There 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.