NOVEMBER 14, 2014 By Victoria Saffa
The Sierra Leone Police has partnered with the Ataya Base Union to enhance community safety and security in the Western Area.
The so-called ‘Ataya bases’ are predominantly visited by unemployed youth who discuss socio-political issues while drinking Chinese tea, locally called ‘Ataya’.
Speaking during the official launch of the partnership with the Union at Police headquarters on Monday, 10 November, Inspector General of Police Francis Munu said the aim was to ensure that youth who frequent ‘Ataya’ bases continue to be law-abiding and to help the police with security issues.
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The police boss announced that he and Director of Police Community Relations Department, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Chris Charlie, were in support of a pilot security sensitisation project to be carried out in ‘Ataya basess in the Western Area, in order to add a fresh impetus to security.
Mr. Munu said: “The key mission of the Sierra Leone Police includes to prevent crime, to protect life and property, to detect and prosecute offenders, to maintain public order, to ensure safety and security, to enhance access to justice and to ensure police primacy for internal security and safety.”
Speaking at sensitisation exercises in ‘Ataya bases’ within the Western Area, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Alhaji Bangura, said it was significant that both institutions have a working relationship to minimize crime in the country.
President of ‘Ataya’ Base Union, Samuel Ben Turay, said they could be both useful and harmful as they are sources of information, education and entertainment, while at the same time providing safe haven for youth in conflict with the law.
Turay said ‘Ataya bases’ are the ideal places for counselling youth with socio-economic challenges as many unemployed youth find solace there.
“Ataya Bases are the largest youth group in the country. I need other institutions to partner with me to solve youth issues in the country,” Turay said and thanked the head of the Police for endorsing their strategic partnership. He also called on him to support similar sensitisation campaigns in hundreds of ‘Ataya’ bases around the country.