Commodifying policing: This lawlessness must stop

Commodifying policing: This lawlessness must stop
Source: Ghana | Paul Avuyi/Supt.Rtd | Chairman |Police Service Council
Date: 01-08-2017 Time: 05:08:22:pm
Inspector-General of Police, David Asante Apeatu

In the Friday, June 23, 2017 edition of the Daily Graphic, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) was reported to have charged all regional police commanders to deal ruthlessly with law breakers. That it was about time the service cracked the whip on those groups that have taken the law into their own hands.

Who is a law-breaker? A law breaker is someone who does something illegal. I wish to drawn the attention of all Ghanaians and especially the distinguished members of the new Police Service Council, that the Ghana Police Service (GPS) is a big time Law breaker.

One may ask, which law has the GPS broken? Article 200 (3) of the 1992 Constitution states, ‘the Police Service shall be equipped and maintained to perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order’’. Article 1(2) affirmed that the Constitution shall be the Supreme law of Ghana and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision shall, to the extent of the inconsistency be void.

Before the Constitution came into force, the GPS had in 1991 started deploying officers for manned guard duties at the banks, financial institutions, business houses etc. and charging fees for these duties.

Therefore, against the backdrop of the aforementioned Constitutional provisions.Where does GPS derive the constitutional or legal authority to commodify policing or commercialise part of its statutory functions? By engaging in bank guard duties and charging fees, was parliamentary approval sought? Which article in the Constitution mandates the GPS to enter into such business or seek funding or aid from private institutions, or corporate business bodies.

One of the cardinal principles of the Constitution is the Rule of Law. Surprisingly, successive governments under the 4th republic have failed to stop this illegality. Is it not sheer hypocrisy for the Inspector-General of Police to charge Commanders to ruthlessly deal with law breakers, when the service is itself a long-time law breaker? There are some individual officers who are also law breakers. Just to mention the following: Supt. Kofi Sarpong has been engaged in private commercial music business, Cpl. Sarfo is playing professional football and some Senior Officers who were served to proceed on terminal leave are still at post.

Which of the provisions in the Police Service Act empowers them to do so and has the IGP cracked the whip on them? Charity, it is said, begins at home. Is the Police Council not aware of this serious infractions?

The Police Service of a democracy is concerned strictly with the preservation of safe communities and enforcement of laws. A democratic police service is accountable to the law, and not a law unto itself and demonstrates a strong respect for the rule of law.

Ghanaians including, members of the Judicial, civil society groups, Ghana Bar Association, Journalists, pass the banks or go there daily to transact business and watch policemen on guard duties and come home to lament that they need more policemen to provide security in their neighbourhoods. Yet it has never dawned on them to question the legality of police duties at the banks.Is it any wonder that Ghana, has remained a country where those in leadership positions continue to sacrifice Wisdom and Truth for Propaganda and Hypocrisy?

25 and 21 years ago, two bodies came out with reports on their findings on police guards at the banks. It is necessary at this point to throw light on the findings/recommendations contained in this reports.

  1. Ryan Report

In 1992, the British Government under the British Aid arrangements, commissioned a team of UK police officers to conduct ‘Assessment Visit’ to the GPS from 22nd May to 5th June, 1992. The team was headed by PJ RYAN, Chief Constable, Norfolk Constabulary/UK.

The report which was submitted to the Police Administration on the 6th of June 1992 contains the following findings under the heading ‘Security at Banks’:-

11.8.1 ‘’The GPS provides 24 hours security at all banks in the country and this is a substantial drain on manpower, especially as new banks are opening weekly. We consider this matter to be major issue and one needing urgent reform. Using a formula developed in the UK which takes into consideration abstractions due to leave, sickness, rest days and training it requires a 5.6 men to cover one 24hour post and considering that there are 29 banks in Accra alone the manpower implications can easily be seen. Every Police officer we spoke to raised this as a major problem and drain on resources’’.

11.8.2:-

‘’We do not believe that security at banks should continue to be a police responsibility and that the major banks should pay the full cost for their own security and equipment. The police should have control over the security industry and should license and train the guards, charging real costs rather than allowing the private security industry to develop unlicensed as it has in the UK. We can provide appropriate advice on how this can best be achieved.’’

11.8.3:-

‘’We recommend that immediate steps are taken to relieve the GPS of the security duties at banks.’’

  1. Archer Commission Report

On 21st February 1996, His Excellency, former President Flt. Lt. JJ Rawlings inaugurated the Presidential Commission into the Ghana Police Service. Headed by the late Justice Philip Archer, the Commission was tasked among other things to review the structure, operations and administration of the GPS. It was also charged to consider the P.J Ryan report.

The Commission in paragraph 9.26 of its report presented to the NDC government in March 1997 contained the following findings:

‘’Bank Protection Units: Currently a considerable number of Policemen are engaged in guarding banks every day. The effect is that a great number of policemen who would otherwise engaged on crucial general police duties find themselves occupied as guards. The moneys earned from this duty are too meagre to make any impact on the finances of the service. The Commission considers it time the bank recruit their own guards who will be trained by the Police to undertake bank guards duties.’’

In the light of all the foregoing findings, one can come to the conclusion that the engagement of Police in guard services is illegal and has remained a major problem and a substantial drain on manpower and other resources were all successive governments and Police Councils under the 4th Republic not aware of these findings? 25 and 21 years of silence without any action on these two vital reports, Police Councils, why?

Our growing urban and rural communities are crying for safety and security. They are in need of visible police officers patrolling neighbourhoods, highways, university campuses, schools, streets, alleys, market places and Lorry parks. The considerable number of junior officers who have been shackled with this illegal business must be freed to perform their traditional role of maintaining law and order.

Let me end by praying President Akufo-Addo, an old fox in the practice of democracy and also a die-hard exponent of the rule of law to halt this GPS lawlessness and impunity immediately. When Ghanaians vote for change, change must happen. The world is watching.

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