Police in sex scandal
Fifteen point five (15.5) per cent of police personnel involved in swoops on commercial sex workers barter sex with them instead of prosecuting them, according to a survey by the Police Hospital.
The survey undertaken by two officers of the hospital's Public Health Unit, Chief Superintendent Dr Samuel Otu-Nyarko and Superintendent Jones M. Blantari covered the period between September and November 2007 countrywide, except the Northern region.
It was to find out about the existence of HIY/AIDS among personnel.
The survey, dubbed the Rapid Formative Assessment Report which employed purposive sampling techniques, also sought to examine the extent to which police personnel also interacted with Most-At-Risk Persons especially in 27 most impacted districts of the virus and also assess the level of knowledge of sex related laws in Ghana.
Commercial sex workers and homosexuals are classified among most-at-risk persons.
At a dissemination meeting on the report in Accra on Thursday, Superintendent Blantari noted that 251 officers from the ranks of Sergeants and above were interviewed.
He said that the Police Service had often been cited for arresting sex workers for possessing condoms ostensibly to use as evidence to prosecute them. It is said that some of the personnel also conduct routine swoop on the commercial sex workers without the consent of their superiors.
He stated that the survey revealed that there was a very high knowledge among the personnel on issues related to HIV/AIDS even though there were a few misconceptions about modes of transmission of HIY.
There was also high negative perception against Most-At-Risk-Persons (MARP) which goes to feed on the way the MARPs are treated or would be treated by the Police personnel. The level of knowledge of the law on sex-related offences was also found to be quite low.
Mr Blantari said even though reports had indicated that the HIV/ AIDS infection rate had dropped, this should not make people complacent to engage in sexual activities without taking the necessary precautions.
He noted that conclusions drawn from the survey were that, activities of the Ghana Police Service AIDS Control Programme need to be increased to make them visible throughout the nation.
The report suggests that identifiable groups could be assigned to monitor the arrest and prosecution of these MARP by the Police.
It also said the training curriculum of the Police Service should be expanded to include topics on stigmatisation, discrimination aria human rights especially towards MARPs.
The research noted that sex workers and other identifiable vulnerable groups like homosexuals have been identified as core Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) transmitting groups with their clients being the bridging population in most developing countries including Ghana.
Ms. Getrude Adze Akpalu the Programme officer of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDs, commended the team for an in-depth study, saying that there was the need to constantly educate the public about the prevalence of the disease.
She said that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus was to avoid stigmatisation and discrimination of those affected by the disease and incorporate them into the society.
In a speech react for her, the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Administration, Mrs. Elizabeth Mills Robertson, said that it was the expectation of the Police Administration that lessons leant from the assessment report would not be left to gather dust, rather, appropriate and feasible interventions would be put in place to make the report useful to all stakeholders.
"It is important as we devise strategies to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, to carefully look at the most-at-risk population to ensure that the needs of these groups are adequately addressed."