Promoting urban security through community participation: evidence from Wa, Ghana
Keywords:Urbanization, Community Participation, Crime Control, Police, Safety
Crime remains one of the major threats to urban communities in Ghana. Ostensibly, the hitherto approach in crime control had been targeting statutory institutions, notably the Ghana Police Service, to the neglect of community level participation, which has become critical due to the increase in crime levels and manpower challenges facing the law enforcement agencies. Against this background, this paper examined how community members contribute to the promotion of security in Wa, a cosmopolitan community in the Upper West Region of Ghana, which often escapes official reports. Forty-three (43) community crime control actors in addition to three key informants were selected purposely in a case study design. Primary data were gathered through interviews and focus group discussions. The study found that community actors complement the efforts of the police by supplying relevant information on crime and offenders resulting in the arrest and prosecution of offenders in the law courts; providing logistical support such as motorbikes and fuel to the police; arresting and handing over suspected criminals to the police; engaging the services of private security operatives; as well as undertaking community patrols often known as ‘neighbourhood watch’. Given the critical role of citizens in crime prevention and control, and the promotion of communities’ safety, the paper recommends that the police should periodically organise workshops to educate community members on modern crime trends and strategies so as to improve their skills in crime control and detection.