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Opinions of Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Columnist: Yeboah, Stephen

Is Policing in Ghana a Curse?

“This is my humble question to the Police Council (especially IGP), the President of the Republic of Ghana and the honourable people of Ghana” Issues concerning the state of policing are ostensibly the most controversial that should take shape in the country simply because the available facts of the situation are justifiable. It is incredible to fathom the present state of policing in the country. In Ghana, the commendable visibility and quick response to crime scenes and robbery cases by the Ghana Police Service are no news to the ordinary people and leaders of government. In a time crime is getting sophisticated and raging where the indispensable services of the police would be highly needed, undoubtedly, conditions of service of police officers continue to get worse and worse. Under no circumstance can the significant role of the police be written off even in a situation where there are no crimes. Development efforts as a country are given the essential boost by serene atmosphere all led by the police and no wonder the country is touted as one of the peaceful region in Africa and the world at large.

It is, however, highly lamentable and worrying that the present state of remuneration, places of living and general living standards of policemen is a monstrosity. Immediately you are officially enrolled to be a police officer in Ghana then automatically you are ensnared in the horrible ordeals of low-income earners. Indeed, no news is good news. When you hear of recruits passing out at a colourful ceremony (that does not depict their level of livelihoods) expect that the number of low income earners (and as such poverty level) in Ghana will hysterically increase. The sixty-four thousand dollar question remains that “Is policing really a curse?” This is not a poem or mythology; it is the reality.

Focusing on the reality

On a simple premise, the statement by Inspector General of Police during an interaction with police officers in Koforidua that “the deteriorating state of discipline in the police service on lack of proper supervision” is wide of the mark. The spate of indiscipline among the service is strongly linked with the deteriorating state of the welfare of police officers.

Article 200(3) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana states that “The Police Service shall be equipped and maintained to perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order” I don’t get it, are the personnel really equipped and maintained? In no uncertain terms, the police service is in no wise equipped and maintained considering the fact that the welfare of the policeman is now left in the laps of the gods. Most importantly, Ghanaians should salve their conscience by the thought that policing is all about patriotism to the state. In reality, there are few, if any, persons in government leadership and offices with a sense of patriotism. Patriotism is does not resonate the call for life hardships. The ‘long arm of the law’ needs to make a respectable living so that they can serve with integrity. If not, there is definitely no integrity when conditions of service are utterly poor.

Though the vigorous crackdown on armed robbery by the police recently especially in Ashanti Region in life threatening combats, one should not be flabbergasted to know that the conditions of service of the policemen remains unchanged and is even deteriorating. The upwelling concerns regarding the poor state of living among policemen in Ghana should be given utmost priority if the country is to experience significant growth. Obviously, the welfare of the policeman has long been a mundane matter and it is about time the state reconsider things.

The most significant aspect lies in the fact that the remuneration of policemen of various ranks is woefully inadequate. What becomes of the future of a Constable or even a Corporal that has a wife and two children all in school? The same undersized money (possibly GH¢250-350) would be used for home keeping and education of the children. Woe is the officer that finds himself in this unpleasant condition; it is better to stay alone. It takes loans and sometimes discount sales “donkomi” for a policeman to furnish his unacceptable room size in the barracks with electrical appliances and other housing properties. One is, therefore, completely right not to categorise most policemen as among those living a respected livelihoods. Not mincing matters, Ghana do not respect the livelihood of the policeman and no wonder the public are made not to respect the personnel in the service. What is most disgusting is the fact that it is our policemen who bear the brunt of the country’s underdevelopment. This is evidenced in situations where always-malfunctioning traffic lights and poor city planning cause officers to stand at traffic intersections under the full scorching sun directing traffic.

For issues regarding their places of living (the barracks), it is underscored with fear and trembling. A room is defined as ‘a space in a housing unit or other living quarters enclosed by walls which extends from the floor to the ceiling or roof covering a size large enough to hold a bed for an adult’. What kind of description would rooms in barracks take since majority of rooms cannot just hold a bed for an adult? It is nothing else than a structure below the characteristics of a normal room. In Ghana arrangements of properties at major barracks are comparable to an auctioning procedure where goods are layed to public view for a highest bidder. Go and see for yourself the condition of our people that keeps watch over us day and night; fridges are lined up on the small veranda as if to say consignments are ready for export.

Notwithstanding all these inherent challenges of which most officers sail through, one or two isolated cases where the police overreact against unarmed civilians receive blatant criticisms from the public and to the extent of being published on front pages of newspapers as if the police are the cause of Ghana’s increasing chronic poverty and ailing economy. It is the same people that would be called to respond to crime scenes. It should be known that as much as the civilian is susceptible to death so can the policeman die easily; they are not immortal. Since the invaluable services of the police service in Ghana are indispensable, it is high time enough dignity was attached to the welfare of officers. I do not want to believe that Ghana policing is an epitome of life hardships.

Where are Authorities?

I knew very well that Kwame Sefa Kayi’s Peace FM morning show earlier this year that revealed the horrifying conditions peace officers are grappling with in their homes nationwide would be a mere formality and its significance would efface by time. The authorities in the Ghana Police Service and the government have no cause to be dismayed if the integrity of the service is compromised and gravely tarnished. They should step up efforts towards salvaging the reputation of the service and saving the policeman from the firm grips of stern hardship. Hardships in life hate integrity and always demoralise personnel in the service. In a way I am thinking to believe that those at the top of the ladder of Ghana Police Service are exceedingly better off and therefore see no need to intervene and intercede for the cause of those at the lower level. Where are IGP and other high ranking officials? Something is really wrong.

The government should as a matter of urgency rise up against this unfortunate situation of peace fighters if the country in actuality wants to move forward in the needed change. General insecurity and crippling of social order halts a country’s development efforts to soothe the enormous threat of increasing abject poverty. They also deserve respected remuneration and spacious rooms to rest for a day’s hectic and risky activities.


It is not really surprising, though not condoning the practice, when a police officer on the road side tries to add up to his minuscule salary in order to be a responsible father in the home. Ghana is of course the cause of these wrong doings due to the unfair treated meted out to these officers of the noble profession, policing. A policeman should in no way be a low income earner and sleep in a structure that is difficult to describe a room. Police corruption as an instance, should not be news because there are high level of deadly corruption happening somewhere in the economy of Ghana.

According to the IGP “he would continue to ensure that the police in Ghana attain a world-class standard, able to swiftly clamp down on crime in society” ( This is very amusing and largely impossible if the present sordid welfare of peace officers is not overhauled to a blissful one. What is even world-class standard policing? Having enough guns and ammunitions and able swiftly clamp down on crime in society amid demoralised personnel? This is completely enigmatic. If contemporary situations go unchanged, one would without doubt assert the fact that policing in Ghana is a curse (a poverty trap) and that the youth should run away from this profession.

The author Stephen Yeboah ( is at the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana.