Superintendent Kwabena Otuo Acheampong, Tema Regional Police Crime Officer, on Thursday prescribed that the approach to crime fighting must be aggressive, uncompromising and non-negotiable, “if the country wants to deal with major and violent crimes”.
He noted that in recent times, Ghana had experienced the most violent crimes which were alien to the society, from violent robberies to callous murders plunging the nation in a state of agony anytime news of such crimes were reported in the media.
Supt. Acheampong told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that when people commit minor crimes and are not arrested, investigated, prosecuted and punished, there is a belief that, they will not be arrested when they commit major crimes.
The Tema Regional Crime Officer disclosed that people who commit minor offences have the propensity to commit serious crimes and therefore people must be made to answer to the crimes they commit.
“Wife or husband beaters, people who inflict serious bodily harm to others, those who are cruel to animals could be potential murderers, or thieves. Mobile phone snatchers could be potential bank robbers, students who cheat in exams and commit crimes on campus could be potential offenders in dishonest crimes after they graduate,” he said.
“It is quite unusual for anyone who never committed a minor crime, to wake up one day to commit a serious or violent crime so everyone must answer to the crime they commit,” he stressed.
The Crime Officer said in society, there is the tendency for people who commit road traffic offences, assault, stealing, indecent assault, causing harm, causing unlawful damage, indiscriminate discharge of firearms in town, possession of narcotics, use of offensive weapons, unlawful possession of arms and ammunition and many others, are likely to be pardoned.
He bemoaned the situation where offenders do not answer to the crimes they commit and escape punishment due to interference.
According to him such cases were either settled in the communities unreported to the Police or where it is reported to the police, opinion and influential people intervened and interfere in this cases.
He said, “in some instances, the suspects never get arrested while for those arrested and put before court, similar interferences continue and the courts are prevailed upon to tamper justice with mercy.”
He therefore suggested that Ghana adopts “the Broken Window Theory,” as the effective way to deal with violent crimes in the country.
He explained it is a criminological theory, which simply means, one can only deal with major and serious crimes when minor crimes are tackled.
Supt. Acheampong, said the theory, calls for all players in the criminal justice system, politicians, chiefs, civil society, the media and the public at large to recognize and acknowledge the consequences of violent crimes on society, and allow the law to deal with those who commit them.
He explained that until 1994, New York City was referred to as the crime capital of the world but today, the city is one of the safest to live in, thanks to the then mayor and his Police Commissioner, Rudy Guilliani and Bill Bratton respectively.
He said they adopted the Broken Window Theory which saw a consistent reduction in serious and violent crimes which successive Police Commissioners have continued with corresponding crime reduction for nearly three decades.
He said the theory advocates for a new approach to deal ruthlessly with those who commit minor crimes so that major crimes could be prevented.
He said the implications of the Broken Window Theory are that, Ghana cannot completely deal with the current situation of violent robbery attacks and callous murders, by arresting and prosecuting those involved since that has always been the practice over the years but the situation had not changed.