ten years and there is no end in sight.
Jails and prisons are filled to the capacity; the criminal court dockets are overburdened. Rare indeed are the newspapers and news reports not demanding more effective policing, more stringent laws, and more drastic penalties for the detection and punishment of crime. But, nothing is stopping the growth of crime because we put more effort on detection and punishment instead of prevention.
Are prisons our answer to the crime wave?
Before I take you through the pain of talking about the importance of crime prevention, I‘d like to introduce you to the definition of crime prevention:
Crime prevention has been described as “any organized activity aimed at keeping unlawful behavior from occurring originally or keeping such behavior to a minimum and thus avoiding police or court intervention; or any organized activity aimed at deterring unlawful behavior.”
Why the need for a national crime prevention outfit in Ghana?
For many years the field of medicine has been trying to prevent diseases. One might ask why a similar effort has not been applied to crime.
The answer is, there is a great emotionalism associated with crime, and that has hamper our ability to make unbiased decisions and conduct unbiased research to find out the real causes and how to prevent them.But, the time has come for us to deal with it head-on and find permanent solutions to crime— before it’s committed.
However, we shouldn’t forget that crime is not merely a physical problem with one direct cause as are many illnesses. Crime involves complex emotional, physiologic, social, and environmental variables and, therefore, prevention is not simply a matter of developing a ‘vaccine’ or an “antidote’ to crime.
Since crime is a social problem, the police are unable to contain the crime problem within a socially tolerable level by themselves. Therefore alternatives to arrest, conviction, punishment, and rehabilitation of criminals must be sought.
There is a need to recognize that the causes of crime lay within such variables as societal structures ,socioeconomic conditions, schools, corrections, treatment programs, lack of self-disciplines, methods of child-rearing, and the very home environment that parents provide for their children.
Therefore, the field of crime prevention by its nature transcends the bounds of any one discipline. It’s doesn’t fall totally within the bounds of criminal justice system. Even architecture can play a vital role in crime prevention through the design of safer building, using more crime-resistant locks, windows and materials. Therefore the importance of crime prevention measures in the incorporation of building and home designs must be realized by all crime prevention professionals and criminal justice practitioners.
There are other crime prevention disciplines as well that we need to put into the equation otherwise, we will continue to see reactive approach to crime rather than the proactive approach of prevention. Any approach to dealing with crime other than prevention is self-defeating.
The National Crime Prevention Institute (NACPI), I’m proposing will ultimately bring all the elements of crime prevention disciplines under one umbrella in order to set up a better and more effective criminal justice system in the country that can prevent crime instead of fighting crime.
Crime prevention as a field of study and inquiry should not be limited to the most obvious crimes, such as burglary, robbery, and rape, but it should also include the study of other ways through which individuals are criminally victimized. These include such nonviolent crimes as deceptive advertising, medical quackery, confidence games, corruption in government (yes corruption in government), restraint of trade, and other efforts by professional associations to stifle competition and thereby criminally set artificial prices.
In short, the main principles of the crime prevention institute are meant to include circumstances in which the individual is victimized by another individual, group, organization, business, or government, both violently and nonviolently.
Am I crazy? Nope! I’m not smoking anything. It’s just that I’m ahead of my time sometimes. Plus I’m a 20- year law enforcement veteran of the United States of America and I thought my experience there could be used in this country for the benefit of Ghana. But, I forget that I’m in Ghana and no one cares to change the “system”, as long as we’re enjoying the gravy train ride.
Now, I see why this proposal will never see the light of the day in a million years. This will most likely end up in the waste basket at the flag staff House or immediately be deleted from the inbox of an MP’s email .He’s more worried about his re-election prospect than setting up a better system that will force him to live up to the people’s expectations.
Who wants to be bothered with crime prevention tools when we have our private security guards and the old system has created a big hole through which we can dupe the government and individuals?
But, it should be remembered that crime has an effect on everyone and therefore it can’t be controlled without the active support of individual private citizens, schools, businesses and labor unions. Massive community efforts will be required, and law enforcement’s role in these efforts should be to lead, encourage, and assist, but not to take sole responsibility.
Until we meet here again, stay tuned, be blessed informed and educated about issues.
From Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (Voice of reason)
*The author is a social commentator and the founder of Adu-Gyamfi foundation for the disadvantaged Youth of Asuom, in the kwaerbibirm district.