ABUJA (ECOWAS Secretariat Report) – The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) are to conduct training of National Focal Points on uniform standards for gathering, reporting and sharing of crime statistics.
According to the report issued from the Communication Division of ECOWAS, this resolve is part of the outcomes of the 2-day Technical Sub-committee Meeting on Training and Coordination of the West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) which ended recently in Abuja, Nigeria. The report stated that following the meeting, INTERPOL and the ECOWAS Commission are to continuously support joint training and operations for Law Enforcement Agents, taking gender into consideration.
“On their part, Member States will be required to submit quarterly reports on crime statistics to the ECOWAS Commission through the Permanent Secretariat of WAPCCO, whilst participants from Member States are to serve as primary or secondary focal points to ensure the galvanising of support and coordination of crime statistics reports to the WAPCCO Secretariat,” the report explained.
“Other recommendations emanating from the meeting include: the nod given to the ECOWAS Commission to promote the harmonization of legislation and the complementary legal and regulatory frameworks to enable joint police operations on Transnational Organised Crime (TOC) to be conducted smoothly.”
Member States were also urged to utilize available platforms for information sharing, including the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) and INTERPOL. They are to strengthen land, maritime and air border security to tackle crime effectively, while ensuring that all cars receive INTERPOL clearance certificates. The INTERPOL Regional Bureau was prevailed upon to promote the integration and use of INTERPOL’s criminal databases with national crime systems and strengthen links between National Central Bureaux (NCBs) and all Law Enforcement Agents.
The report continued that broadly, the Police Chiefs urged ECOWAS to strengthen regional police cooperation through WAPCCO and ensure budgetary allocation for annual meetings of WAPCCO and its Sub-Committees. This is in addition to strengthening inter-regional cooperation between WAPCCO and the Central African Police Chiefs Committee (CAPCCO) in combating TOC.
The ECOWAS Commission was further mandated to send crime statistics templates to Member States for reporting, just as in conjunction with the INTERPOL should organize joint operations on drug control between the Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal. The participants also took a critical look at the crime statistics reporting format and modalities for regional joint police operations.
In his closing remarks, the Head of INTERPOL Regional Bureau, Kedji Marcellin Abbe thanked participants for their valuable contributions, reiterating that the outcomes and recommendations of the meeting will be submitted to WAPCCO.
The senior officials of ECOWAS Commission as well as the Chair of WAPCCO Technical Sub-Committee on Training and Operations, Lanre Bankole (DCP) in their appreciation thanked participants for their patience and frankness in discussions.
The purpose of the training as contained in the report was for the Police Chiefs to explore ways of fostering cooperation among police officers from Member States, who specialize in training and operations with a view to reinforcing regional capacities for effective combat of transnational organized crime. Apart from electing their bureau during the exercise, the participants took note of the presentation of the status of implementation of previous Sub-Committees’ reports as well as the presentation of country crime statistics and reports.
Member States also reported on crime trends, noting the areas with increasing and decreasing crime statistics and the reasons for such trends, whilst challenges, achievements and suggestions for improvement were proffered.