The Bureau of Public Safety is concerned about the fractured relationship between police and the civilian population.

According to the group, the disturbing trend of mutual disrespect for rights and freedoms and the lack of trust between civil society and the police, could completely grind law and order to a halt, if not urgently addressed.

A statement signed by the Executive Director, Nana Yaw Akwada, highlighted three separate incidents involving clashes between the police and some civilians last week, which were also widely reported by the media.

The incidents

On Thursday, a group of about 10 police officers assaulted three journalists working with the Ghanaian Times newspaper after they attempted to film an officer who had committed a traffic offence and hit their vehicle.

Later, a video circulated on social media of Assin North MP, Kennedy Agyapong attacking Central Regional Police Commander on the premises of the University of Education, Winneba in the Central Region.

Ken Assault

Then on Saturday, another video emerged in which a driver and his mate were captured engaging in an open bout with a police officer at Weija in Accra after he tried to arrest the driver of the commercial bus over a traffic offence.

“The aforementioned incidents are symptomatic of grave institutional failure and lack of systems that will offer civil hearing, in a trusted environment with an assurance of confidence that will provide trust for a need to lodge complaints, and hope to receive a fair hearing,” the statement noted. 

Immediate action

While reiterating calls for punitive action against the errant officers as well as Mr. Agyapong and the driver and his mate, the statement also urged the Police administration to let its officers appreciate that “…it is not an offence for anyone to record them in public space in so far as that action does not inhibit or interfere with the discharge of their lawful duties.”

Nana Yaw Akwada

Nana Yaw Akwada

“…we cannot overemphasise the need to re-orient the entire police service members to reconcile and firm their psyche to the tenets of democratic policing and on the delivery of service rather than exacting force on the citizenry whose fundamental rights and freedoms are to be protected by the police,” it added. 

The Bureau of Public Safety acknowledged that public trust and confidence in the police are prerequisites for effective policing.

“Without this trust, the public will not be willing to cooperate with the police in the discharge of their duty and may continue to physically challenge their authority to enforce the law thereby compromising public tranquillity and undermining our democratic experiment.”