The Minister of Interior, Ambrose Derry, has announced the full operationalisation of the West Africa Police Information System (WAPIS) programme in Ghana to boost transnational criminal investigation, which depends largely on the availability and timely access to information.
Speaking at the WAPIS awareness raising event in Accra, he lauded the European Union, the funding partners, INTERPOL, as the implementing partners, and ECOWAS, strategic partners, for heeding the initial request made by the West African Police Chiefs Committee in 2010.
According to him, the implementation of the WAPIS programme in Ghana was in three phases. The first is the implementation process, which is aimed at getting the Government of Ghana and other stakeholders to form the National Committee of the West Africa Police Information System (WANACO).
Phase II, he said, led to the refurbishment of offices with funding from the European Union for purposes of Data Collection and Registration Centre (DACORE).
The next phase was the registration of the WAPIS Centre as Data Center under the Data Protection Act of Ghana, in November 2015, in ensuring that all legal requirements have been fulfilled to enable the WAPIS Centre to operate legally in Ghana.
The Minister emphasised that Ghana is on course regarding the final phase of the programme, having its coordinating office in the country. He explained that the extension of the WAPIS system to the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Ghana Immigration Service and the Narcotics Control Commission have therefore been completed to allow access to criminal data to help speed up investigation.
“Connectivity between the WAPIS System and INTERPOL’s I-24/7 system has also been established. This part of the implementation process has been top priority with regards to implementation of the WAPIS Program because the system allows the sharing of national data worldwide, through the Interpol’s I-24/7 system,” he said.
The WAPIS programme, he reiterated, has been very beneficial to Ghana in various ways with regards to criminal investigations and particularly the fight against transnational organised crime.
“In the case of background checks, almost all investigating units at the CID Headquarters fall on the WAPIS Centre to ascertain the criminal background of suspects or persons of interest in criminal cases such as the INTERPOL Unit, Intelligence Unit, Financial Forensic Unit, Cyber Crime Unit, Homicide Unit among others,” he added
The Minister added that in conjunction with INTERPOL, WAPIS has conducted a series of training programmes to enhance the capacity of stakeholders in data collection, management, analysis and sharing of information to help in the fight against crime at the national, regional, and global levels.
He disclosed that about 47 operators, trainers, validators and system administrators were trained in 2021 under the programme and Ghana was selected to host the Regional Data Quality Training for Anglophone countries where participants met to share ideas and explored synergies to enhance International cooperation in attaining goals.