Value Added Article: The Fate of New Police Initiatives | EPW

Relevance: GS Paper II

Source

Governance


Theme of the article

Accountability to the citizen must be paramount in community-policing initiatives.


Why has this raised?

As part of its community-policing initiatives, the Maharashtra police has decided to institutionalise the “best policing practices” that were or are being followed in districts across the state. These include the “police didi” programme in Mumbai, the “bharosa (trust) cell” by the Pune and Nagpur police and so on.


The hurdles to effective Policing

  • Such initiatives are discontinued after the officers who started them get transferred to other jurisdictions.
  • India’s ratio of police persons per 1,000 people is 1.2, which is grossly below the United Nation’s recommendation.
  • There are huge vacancies in almost every state, especially in the non-Indian Police Service posts.
  • Problems of overwork, lack of leave, poor dietary habits due to long hours of duty, lack of decent housing and so on are just some of the issues they face.
  • Lack of caste and religious diversity in the force.
  • The attitude towards women constables and assistant inspectors.
  • poor investigation, and forensic skills and means.
  • “political interference” in police functioning and the political executive’s hold over the force

Way forward

  • The overall image of the police and the force’s efficacy—though different in different states—needs long-term bolstering through major reforms.
  • The introduction of eight-hour shifts in Kerala and Mumbai has been welcomed by the police therein. This needs to be replicated by other states.
  • The accountability of the police to the larger community and their attitudes towards tribal, marginalised, Dalit and women complainants must beensured.
  • Their training, postings, etc, need to receive urgent attention.
  • 10 states in the country have implemented a host of police reforms. More states need to follow.

Conclusion

Policing is the only non-combatant organsiation that can use force against citizens and curtail their liberty. Such power must be tempered by its own moral and social consciousness. The initiative announced by the Maharashtra police must take these factors into account when it institutionalises the best community practices.