Department of Forensic Sciences to Train Fire Service Officers in Forensic Investigations

The Department of Forensic Sciences has held a stakeholders workshop to discuss a training course for personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) on Forensic Fire Investigation.

The training course is aimed at equipping officers of the Ghana National Fire Service with the requisite skills to conduct forensic investigation into incidents of fire and determine the true cause of such fires.

Participants of the Workshop

Participants of the workshop were made up of a team of top officers from the National and Central Regional headquarters of GNFS, lecturers and some students of the Department of Forensic Sciences. Officers who came from the National headquarters of GNFS included DCFO Julius Kuunuor, Director of Finance and Administration; DCFO Obeng Dankwa Dwamena, Director of Human Resource, DCFO Patrick Donkor, Director of Investigations, ACFO Paa Kwesi Adutwum, Chief Staff Officer, and DOI James Oheneba Yaw Kwarteng, Staff Officer.

Lack of Expertise in Forensic Investigation

In a speech read by the Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, Prof. Justice Sarfo, on behalf of the Provost, College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Prof. Livingstone K. Sam-Amoah to open the workshop, he observed that it was unfortunate that the security and law enforcement agencies of Ghana had to mostly rely on foreign experts to help investigate some high level criminal activities and arson in the country. “By so doing, we do not only announce to the world that we are incapable of solving our own problems, we also freely make available to these foreign investigators pertinent national information and data that should rather be protected,” he noted.

Sophistication in  Criminal Activities

Prof. Sam-Amoah said with globalisation and technological advancements, criminals have devised means of mastering the art of committing and covering up their activities to the extent that it was becoming difficult for such crimes to be uncovered. “Our nation has witnessed several criminal cases go cold because of lack of credible evidence to continue the prosecution of such cases,” he noted. He indicated it was for that reason the University of Cape Coast in 2015 established the Department of Forensic Sciences and mandated it to train forensic experts to remediate their eminent scarcity and also to augment the justice delivery system.

UCC to Introduce MSc in Forensic Sciences

The Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences announced that, the Department of Forensic Sciences would introduce a split-site Master of Science programme in Forensic Sciences between UCC and Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, India in the 2019/2020 academic year.  “Students who enrol on this programme will have the opportunity to study for a year in our partner institution in India and through that boost their intercultural awareness and gain access to state-of-the-art equipment to conduct research” he noted. Again the Provost said another stakeholder workshop would be held to discuss a training course in Contemporary Crime Scene Investigation for Police Officers as well as a B.Sc programme in Police Science.

GNFS Commitment to Build Capacity of Personnel in Forensic Investigation

On his part the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Julius Kuunuor, said the current GNFS administration was determined to ensure that personnel were well developed through continuous professional training to help minimise fire outbreaks, road traffic accidents and other related incidents in the country. Mr. Kuunuor admitted that technological advancement had made firefighting and investigations more complex, hence the need to employ tact and dexterity to unravel the causes of these happenings. 

“Our hope in the long term is to encourage personnel to acquire Diploma and Degree in Forensic Science to be able to analyse and manage issues on road traffic accidents, arson and its related cases” he added. Mr. Kuunuor was grateful to the Vice-Chancellor and the Head of Department of Forensic Sciences for responding positively to their request to host the training course.

Pioneer BSc. Forensic Sciences Students Asset to Security Agencies in Ghana

The Head of the Department of Forensic Sciences, Dr. Richmond Afoakwah, introduced the six pioneer students of the Department who would be graduating in 2019. He appealed to  of the top  officers of GNFS present at the workshop to engage the services of the pioneer students after they graduate next year to help address the current challenges of investigating cases. “We are aware that over the last few years you have repeatedly advertised for Forensic Scientists to enlist in the service”, he said. “We are also aware that you have not been successful at enrolling anybody in this category. Your search is over. We have taken our time to give these students the requisite training and expertise you are looking for,” he assured.  He noted that the students would be great assets not only to GNFS but to the various security agencies in the country.

Appreciation to GNFS

Dr. Afoakwah thanked tGNFS for its determination to ensure that discussions for the short courses became a reality within the shortest possible time to allow personnel of the Service to acquire the requisite skills and knowledge in Forensic Sciences.

“In practice, most often when academia contacts industry to initiate the much touted Industry-Academia partnership, at best it ends at the initial thought and the collaborations don’t extend further to see policy being implemented. I would therefore like to express my profound appreciation to the hierarchy of the GNFS and the Chief Fire Officer in particular for his resolve to see this training course materialize” he noted.