FRANCISTOWN: Love 'em or loathe 'em it seems the work the men and women in blue have been putting in is finally paying off. Despite having been described as 'brutal', 'unprofessional', and 'useless' among other adjectives, the Botswana Police Service (BPS) is a cut above the rest in the African continent, according to ratings by the World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI). WISPI has placed BPS number one in Africa and 47th in the world.
The minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi revealed on Thursday at the Eighth Annual National Community Policing Cluster Awards that, “At international level, the BPS has earned the high rating for its consistent and focused crime fighting strategies, which have resulted in progressively declining crime statistics”.
“These ratings are aligned to those of the World Justice and Peace Index (WJP), which has equally acknowledged the role of BPS in the achievement of public safety in Botswana thereby contributing to equally high rankings of the country in the areas of governance and the rule of law,” said a delighted Kgathi.
Such ratings, Kgathi noted, are reassuring to the nation and encourage investors to invest in the country.
“It is not everyday that a country earns high rankings by independent rating agencies, particularly not so, with respect to its police force or service. Often times we hear or read about police brutality, abuse of office, corruption and lack of professionalism in many jurisdictions. Therefore, a positive appraisal and recognition of the outstanding performance should motivate you as cluster policing structures to intensify your efforts and to be proudly associated with the good results accorded to the BPS at national and international levels,” Kgathi said.
Kgathi said this year’s community policing cluster awards ceremony that was held under the theme, ‘Towards safer and secure communities’, reaffirms the ministry and the police’s conviction that the fight against crime is key in guaranteeing socio-economic growth in Botswana.
“It is my view therefore that there is no value high enough to attach human security and the protection of life and property for the benefit of every citizen and or resident in Botswana. The basic objective of today’s event is for BPS and the ministry to acknowledge the fact that the fight against crime is not for the police alone as they cannot be everywhere. But for all of us, particularly in view of the fact that crime affects us all in one way or the other, either as victims and relatives of those who have committed crime or affected by it,” Kgathi said.
Kgathi implored the public to recognise and that even with the best equipment and technology the battle against crime cannot be won without the active and effective participation of the community as embodied in the form of policing clusters.
“As you are all aware, cluster policing entails a policing philosophy, which underscores the value of a mutually reinforcing police-community relationship in crime interventions. Such philosophy is a critical foundation for effective crime prevention. It is also a platform that enables the community to support crime intelligence and effective policing operations starting at the lowest
He added that the cluster-policing philosophy prompts communities to proactively develop solutions to the underlying problems relating to their locality.
“If you take for example drug trafficking and usage, it is the community who would have sufficient knowledge about who is a user or trafficker in their neighbourhood and it is them who can formulate and drive community based solutions to such a problem with or without any reward,” he noted.
Kgathi applauded the contribution of cluster policing in the achievement of the set targets relating to crime statistics reduction and the enhancement of public safety by the BPS.
“It is also worth noting that in terms of performance, the BPS has progressively been reducing violent, intrusive and serious crimes. Taking 2008 as the base year, such crimes had by 2017 registered a decline of 48% from 26% from around 26,150 to 13,704 cases. It is befitting to attribute part of this performance to the efforts of policing clusters whose performance we have been acknowledging for eight years,” Kgathi said.
The Commissioner of Police, Keabetswe Makgophe also thanked the community policing clusters for fighting crime in the country.
He said: “In turning this ideal into reality, the BPS has adopted community policing clusters in order to augment the limited strength of the organisation in the fight against crime… The National Cluster Awards Ceremony is therefore an open testimony to a strong relationship of mutual trust between BPS and the communities that we serve.”
“Our interaction outside the enforcement context is something we cherish as an organisation as it gives us legitimacy and consent from the public to deliver on our mandate,” Makgophe said.
The police chief also noted that the prize giving ceremony should not under any circumstances be misconstrued as an attempt to separate winners from losers.
“Probably the biggest losers will be those who are refusing to join us in this noble endeavour. In this regard, we are hopeful that the awards will continue to motivate many others to see the need to support community initiatives in the country,” Makgophe said.
He added: “…the deployment of cluster policing programmes along with complimentary crime control strategies such as intelligence-led policing and visible policing strategies have enabled the police service to continue to manage crime relatively well in Botswana”.
Makgophe was ecstatic because in 2017, decreases were recorded in the numbers of violent and intrusive crimes by 4.5 percent and serious crimes by 2.2 percent and cumulatively by 3.7 percent from 14,224 in 2016 to 13,704 in 2017.
He bemoaned that despite these encouraging results, there is a worrying trend of increase in house breaking, murder and rape cases.