The West African Police Information System (WAPIS) Ghana, has cue into its database about 18,000 convicts to step up an interagency cooperation in the fight against crime.
The Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr. George Akuffo Dampare said the data was being interrogated by institutions that conducted investigations in the country.
The Acting IGP said this in a speech read on his behalf by Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr. Isaac Ken Yeboah, the Director General in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department, at the opening of WAPIS Three-day Regional Training on Quality Data for some selected law enforcement officers in Accra.
WAPIS was formed to create a system for sharing of criminal data in West Africa to combat transnational crime such as arms smuggling, illicit drug trafficking, piracy, and cybercrime.
The selected law enforcement officers for the training were from Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau and Liberia.
The Acting IGP noted that WAPIS had deployed equipment such as scanners, computers and UPS to its stakeholders in the country for data input and said his administration would put in more efforts to ensure the smooth implementation of WAPIS programme in Ghana.
Superintendent of Police Mrs. Naomi Acquah, second in Command, INTERPOL Accra, said the availability and access to quality data, that was in compliant with laid down rules and procedure, had been the bedrock of all successful law enforcement activities and same had made the world a better and safer place.
Supt. Acquah said quality data was accessed by its accuracy, completeness, consistency, timeliness, validity and uniqueness, adding that the need for quality electronic data to ensure a better and safer place had become more pertinent because of the numerous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This training could not be held at a more opportune time than this when the West African Region is plagued with issues such as political instability, increased maritime related crimes, proliferation of small arms, robbery.
“The resounding call by citizenry for law enforcement officers to urgently rise up to the task of making the world safer is louder than ever,” Supt. Acquah said.
She said the situation, therefore, underscored the relevance of WAPIS programme, which when implemented would be an invaluable asset and provide law enforcement officers with quality data to work with.
Baba Gana Wakil, Ambassador of ECOWAS, noted that one of the challenges in fighting transnational organised crime in West African, was lack of appropriate infrastructure to collect, store, manage, analyse and share criminal data among Law Enforcement Agencies at national and regional levels.
“Most of the activities could not be accomplished within the project period as a result of bureaucratic obstacle in the operationalization process at the national level and the absence of national budgets to support the project, which has also been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he noted.
Baba Wakil, therefore, urged member states to collaborate closely at national, regional and global level to fight transitional organised crimes.
He appealed to the European Union (EU) to consider extending the implementation phase of WAPIS project beyond June 2022, to ensure its successful implementation in the remaining member states.