Monthly Archives: December 2013

IT in Policing

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdwWhich 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.

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Measurement gauge in policing

AIbEiAIAAABDCNHI9JDL38HrYSILdmNhcmRfcGhvdG8qKGRmZjM3Y2IyNGFiNzVkYTE5Y2QxOWM5YjVjZDg5YzZhODkzY2FhYmYwAeb12e_1DLWxFoaTlOyiwl7aGBdwThe peoples’ perceptions of effectiveness or otherwise of policing in a police station area or a district or the state or even for our country,  is largely intuitive, occasionally spiced up with newspaper reports on rising statistics of crime against women, crimes by juveniles or reports on violent crime. The data on crime as available in publications like ‘Crime in India’ or the states’ publications of similar title, is voluminous and suitable only for research or planning purposes. The common man, who is a significant stake holder in the extent of security in society, bases his judgment only on his own perception of the levels of crime he sees or experiences or hears about. He does not have a scientific barometer for his sentiment on security. Would it be possible to create such a measurement so that an easily understandable measure is available on a periodic basis? Also, would such measurement help in keeping public sentiment on crime and safety realistic rather than the current trend of the rare events creating disproportionate impressions on public mind ? And would this help the public dialogue on security to focus more on the positives like engaging in generating solutions to problems rather than the negatives like blame-game for the unsatisfactory state of policing?

While doing some work on planning in my present assignment in Maharashtra Police, I came across some sterling work done by a consulting company for Maharashtra Police a couple of years earlier. Their focus was on reorganizing and standardizing of the manpower deployment as per the output expected from every unit, like a police station, a district police HQ or a traffic unit. The idea was to see if the stress due to indefinite working hours and lack of leave availment  in the police department could be alleviated by such reorganization.

One of the interesting things they created were indices for levels of crime and levels of public disorder. The crime index can be created with different weights for serious crimes, other crimes punishable under local state laws for gambling, prohibition etc, number of noncognizable complaints recorded(in which police does not undertake investigation), motor vehicle thefts in the police station jurisdiction and such other broad factors reflecting levels of crimes in public and non-public spaces. Similarly, a ‘law and order’ index can be created giving weightages to factors like number of cases of rioting in the last ‘x’ number of years and the number of public places or premises in the police station jurisdiction at which police deployment has been created on long term basis.

Such annualized indices could capture a snapshot of the state of security and make it easy for people to understand the reality on the state of crime and ‘law and order’, just as the market indices like Sensex and Nifty capture the state of the market.

Police could use these snapshot measurements for proposing changes in their annual personnel recruitment and also as a management tool for reorganizing scientifically the existing manpower and resources to improve the capabilities of areas which are facing increasing problems. Used as a management tool, it can also promote less minimization of crime recording at the police stations since it will focus the senior management’s attention on discordant numbers on these indices.