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History of Ghana Police Service

Records show that Policing started in the year 1831 on the then Gold Coast. Prior to that, maintenance of law and order was executed by traditional authorities such as local headsmen and chiefs, who employed unpaid messengers to carry out executive and judicial functions in their respective communities.

However, in 1831, guarded forts and castles on the Gold Coast. In 1844, these troops were reorganized and named the Gold Coast Militia, becoming the law enforcement agency for the government of the then Gold Coast. Later the Gold Coast Militia became the Gold Coast, Police Force.

They were said to have operated with coercive military orientation. Their duties included escorting representatives of the government.  The Escorts among them acted with such impunity that they were described by the indigenes as “buga buga boys”.

In 1902, the Gold Coast Police Force was divided into the General Police and Escort Police. The Escort Police was made up of illiterates and semi-illiterates who were employed entirely on guard duties while the General Police was made up of literates who underwent proper civil police training.

Political disturbances in the Gold Coast led to the establishment of the Special Branch, the intelligent unit of the Gold Coast Police in 1948. In 1949, a Wireless Division was established in the Force to transmit the increasingly sensitive material to and from the various components of the Police Force; the Railways, Mines and Harbour Police and the Marine Police.

All this while, the Police was made up of men or male only. In September 1st, 1952 twelve (12) women were recruited into the Police Service, purposely to handle issues affecting women, children and juveniles who were either victims of crime, missing or allegedly engaged in some form of crime.

This remained until 1957, when the Gold Coast Police Force evolved into Ghana Police Force when Ghana gained Independence on 6th March of the year. In 1970, the Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350) was enacted. It can be argued that the “Force” description was changed to “Service” to give Ghana’s police organization the attitude of serving rather than applying force; as expected in a democratic state.

Presently, activities of the Ghana Police Service are regulated by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, with a mandate to maintain public order and ensure the safety of persons and property by maintaining internal peace and security. The functions of the Ghana Police Service are to prevent and detect crime, apprehend criminals, and prosecute criminal offenders (as authorized by the Attorney-General).

Other Legal Instruments, such as the Police Service Regulations 2012 (C.I 76) also provide some provisions governing the administration and operations of the Service.

As the Service underwent a metamorphosis, its leadership was also latently prepared for a transmutation. It shifted from expatriate heads to Ghanaian heads with Erasmus Ransford Tawiah Madjitey becoming the first local head on 9th October 1959.

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