Cultural influences on policing in Ghana

Cultural influences on policing in Ghana

By: Emmanuel Annang

The question of how officers are recruited into the country’s security services, including the Armed Forces and the nature of training, has come up for public scrutiny. This is largely because the Ghana Police Service has been in the media in recent times for all the unpleasant and varied reasons.

Obviously, some are good news, but the majority are about the brutalities of civilians in their line of duty across the country.

Such brutalities can be associated with our past and recent public elections, protests, demonstrations and to some extent dispersing of crowds.

When police brutalities are mentioned concerns are raised as a result of the consequences and death of individuals. Crime scene investigations and the handling of suspects in cells are issues worthy of discussion.

The good book says as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. The way we act is not different from the way we think in society. When we observe some of our cultural norms and sayings, one will realize how they define our values and what we are.

Cells that are supposed to accommodate 50 inmates are overflowing beyond their limits. What is our understanding of culture, if we cannot have basic values? This trickles down to the respect for suspects and convicts and even to our fellow human beings. Being an inmate does not make you less human or rob you of your dignity. This should not happen in this time and age and in such a civilised society, where culture is sound and built on ethical values.

Without question, we jump to attack people at the shout of “thief”. In modern society, a suspect is not guilty until proven guilty. It is against this backdrop, that the Ghana Police Service’s promotion of two police officers for accosting their colleague officer is commendable. So shall we not fail to question their lousy act of social mishap and brutalities on the public? Videos of some police officers on social media insulting a suspect, who obviously was in an extremely difficult situation and needed immediate attention, are disappointing and condemnable. These are heartless displays of cruelty and are seeping into our culture. This must not be allowed to continue. It is important for us as a country to make ethical values a crucial part of our everyday lives. Public servants and institutions especially, ought to portray a different culture, both as professionals and agents of cultural shift and dynamics. We need to have a conversation on our Culture and lookat how it impacts our development and progress. Protecting the right of the public and upholding the dignity of the the1992 constitution, which stipulates that a suspect is not guilty until proven guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction is paramount.

Ethics and professional competence are something we want to see, not just in the Police Service, but in the entire security services and other sectors of the economy. Human rights, respect and professional ethics, regarding to stated law, must mean more to the police service, with serious sanctions meted out to culprits. The security services must endeavour to combine Law and Order with value, ethics and respect for all.

This is what it means to be professional and competent. Unfortunately, Some personnel turn out to be rude, arrogant, snobbish and cruel towards those they are supposed to protect. This of course is disgraceful and is not a mark of best and standard police practice. Indeed, we must, as a people, learn to always do things with Love. We must stand for what is right and lawful, as well as what is good and just and not what is convenient to satisfy our own selfish interest, that goes to rob others of their common good and right.

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