Fighting Armed Robbery In Ghana



Armed robbery is a form of robbery which involves the theft of property and carrying (or the pretence) of a weapon.

wpid-armed-robbery-300x225.jpgIt is considered a higher category of offense relating to theft and use of force. Even though many of the elements of theft, robbery and armed robbery are interwoven or overlap, an armed robbery conviction carry a much higher harsher and tougher consequences.

Many of our compatriots have lost their lives through robbery attacks including some prominent public figures, journalists, celebrities, politicians and ordinary members of society.

For us to succeed in combating this form of crime, we must do a little more as citizens and security personnel to meet the robbers on the way before they strike. Every single life matters and no single soul in Ghana deserves to die through the gun of armed robbers.

Robbers have no friends, family, political party or teams they support. It is their business to steal and deal with their victims if things don’t go according to plan, they will most of the time kill their victims. Robbers don’t care a hoot about who you are in society, once they have “something with you” they will come for it when you least expect them to come.

Armed robbery according to the criminal code of Ghana Sec 150 is defined as “A person who steals a thing is guilty of robbery if in and for the purpose of stealing the thing, he uses any force or causes any harm to any person, or if he uses any threat or criminal assault or harm to any person, with intent thereby to prevent or overcome the resistance of that or of other person to the stealing of the thing.

Robberies come in various forms including bank robbery, residential robbery, car high hacking, piracy(robbery at sea) market robbery, highway robbery etc.

Growing up in Tamale as a young boy, I always thought that accidents and armed robbery were a “Nigerian thing” because of the stories I use to hear about how people got knocked down on busy roads in Nigeria and never got picked up by anybody until their bodies become like “powder” on the roads as a result of the continues nonstop passing of the cars.

Like the accident stories, there were also stories of how armed men in Nigeria could stop just anybody, block busy streets and rob people of their personal effects and money in broad daylight without anybody blinking an eye or coughing.

How such behaviors got free visa into other neighboring countries including Ghana is something that appears to me like a complicated jigsaw puzzle, difficult to solve.

Sometimes I assume it could probably be as a result of the proliferation of Nigerian movies across the west African sub region because of the depiction of such scenes in their movies. But as things stand now, there is no scientific basis or correlation to support this kind of thinking and so I will leave that to future academic research to resolve.

Armed robbery is caused by multiplicity of factors including;

Increase in drug use and abuse.

Unemployment and idleness.

Increase in promiscuity.

Broken homes.

The breakdown of the extended family system.

Increase in slums and the resultant bad conditions and hardships therein.

Poverty amongst the youth.

Influx of foreigners.

Lack of parental control.

Armed robbery statistics in our part of the world looks scary sometimes but it is good that in the last several years they are on a steep decline nationally mainly due to the efforts been put in place by the security agencies to fight the menace.

The following are things to consider whether by the police themselves or the general public in fighting robbery.

1. There must be adoption of modern tactical approaches to fighting armed robbery.

2. Stop and search operations should be introduced with the tacit support of the general public, which as much as possible, must be regular and random at public places, isolated routes and areas, highways, forest areas, bars and lorry stations frequented by suspected criminals.

3. Intelligence gathering is the name of the game and so intelligence gathering must supercede visibility. The detective units must be empowered to engage in more bracing information gathering about criminals and their modus.

4. Operational commanders must be careful with okro mouth policemen and double agents as some of our men may be compromised or working in the interest of armed robbery squads who might have facilitated their recruitment into the service.

5. We must be careful of bogus informants and the information they bring to you.

6. We must be ready to buy “relevant information” from informants.

7. Those who bring us information must be protected so that we don’t expose them to danger.

8. Policemen on highways should not be too obsessed with only motor check and searching of cars and passengers alone on such roads but must extent it to cover pedestrians occasionally at random intervals.

9. Motorbikes should not be spared and we should always be curious when we find two young energetic young men on motorbikes at obscure locations at odd hours.

10. Criminals are one of the most “innocent” looking individuals you can find anywhere in the world and so we must be careful of people who portray innocent faces to us.

11. Stay alert, whenever there is a suspicion, there certainly must be a report to the police.

12. Always be careful of the next person sitting beside you in a vehicle, he could be your nemesis.

13. It is not a crime to suspect anybody -suspicion prolongs life. Let your instincts guide you.

14. Always search suspicious vehicles with strange characters on board.

15. Whilst on patrol, always make sure that at regular intervals, certain vehicles are deliberately delayed between one to two hours and that alone is capable of foiling a planned robbery mission. Most robberrs get the weapons they use on rent for their deadly operations at dead locations (unspecified meeting points ) and their meeting with their “armourers or gun suppliers” are solely dependent on time and so they don’t joke with time.

16. The police should block all roads unannounced when the receive information about any form of robbery either bank, car high jacking or residential.

17. The police should increase its reaction time in case of robbery. Don’t give armed robbers time because they are faster than the speed of light.

18. Communication is key in fighting robbery and so it is incumbent on the police to always activate as soon as practicable all the channels of communications available to them in the event of report of robbery.

19. It is not all the time that strength fitness can fight robbery, smartness, alertness, bravery and intelligence counts a lot.

20. Ability to memorize car numbers, types and make of vehicles, facial recognition abilities, narrative skills and competence are important prerequisites for the fight against robbery.

20. The police service must make good use of social media (new media ) and the traditional media part of their information and gathering sources. Inversely, they can disseminate information and tit bits on crime prevention and tactics in staying safe.

21. Recruitment into the service should be more rigorous in terms of background checks of prospective recruits. Recruitment should follow a certain strict regime, approach and compliance in terms of training and development.

22. The modes of leaving the service as stated in in Regulations 112,116, 117 and 120 of the CI76 police service regulations Act 2012 must always be followed to the latter to avoid people leaving arbitrarily and at will without following properly laid down procedures in debriefing and exit (withdrawal) strategies.

There is no doubt there are large numbers of weapons in civilian hands but who trains them to use those weapons should engage the minds of our policy makers.

23. All exiting members of the security agencies must reminded to continue to respect their oaths of secrecy on retirement or civil life.

24. Public relations must be proactive other than reactive. It must be seen taking education to the general public instead of waiting for crime stories to break before the media is invited for briefing on what has happened.

25. The police must take media monitoring seriously.

26. The modus operandi of criminals change from time to time, year to year, area to area and so on. To achieve this, police must as a matter of policy put together crack teams of researchers to study the behavioral approaches and changes in crime.

27. Criminality is a “profession” for many social misfits and crime prevention must not only be seen necessarily as a routine duty call but must be seen as a continuous of study by the police service.

28. As a matter of policy, the administration must create a database of criminals and mugshots that can be accessed in any charge office in Ghana for easy identification of suspected criminals.

29. Going forward, the police service should consider connecting all police stations to the Internet and also digitize police books such as the station diary and others.

This is the little I can add to what those who have come before my generation had to say about the armed robbery manace. As Goethe once said “Everything has been thought of before but the problem is to think of it again” it is our time as young people of the service to take up from where our forebears left of in the thinking process.

What I have attempted to do today, is to basically put my thoughts together as a result of my over 12 years stay in the service most of which was spent at the National Security. These thoughts are in solidarity with the recent shooting of a recruit mate of mine Daud Abdul Rahman in the upper west region.

This only reminds me of the oath we took together to always do what is right at all times to defend our people come rain or shine. No matter how hard these robbers will try to eliminate us, we shall remain resolute in fulfilling the mandate the oath gave us. We are ready to die for our people.

That is why we must not die with our ideas, let’s share them with everybody in these service. “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it” Henry Ford. As indicated earlier, past policemen and women have done their thinking to bring this service this far, it is our time to continue the thinking.

We cannot to look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction. We must think outside the box.

My name is Mohammed Abdul Hanan, I have no exceptional talents, other than a passionate curiosity.

Long live Ghana, long live the Ghana Police Service.

God bless all peace makers

Mohammed Abdul Hanan EL-Saeed
Chiraa station
Sunyani District
Brong Ahafo Region

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