Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) George Tuffour said there were 821 hot spots in the region during the 2008 elections, but the number may be lower for the December election following successful arbitration and public sensitization programmes on peaceful co-existence it spearheaded in collaboration other civil society groups.
He said to deepen peace, the Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) was initiating plans to organize a peace football gala for the media, political parties and the security agencies.
DCOP Tuffour was speaking at a two-day workshop organized by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) for its journalists and stringers (part-time correspondents).
The workshop, the fourth in a series, is sponsored by STAR-Ghana, a multi- donor pooled funding mechanism Funded by British Department for International Department, the Danish International Development Agency, European Union and US Agency for International Development to increase the influence of civil society and Parliament in the governance of public goods and service delivery.
It has the ultimate goal of improving the accountability and responsiveness of Ghana’s government, traditional authorities and the private sector.
The workshop, which is under the theme; “Upgrading GNA’s Human Capital for In-depth Coverage of Election 2012 and Beyond”, was attended by reporters and stringers from the Northern Region, Upper East Region and Upper West Region.
DCOP Tuffour said the major functions of the Police Service during elections include safeguarding the security of lives and property of citizens during the campaign and voting.
This is to ensure that citizens will not feel unsafe on account of holding, associating with or expressing a political opinion.
The police also have the role of ensuring the safety of electoral materials and officers, during and after the election, providing security for candidates and ensuring and preserving a free, fair, safe and lawful atmosphere for campaigning by all political parties without discrimination.
“In carrying out these functions, security agents are expected to exhibit the qualities of alertness, approachability, impartiality, fairness, restraint in the use of force and prompt communication with superiors in the event of an imminent security threat.”
DCOP Tuffour suggested the need for the Police Service and the media to collaborate effectively for the country to sustain and maintain peace during and after the December polls.
“One of the areas of collaboration is intelligence gathering and exchange of verifiable information…We need to be mindful that we have obligation to operate in a manner that is compatible with our political neutrality.”
The Regional Commander said the police and the media had been partners over the years in many respects, including the promotion of peace to serve the public interest.
DCOP Tuffour said the duty of the media was to sensitse the public by providing them with truthful, accurate and unbiased information to safeguard the security of the state.
Mr. Alhassan Imoro, a veteran journalist and a former Regional Director Northern Region of the GNA, advised journalists to adhere to code of ethics.
He said the media landscape should not be a platform of hate speech adding that media owners and journalists must desist from involving themselves in such unethical practices since they could put the nation at risk.