Tamale is one of Ghana’s fastest growing cities. Tamale’s population grew from 1,435 in 1907 to 371,351 in 2010. According to a summary report of the 2010 population and housing census, Tamale’s population is projected to reach 563,916 by 2020, making it the third-largest city in Ghana and the fastest-growing city in West Africa.
The effect of such huge population increase is a worsening of the already heightened criminal activity in the city. Evidence of already heightened criminal activity in the city can be found in the 2012 and 2013 issues from the Statistics & Information Technology Unit of the Ghana Police Service. Per the report, unlike other cities like Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi/Takoradi, Tamale witnesses a consistent increase in major reported crimes. Murder in 2011 for example, saw a 48% increase in 2013 in Tamale but 31% and 5% decrease respectively in Accra and Kumasi.
The spike in criminal activity is coupled with the precarious situation as contemplated by Bagson and Owusu. They express such a situation as follows, “Like most cities in the country, the authorities have proved unable to respond positively to the rapid urbanization by providing adequate social infrastructure. This has not only resulted in inequality in income and access to urban services, but has also significantly impacted on the hitherto traditionally bounded safety nets that had held society together. This has been fuelled by the interplay of extreme antagonistic party politics and traditional governance (chieftaincy), making Tamale artificially calm on the surface but polarized along religious, party political, and chieftaincy lines. (emphasis mine)”
I do not purport to be a security expert, but I am convinced that prudence, diligence, and I dare say competence should dictate to the police that there is the need to increase police presence in the city. According to Bagson and Owusu, the current police personnel strength of 235 (against the expected 743 required to provide optimum protection) represents a deficit of 508 men within the metropolis.
In their analysis of the police-population ratio in Ghana, the respected authors go on to assert that “In the case of Tamale, a city with a landmass of 646.90 sq km and a population of 371,299, currently it has only two main police stations, located toward the Central Business District (CBD), and two police posts along the Accra–Paga road, perhaps because of its international nature. Quite conspicuous is the complete physical absence of police in the middle- and low income communities of Zogbeli and Aboabo-Tamale, respectively, which are both conflict laden and highly populated. This reflects an unbalanced distributive justice with respect to the siting of police stations and deployment of police services.”
As a resident of Tamale, it is quite troubling and sad all at once to find police deploy more men to our city only after the unfortunate and avoidable death of Maame.
Police Conduct in Tamale
The confidence of the people of Tamale in the police wanes. Blame cannot be put at the doorstep of the citizens of Tamale but the police themselves.
In broad daylight you see a policeman in uniform comfortably smoking weed with drug addicts and u think that police stands the chance to be ‘feared’?
Most at times the Police are usually caught off guard. A policeman while on duty can be on phone for several minutes late in the night and you wonder if the conversation can’t wait. Any serious criminal from a distance should be able to carry out his criminal act with the police officer ill-prepared.
The appearance of the police doesn’t ‘scare’ the civilian unlike the military. I believe the police are lacking ammunition which is critically needed to protect themselves first before the helpless citizen.
Corporal Now Sergeant Agatha Nana Nabin is No More