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Cry of drivers during routine Traffic stops by Police

By: Mary Wellington

Police brutality is a known issue in Ghana, but another common problem is the police’s tendency to extort money from drivers, with or without cause. This practice has greatly diminished the respect that people have for the Ghana Police Force. It is often done in public, with officers shaking down drivers for sums of money due to traffic offences, as recorded in the new “cash book,” as one passenger described it.

It is now essential to determine who is responsible for checking traffic offences and what actions can be taken when drivers engage in traffic misconduct. The public and drivers often find themselves negotiating with the police on various issues such as expired licenses, roadworthiness, manner of driving, stamp duties, and other offences while travelling in commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, this leads to police officers collecting a large amount of money from motorists. Some police officers may engage in misconduct while performing their duties, such as seizing personal items from drivers without a warrant. The suspected driver has no say in the matter, which may result in additional allegations by the police. This fear of arrest for investigation may lead to further extortion of money from the suspected motorists.

It’s important to address the public’s lack of understanding regarding the diverse roles of policing within the general service. Many police officers have specialized professions and not all of them are required to stop drivers and question them on traffic regulations. It’s been observed that conducting motor checks is not the responsibility of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) alone, but a misconduct of the police and other departments as well. This is an oversight in the police force.

Although MTTD officers are typically identified by their white tunic with black trousers and sometimes a reflective jacket, any police officer can conduct a traffic regulation check when they suspect an offence has been committed. In such cases, the matter must be referred to the MTTD immediately after the primary check. The police law about traffic regulation checks has been neglected, with officers indulging in collecting money from drivers instead of prosecuting them under the law. This has led to the punishment of traffic offences becoming synonymous with “bribe-taking” and being done blatantly in public. However, it’s important to note that reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle, and other road safety offences are all punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to a year at a minimum.

The fine-taking has now been abused by the Police force for their gain. Although this is a wrong step it has also regulated the behaviour of some drivers on the road while to others, committing traffic offences is common.

The Police Administration has activated the following hotlines:
027500156, 0550323325 for voice calls and SMS only, and 0206639121 for Whatsapp.
This is to get the public, both passengers and motorists to complain about this unprofessional conduct of the police to the authorities when experienced.

In a nutshell, it is important to note that when the police cannot control their corrupt practices, fulfilling their responsibilities as a crime-fighting, security-promoting agency and maintenance of law and order becomes difficult.

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