The place and space of informal crime prevention strategies in urban Ghana
The rapidity of urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa in the twenty-first century tends to overstretch the capacity of states to provide or enable access to urban infrastructure and services including policing services; even though, urbanization is synonymous with economic growth in some cities. Indeed most studies on the soaring urbanization outcomes indicate that alongside economic restructuring and social transformation, growing informality and increased unemployment have been mandated outcomes of accelerated, unplanned and disordered urbanization. The outcome of such low-income, low-investment growth includes a situation where urbanization offers neither decent places to live nor productive places to work and can potentially generate criminal tendencies. Meanwhile, many scholarly explanations of crime had proffered that economic deprivation acts as a motivational factor in the manifestation of crime. While the causal role that economic hardship plays in promoting criminal behavior differs, most explanations had advanced some variant of the basic theme that poverty in a stratified society weakens institutional legitimacy and undermines the social bonds between these institutions and the impoverished. Additionally, economic hardship had been deemed especially critical in grasping an understanding of the disparity evinced frequently between the crime rates of the ‘haves’ and the have-nots” who normally live in conditions that are much more economically barren than those in the affluent societies within the urban space. Mandated by the constitution to provide internal security, the Ghana Police Service appears challenged with human resource capacity among other logistical constraints to the extent that it is uncertain about the geographies of their official operations: were and whose life and property are adequately protected and how the under-protected secure themselves. The study unpacks this conundrum and explores the role of informal crime prevention strategies in complimenting the provision of urban security.