A CRIME fighting scheme is expanding in Africa thanks to the support of a Nottinghamshire Police co-ordinator from Mansfield.
Sarah Smithurst spent two weeks in western Ghana, helping officers there set up their own version of Crimestoppers and delivering aid in the form of police equipment.
She also helped pass on gear provided by the National Police Aid Convoys (NPAC) charity to six police forces along with supplies for schools and hospitals.
Sarah is responsible for co-ordinating information passed to Nottinghamshire Police through the Crimestoppers charity.
She wanted to help out the Ghanaian police after seeing how poorly equipped they were during her first trip to the west African country.
“I met two officers who were very pleased to see me. One of them had survived because of a stab proof vest we provided,” she said.
Armed robbery and drug exporting are a major cause of crime in Ghana, and Sarah said the project provided a confidential way of passing on information to police.
“The original scheme is really proving its worth, with arrests being made as a result of information coming in about all sorts of crimes, but mainly drugs and firearms,” she said.
“Businesses in Ghana have given their backing to the project and we have relied on their goodwill and support to really get it off the ground and get the message out there.”
Ghana’s Crimefighters scheme works along similar lines to the UK’s Crimestoppers, although it is not independently run as it is in Britain, with calls handled by the Ghanaian police. It still allows for rewards to be paid for information which leads to the conviction of criminals.
Sarah said: “People in Ghana know what is going on but they do not trust the police. They are low-paid and often corrupt but they have had a pay rise and new police officers are coming in who can read and write.”
Sarah said she was training staff on how to empathise with callers and what to do with the information when they get it.
She aims to put a co-ordinator like herself in charge of each of Ghana’s eight regions and play an advisory role from the UK.
She also wants to make people aware of the many homeless, orphaned Ghanaian children. If you have any unwanted domestic items, children’s games, toys or books contact Carole or Sandra on 0115 9390 999 or Sarah on 0300 300 99 99.