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Is It A Crime To Record A Police Officer In A Stop And Search?

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Many a time we’ve seen citizens share videos on social media with their various encounters with police officials and one might ask, is it right? Do the police officers reserve the right to stop such acts? Must permission be sought from the police officers before videos are taken?

In this editorial, we’ll delve into this debate taking into consideration views shared on the X platform by tweeps.

According to the Ghana Police Service Standard Operating Procedures (Legal and Prosecutions Directorate) and Act 1960 (Act 30) of Ghana’s Criminal Procedure Code with relation to ‘Searches of dwellings, other premises and persons’ here’s what the website gathered.

Whether or not a police officer can stop you and demand a search depends on the circumstances. In general, police officers need a solid reason or a reasonable cause to believe that you are committing a crime or that you have evidence of a crime in your possession in order to search you without your consent.

But in the cause of the search, you as a citizen may want to secure yourself by taking a video of the search process so as to avoid the official from implicating you unknowingly as it’s reported to happen often. So, what does the law says about this? Do you need permission from the officer? Is the act against the laws of government?

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According to Supt Alexander Obeng of the MTTD in a JoyNews article published on January 17, 2021, quoted “It cannot be that, for example, if the police are at Kwame Nkrumah Circle and are conducting a search in public and all eyes are observing and the camera is also observing you take offence.
“I think that we should look at these things [filming of a search] which are very trivial and unnecessary…I believe the police officers are learning from these incidents.”

We asked followers of GhPage on Twitter to share their views with us in a video posted on the platform and we’ll share some with our readers here.

According to @pzeenetwork, “The Police Service Act, 2012 (Act 849) Section 42(2) states that: A person who is arrested or searched by a police officer may record the arrest or search on a video recording device or in any other manner.“

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He went to to add that “Section 42(3) also states that a police officer who intimidates or harasses a person who is recording an arrst or search is guilty of an offense and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than five hundred penalty units or a term of imprisonment not less than six mths“

@citizen_kwame also added his voice saying “I have experience this a lot through the Obuasi – Santasi road but they will ask you to remove the items yourself. They’ll just be watching whatever you are removing from the bag.”

In the video that generated these views from followers, the police officer at the end of his search queried the driver on why why was recording the search process without his permission. According to him, it was against the law and so he will have to seize the phone and submit it to the nearest police station for thorough investigations to be done on it.

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To conclude, we can attest by virtue of the laws in Ghana that one does not need permission from an officer to record during a stop and search.

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