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.

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7 thoughts on “Can Preventive Policing be a Strategy for Police?

  1. The lopsided emphasis on police duties is not due to detection of crime etc. These are also very important aspects of policing.
    However other duties, such as VIP protection, bandobast duties, etc eat up a huge chunk of their time.
    Any festival will bring with it a huge extra burden on our police force, and we have no dearth of such festivals all the year round.
    Any VIP worth his salt must have a posse of policemen to guard him.
    Where does the common man stand a chance in all this?

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    1. Naseem, thanks for your response. Your point on the workload on police in all those duties you have mentioned is absolutely valid as far as the dearth of manpower in police is concerned. Police in India have a police population ratio of 137 per 100,000 population as compared to say UK which is 307 and USA which is at 256, as per 2011 figures.
      However, an emphasis on preventive policing could have a favourable impact on lessening crime and public order maintenance workload on police, despite this dearth of manpower.

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      1. I agree completely. The point being, lessen the burden on our forces so they can devote time and thought to such productive endeavours

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      2. Madam, educating people from school level with ethics n moral values would improve situation a lot i addition to preventive policing. As rightly said by Naseem sir, police personnel is being used for VIP duties which can be reduced in the better interest of society at large.

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      3. Mr Srikanth, thank you but I have never been called Sir! Madam, many times…😊😊..
        I agree with what you say about teaching our children moral values. .in fact in school we would have a moral science period. .
        But far more effective is teaching them through example. . If parents take the law lightly, show scant respect for others, foster communal feelings, that is what the child will learn.
        Pradnya, if the police could involve the citizens of the area, get to know them, it would help I think..
        People must know their local policemen.. the common man is always wary of approaching a policeman.. that should change. Citizens could become the eyes and ears of the police.

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  2. Thanks for a thoughtful piece. Preventive policing does not yield measurable results and herein lies the rub. Nonetheless, it is extremely vital for successful police work. It has to be stressed at training level and a reasonable measuring scale invented. In the long run, the diminishing crime statistics will speak for themselves. Police leadership should commit themselves to encouraging preventive policing in letter and spirit.

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    1. Preventive policing is going to be a big imperative for us as it has fallen into disuse. The first objective enunciated for modern police by Sir Robert peel was prevention and detection of crime. I remember to have read a research paper in 1996 from montreal school of criminology in which they had interviewed 50,000 hardened criminals globally and had recommended ways to reduce crime. It was great treatise on preventive policing and almost mirrored the working of our police till 1970. Thereafter, we forgot many lessons and new generation of police officers could not gain it because of poor documentation practices. The western world picked up this aspect around 1950 and have developed into a precise science being practiced all over. Let us try to relearn and adopt it at basic unit level. Vinod k singh up-77

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