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City of Banjul
Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Rise in crime and our police service

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By Emmanuel Daniel Joof
Chairperson NHRC

Gambians are indeed worried about the reported rise in crime in the country and many are proffering advice and opinions. Some of it is based on impulse and emotions leading to them attributing the rise in crime to the exercise of “too much freedom, democracy and human rights by everyoneā€¯. This has led some to advocate for the arming of the police and giving the police more and draconian powers.

It is however better to take a more holistic approach to law and order issues in order to give context to our current predicament and make effective recommendations which will be evidenced-based. Only then can we be better informed on what makes an effective and efficient police force and inevitably how to fight this growing menace of the rise in crime?

An effective and efficient police force typically possesses several key elements:

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Training and education: Officers need thorough training in law enforcement procedures, conflict resolution, de-escalation techniques, and community relations.

Accountability and oversight: The police are given great powers to preserve law and order, including investigating crimes and apprehending and prosecuting criminals protecting life and property.

In effect the police are the guardian of the rule of law and they must therefore also operate within the confines of the law and follow due process. They are not above the law and must operate within the dictates of accountability, including internal affairs investigations and civilian oversight committees, help maintain public trust and ensure officers adhere to policies and standards.

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The TRRC findings have shown us the dangers of having a police and security service that is not accountable and I say no more on the issue. Go look at the findings and recommendations of the TRRC on our security personnel and those named and mentioned in the TRRC Report.

Resource allocation and good remuneration package: Proper allocation of resources, including personnel, equipment, and technology, helps police forces respond to and prevent crime effectively. If the police are not adequately resourced and given good pay and allowances and so forth, they will not be motivated and we also run the risk of putting them in position where they will be compromised, bribed and corrupted. Criminal gangs are powerful so are drug barons and international crime syndicates who have a lot of money at their disposal.

Community engagement: Building strong relationships with the community fosters trust, cooperation, and information sharing, which are essential for effective policing.

Use of technology: Leveraging technology such as body cameras, surveillance systems, and data analytics can enhance operational efficiency, improve evidence collection, and aid in crime prevention and investigation.

Proactive policing: Implementing strategies like community policing, predictive policing, and problem-oriented policing can help address underlying issues and prevent crime before it occurs.

Professionalism and ethics: Upholding high standards of professionalism, integrity, and ethical conduct is crucial for maintaining public confidence and ensuring fair and just treatment for all individuals.

Continuous improvement: Police forces should regularly evaluate their strategies, policies, and practices, seeking feedback from both the community and internal stakeholders, to adapt and improve their effectiveness over time.

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