The 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.