The Ghana Police Service set out to protect lives and property at match centres and not immediately arrest hooligans, Superintendent Sheila Abayie Buckman, Director of Public Affairs at the service has clarified.

“When we are going,” she tells JoySports “We go with the mentality of protecting officials, players, spectators, and property, and often prepare ourselves with rioting control disposition,” she stated.

This, is contrary to the general perception that, perpetrators of acts of violence at football venues should be arrested immediately.

Since 2018, about 15 cases of violence have been reported at match venues in various divisions of Ghana football.

In the ongoing football season, pockets of hooliganism have gained national attention including FIFA and CAF, who condemned the attack on referees in a match involving division one teams, Wamanafo Royals and Bofoakwa Tano where the centre officials were bloodied.

GFA President, Kurt Okraku, who appear disappointed and frustrated with the incessant violence meted out to officials, and the apparent lack of action from the police to curb the menace tasked the police to take responsibility and fight the crime in an interview with Joy Sports.

Supt. Buckman, in a response to the clarion call for arrest and prosecution of hooligans, said: “For the love of the game, it would not be every time that you’re seeking or looking to arrest and prosecute. A lot of things we do are preventive, so there may be times police would advice and this advise would contribute to whether officials would decide to ban local teams from playing on a particular field the other,” she continued.

“It is part of our rules to make an entry on duties we attend, so we make these entries as to what happens at match venues and this serves as a part of the record for security advice we give to organisers for subsequent matches, but we also need the cooperation of local organisers.”

Many have often accused club officials of deliberately overlooking the acts of fans at match centres because of the familiarity that exists between them. Sheila Abayie wants commitment from local clubs to aid their quest to clamp down on these hooligans.

“As much as we would often go out to look for people and possibly arrest and prosecute as you would wish would happen, why don’t match officials and organisers make complaints often when the incidents happen at stadia? It looks that has been the case in a lot of situations.

“The local organisers are not showing the commitment of cooperating fully such that individuals can be arrested and prosecuted for their criminal actions.

She, however, warned that, they would be forced to go the extra mile, if individuals or groups continue on the tangent of breaking the law at league centres.

Everybody sees police officers at stadia where matches are going on. It tells you that, not only are we involved in ensuring general security, but you feel our presence.

So, our presence at football matches; we are not just ensuring general security but also security for officials and the playing body, security for spectators, security for properties that are in the stadium and surrounding areas.

You may not see the terminology hooliganism, but generally, people act violently, people do vandalise, people do assault or cause harm to others and these are the things we are looking for because these are the things that our laws criminalise and give us the authority to arrest, investigate and prosecute.

“Nobody should hide under the guise of hooliganism not being criminal in our laws to perpetuate or commit a crime and think that the person will go scot-free,” she warned.