Monthly Archives: October 2013

Does Good Policing Need to Figure in Urbanization Policy?

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdwWhen one thinks of urbanization, one thinks of commerce and industry and housing and other infrastructure requirements for making the migration into cities attractive. A 2010 McKinsey report ( projected that by 2025, India will add 215 million people to its cities, making India’s projected 2025 population 38% urbanized. The 2011 census data shows that we have already reached 31.16%.  This figure was 28.53% in the 2001 census. On the background of a 1.3-1.4% annual population growth, migration to cities is therefore, a policy area which receives much attention from planners in India.

A major chunk of migration from rural areas to cities is currently seen in large numbers  of poor people coming for work in low paying semi-skilled or unskilled jobs in the construction industry or for jobs as taxi drivers or security guards or such other jobs in the service industry of cities. Another facet of this migration to Indian cities is the  observation that the migration of the poor into cities is only by the worker, while his family remains back home in the village. So this kind of urban migration is temporary in nature.

The usually observed fallouts of such temporary migration are the unauthorized occupation of public spaces by squatters or the mushrooming of visual eyesores called slums.  Another easy to see relationship exists between single, anonymous and temporarily migrant men in cities and the mushrooming crime.

But when looked at from the migrants’ point of view, the picture may seem a little different and requiring different and thoughtful solutions from planners. Temporary migration clearly does not help much in giving a fillip to upward mobility of poor families in terms of better opportunities to access better schooling or medical care, since these are not available in villages as they are in cities. So why does the migrating worker not shift his family to cities where such opportunities for betterment exist? Beside the obvious issue of lack of affordable housing, I think one major consideration for him is the lack of fair and dependable public services in health and policing-two areas of concern when one is looking at personal emergencies. Back home in the village too, these services are not supportive for the poor, but the families depend upon the close-knit community to help in these emergencies. Moving families to cities takes away this social support, since there are neither any such communities in cities to support each other nor are the services from hospitals and police stations fair and dependable, when the poor need them the most. Therefore, only the worker migrates temporarily to the city to earn better money and remit it home to the family.

Thus, migrations to urban areas in India are not efficient in their outcome as far as improving the lives of the migrant poor is concerned. On the other hand, it is increasing the anonymity in urban societies to a measure enough to scale up crime perceptibly, as most of our recent horror stories of heinous crimes on women and children and also terrorism related crimes have shown.

Urbanization policies in India may find it difficult to formulate policies to create communities needed for for the social support required, instead they could focus on other ways for making city bound migrations more family-based and therefore, more permanent. For this, what is needed in a significant way, are measures to make the emergency public services of policing and health in urban areas, fair and dependable. My earlier posts on the usefulness of crime victimization surveys are one way of making police services at the police station level more people-facing and accountable and therefore, fair and dependable for the poor. The state clearly has a huge role in improving the outcome of urban migrations by giving the same focus to develop these services, as is given to infrastructure in housing and transportation. Such a step will also significantly impact crime control and make cities safer.


Need for More Emphasis on Human Resource Management in Police

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdwPolice in India is all about what the corporate sector calls ‘front office’.  The ‘back office’ is minimalistic. The public face of police duties in crime detection, investigation, prevention and handling public order and the underlying to it all, the intelligence collection, all require tremendous support by way of post recruitment initial training and frequently repeated in-service training of the large police forces in every state. Further, there is need to look into motivational needs of such a large force, and these would range from basics like getting dues on time, to devising schemes which promote a feeling of bonding and contentedness of serving in the police.

The police organizations have their ‘welfare branch’ at the district levels to take care of the motivational needs. However, since its personnel are not specially selected for their aptitudes for this work, it is only effective if the district chief personally takes an interest in its working. All training, on the other hand, is typically centralized-in the police training schools and the state police academies. For example, Maharashtra has 10  PTCs for the constabulary, one Police Academy for officers, one Detective Training School, one Spl Security Training School and one Unconventional Operations Training Centre for its total current police manpower of 2,07,936. The centralized training architecture worked adequately in the times of the past when policing was not so perceptibly hectic with rising crime and law and order incidents, and it was feasible to withdraw personnel and send them for in-service training to the police training institutions for a duration of time.  Today, this is difficult and therefore, in most states, the police training institutions only impart the basic post recruitment training, while the periodic in-service element, which is critical for the state of competence of the personnel in their regular as well as specialized duties, is neglected. An associated fallout is the lack of large scale skills development required for specialized work like in cyber crimes investigations or even use of IT in routine crime investigation. Due to the lack of periodic training, there is also no institutionalized learning from past incidents, which is much required in crowd control or public disorder incidents.

What then seems needed is a dedicated and suitably trained HR team at every district/commissionerate level to look into issues of personnel motivation and competency development.  This would result in standardized, decentralized and regular conduct of in-service training across the entire police force, resulting in improving performance on handling law and order as well as investigating crime. It would also bring in fresh ideas from modern HR practices to keep up the motivational levels of the force.

This would involve restructuring the recruitment in police departments to recruit suitable personnel for leading teams in HR. Restructuring in an organization within government is a difficult task. But for organizations like the state police forces in India, which embody the largest manpower concentrations vis a vis any other government department in the state, and whose duties are more aligned to command and control, again unlike any other state government department, unconventional measures and outside the box thinking have to be adopted for improving efficiencies in police.

Fallouts of Poor Conviction Rates on Safety in Society

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdw is a voluminous but interesting document on the statistics of policing in India. At page 362, there is a table on conviction rate in cases sent to court for trial under the Indian Penal Code. The all India average for judgments convicting the accused is 41.1% of all chargesheets filed under IPC,  the spread being between 8.2% for Maharashtra and 89.5 for Mizoram, and most states falling in a range of 25-60%. After these initial conviction judgments by the magistrate or sessions courts, many of those found guilty would also appeal against those judgments in higher courts. This means that in most states in India, much less than half of all court trials are resulting in punishing the guilty.

The most obvious responsibility for these poor figures on conviction rates devolves on the police-it looks obvious that only a poor investigation would have led to the acquittal of accused in the court trial. But it would be important to dig deeper. Are there some other factors equally or maybe even more important than the quality of investigation that are affecting the conviction rate? If it is so, are we missing the wood for the trees in generating a solution to this problem through the easier route of more insistence on better investigation?

It would be useful to see the data. In the Bureau of Police R&D’s publication, Data on Police(, it is seen that in 2011, there were a total of 89,39,161 Indian Penal Code cases(including pending cases from the previous years) in the trial courts as compared to 85,49,655 during year 2010 showing an increase in pendency of 4.6 percent over the previous year. The cases in which trial is completed is only to the extent of approximately 13% every year. So a large number (approximately 87%) of cases remain pending with the courts in India every year, indicating that trials are lengthy and take on average, 5 to 8 years to complete. According to the data in the 2011 NCRB publication, Crime in India,  the duration of trial in 5.7% Indian Penal Code cases is more than 10 years. It is 5 to 10 years for 20.3% cases, between 3 to 5 years for 28.04% cases and between 1 to 3 years for 31.64% cases. So in more than 85% cases, trials go on for more than a year.  Since a significant portion of prosecution evidence is based on witness statements, such lengthy trials extending over many years leads to deterioration in the quality of evidence (hostile witnesses i.e. witnesses who do not give accurate account of that event, hostile complainants i.e. complainants who give tardy evidence in courts due to some more pressing current considerations which weigh on them vis-a-vis their original complaint, death of complainant/witnesses/accused) resulting in acquittal of accused due to lack of clear and incontrovertible evidence to prove guilt.

Similarly, the BPR&D data shows that only 70% of the exhibits sent by police for forensic examination undergo the required examinations within one year. The remaining 30% spills over for scientific examination into the next year.

My point is this-1. Better conviction rates will require a more efficient scientific evidence feeder from the Forensic Labs in the country, 2. Better conviction rate will also require faster court trials so that the majority of cases are completed within a period of 1-2 years after chargesheet and 3. Better conviction rate will work as an effective deterrent to crime and criminals and be a preventive strategy leading to a safer society.

The effects of more efficiency in the forensics and trials part of the criminal justice system  will also be felt on the quality of police investigation because of the feedback loop that such timely court judgments will establish. Presently, due to the lengthiness of trials, this loop is not very visible.

Can Preventive Policing be a Strategy for Police?

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdwThere have been many projects in preventive policing at the initiative of individually motivated officers in India.  In Maharashtra, these efforts have been seen for maintaining peace in areas which were frequently communally disturbed (like the  Peace Committees which were formalized as Mohalla Peace Committees by Mr Suresh Khopde, the  DCP of the area in 1988, after studying the 1984 Bhiwandi communal riots. Similarly, the Mohalla Committee Movement Trust came into being after the Mumbai riots of 1992 with the thought initiative of senior police officers like Mr Julio Ribiero and Mr Satish Sahney ), or for generally reducing levels of social tensions in rural Maharashtra, due to unresolved complaints, as in the Gram Tanta-Mukti Program started in 2007, for making villages resolve their non cognizable complaints(these are complaints which by law do not have ingredients for lodging an FIR under which police have legal powers to investigate) as well as compoundable cognizable complaints(these are complaints which have offences described under the law for police to conduct an investigation, but which can be voluntarily settled by the warring parties by agreeing to settlement terms before the court of law).

The results of the preventive program in Bhiwandi  have been visually impressive. There has been no outbreak of communal violence of the type seen in 1984 and frequently earlier, in Bhiwandi, despite the tense situations of 1992 and after. Though development schemes of the government in the area would also have contributed to the peace, the police-community contact program has surely added considerable contribution to the communal amity in the area. Similarly, the ‘tanta-mukti’ scheme for complaints’ resolution in villages may also have prevented crime by slowing down the social conflict arising due to lack of timely justice in individual complaints.

The above are only two examples of tackling problems in the bud. Most police station jurisdictions would have one significant area for such work, in a lesser or greater measure, but due to a lopsided emphasis on other police functions like detection of crime or keeping order(both done as post-facto activities after the event), the preventive aspect of police working(which can be quite creative) gets virtually no attention and funding in police budgets.

So, if police is to be seen as people friendly and not a constantly confrontational force vis a vis people, which to my mind, would be the desirable situation in any free, democratic country, preventive policing should be stressed as a critical function of every local police unit. Locally relevant preventive policing schemes require to be thought out by the local police structure, based on the predominant local problem and such schemes should be funded and their performance audited periodically by governments to maintain continuity.

Need for Collaboration with Teaching Institutions

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdwIn 2012, I was handling the procurement function for Maharashtra Police.  This job typically sees many firms doing their sales pitch to you and if you find an unusual product which could be useful for any particular outcome, it gets assessed for the possibility of purchase by tendering.

Before joining the IPS,  I was a medical doctor by training. And I could easily relate my above experience to the way doctors were approached by medical representatives.  There were also more similarities-much of the pharma innovation industry is based upon close collaboration with universities to develop new products customized for specific uses, quite like the collaboration between the government(security forces) and universities in the area of Homeland Security products industry in the US. The focus of this approach is i) the assessment of needs of the final buyer, i.e the patient in case of the pharma industry and the security forces in case of security products, ii)development of suitable product by the research teams and iii)the commercialization of the product by the industry. It is clearly a win-win for the industry, academia, economy as well as the user.

If that is so, what stops security forces in India from collaborating with our many excellent institutions like the IITs or IIITs or other good Engineering institutions, to locally develop cost effective products aligned to the customized needs of our security forces? Of course, this would require a policy shift in thinking and full backing of governments, since it would involve initially an assessment by the user of his own needs instead of the present vendor driven procurement process, the government and industry together will have to fund such product development, there will be need to have processes to patent and commercialize such products and finally there will be a requirement of assurance from security forces to buy these products so developed based on their needs assessment, from the open market.

But the interesting thing would be the stimulus such policy initiative will give to develop a local hi-tech security products industry and reduce significantly the scale of imports of hi-tech security products, while at the same time, give the government the satisfaction of funding applications based innovation and research in our own universities. The added bonus would be to encourage security forces to assess their requirements based on their own peculiar operating circumstance and get a customized product of much use to them. If you stretch this collaboration idea further, there could be huge benefits of similar collaborations in research in the social sciences,  between police and teaching institutions, for research based policing.