The acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mrs Elizabeth Mills-Rebertson, has dissolved the investigations section of the Panthers Unit of the Ghana Police Service and asked the unit to stop handling criminal cases with immediate effect.
She said the unit was set up as an operational unit of the Police Administration at the headquarters to respond to emergencies and not to be handling criminal cases.
Mrs Mills-Robertson noted that some personnel of the unit often arrested criminals and kept them in the cells of police stations in the Accra Region, which was not their duty.
She said the personnel, like any police officers, could arrest on suspicion or fact but the person arrested must be handed over to the nearest police station for further investigations, in which case "those who effected the arrest will become witnesses and not investigators".
According to her, "the Accra Region is not the jurisdiction of the Panthers Unit and it should, therefore, refer all cases either to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters or the nearest police command in Accra".
She told officers and men of the unit at a meeting at the Police Headquarters Thursday that personnel of the unit had in recent times been in the news for the wrong reasons.
Mrs Mills-Robertson said the Police Administration would not tolerate any indisciplined and criminal acts by the personnel.
As a first step, she said, the Police Administration would restructure the unit and those who needed not to be there would be re-posted, stressing, "Do not think that when you are at the Panthers Unit you are untouchable."
She said the restructuring had become more imperative with the creation of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), since there should not be any duplication of roles.
Mrs Mills-Robertson said some of the personnel often undertook operations or exercises which did not lie in the purview of the unit and ended up bringing the image of the service into disrepute.
She expressed disappointment in the senior officers at the unit for often sending the junior ranks on errands which led them into trouble.
She said she had received reports that some of the junior ranks were often unhappy with the errands their superior officers sent them on especially duties which were not part of police work.
"Do not send them to undertake any unlawful duties on your behalf anymore," she warned.
She advised those who did not have the right attitude for police duties to apply to be given safe passage or stay in and face the consequences.
The Director-General in charge of Operations, DCOP Patrick Timbillah, said the unit was established as an intervention unit for the Police Headquarters and be an interface between the police and the military.
Unfortunately, he said, it was now handling land cases and other issues which had given it a bad name.
The Head of the unit, DSP Francis Somian, noted that some of the cases it handled had been referred to it by members of the Headquarters Management Advisory Board (HEMAB) and other senior officers.
He said the unit would comply with the directives of the IGP and stick to its core role and apologised for any embarrassment it might have caused the Police Service.