Which are the areas where spending could make an impact on the quality of police service in the shortest possible time? The output of good policing is directly proportional to the quality of police manpower. Given that the largest quantity of police manpower (more than 90%) is in its constabulary and police station officers, the effort for improving quality in output is clearly required for this level.
The Govt’s entry conditions of qualifications and salaries being a constant, the entry level manpower quality cannot be changed. The effort then has to be focused on appropriately training the recruited manpower in order to achieve a multipler effect on output by having the workforce achieve more on the job. And here is where easy to use technology should be deployed.
But developing capabilities for the newer training requirements is dependent on training infrastructure, which will take some time to develop. Also, the job environment of the constabulary and police station officers, after the initial training, should be able to use the enhanced capabilities created by such state of the art training. Therefore, initial training of the constabulary and investigation officers needs to focus on developing ability of the workforce to use IT.
Police needs IT customized for its needs in manpower management as well as operational requirements from the police station beat level up. Traffic policing needs to use multiple databases on registration of vehicles, stolen vehicles and record of traffic violations. Further, the IT hardware with access to these databases should be in the hands of the traffic constable on the road so that the enforcement actions (including issuing challans) of the traffic policeman on the road are done effectively. For the beat constable to be effective and doing his job responsibly as a professional should, he would need to be adequately equipped with information on crimes, criminals and other issues of concern in his area like missing children, household violence etc. IT can make this information flow simple. For better supervisory ability of the beat officer on beat patrolling, IT can be put to use to record, transmit and store in real time the daily patrol observations of various beats in the police stations. The police station investigation officers can beneficially use IT hardware to ease their work at the scene of crime in the drafting and printing of panchnamas and photographing and storing real time information of the scene of crime. These investigators will also need access to databases on crime and criminals.
The voluminous task of having a pan-India database of crime and criminals linking the data of all states, and creating a single software for use of police from registration of complaints onwards, has been taken up by the Govt of India and is work in progress. However, much can be done in incremental steps in the states to hasten the information flow into the hands of the constabulary and investigators and thereby improve their performance.
This can begin with developing an IT wing within each state police to be the one-point-stop for planning, implementing(including continuous training of the users) and running all IT projects in the state. The next step can be reviewing the police IT projects in various states and central forces on matters like traffic, personnel management, inventory management, court pairvi management, IT in communications, intelligence, investigations or any other area of policing, and picking up the successful projects for staged implementation in every state. This will prevent wasteful effort in reinventing the wheel and at the same time scale up the capability of frontline policing across states considerably.