Stop & Search: Here’s what Ghana’s laws say about search without a warrant

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Ghana’s Criminal Procedure Code has directives concerning the standard operating procedures of the Ghana Police Service.

There have been various instances and narratives of stop and search by the police on the road without a warrant.

For what has been the usual order of the day in the country, drivers and users of the road have had to deal with the situation, sometimes bribing their ways through some of the questions and procedures the police take them through on the road.

However, some who have over the time not been comfortable with the procedures have spoken and acted against it with some situations escalating to result in police brutalities.

What does the law say with regards to searching without warrant by the Ghana Police Service?

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

1. Purpose.

To define the search and seizure activities of the Police in full accordance with the law.

2. Procedures.

2.1. Searches without a warrant.

2.1.1. A Police Officer may search without a warrant if he has reasonable cause to believe that a person has concealed on himself or is conveying;

a. An article which has been stolen or unlawfully obtained.

b. An article in respect of which a criminal offence has been, is being or about to be committed.

2.1.2. A Police Officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police or who being below the rank has been authorized in writing by an officer of the said rank may enter a house, shop, warehouse, yard, boat, vessel, or other premises which the Police Officer has reasonable cause to believe contains property which has been stolen or obtained by unlawful means.

2.2. Searches with a warrant.

2.2.1. Where a Police Officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that there is in a building, vessel or any other premises;

a. A thing in respect of a which an offence has been committed.

b. A thing which is intended to be used for the purpose of committing an offence.

c. A thing which has been unlawfully obtained.

d. A thing of which possession is unlawful’.

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