A police station is considered the basic unit of policing. So if we enumerate what the functions of a police station are, we should get a good idea on the resource requirements for good policing. A police station is set up to cater to the detection and prevention of crimes taking place in a limited jurisdiction. It is also meant to keep the peace in that jurisdiction by appropriately handling law and order situations that may arise. It collects intelligence to support both these functions by preventing disruption due to crime and disorderly incidents and making itself better prepared to tackle situations if they arise.
As crimes and public disorder situations have become more complex over the years, specialized units came to be set up to take the load off police stations in each of its above mentioned functions. So in ‘Investigations’, there is a special department – CID, for investigation of large impact, complex and multi jurisdictional crimes. For terrorism related crimes, there are special investigation units like the ATS. For cyber crimes, there are Cyber Crime Cells.
When specialized handling of law and order is required, the Armed Police Reserve Units or special fighting squads for anti-terror or anti-naxal elite operations, are deployed.
For specialized and wider collection and appreciation of Intelligence, there is the Intelligence Department which has statewide jurisdiction.
Special police units are also created for specific purposes like, Womens’ Cells to handle domestic violence and such issues, or the Juvenile Aid Units for child victims or offenders.
Despite the specialization in niche areas, the relevance of the police station as the basic functional unit of the police department, to attend to peoples’ problems, remains paramount. The special units work only as enhancers of the effectiveness of the functions of the police station. In view of this primacy for the role of the police station within the structure of the police department, it becomes worthwhile to examine the cost of running a police station at the current average efficiency level-both in the urban and in the rural settings.
If one considers costs of only the operations of a police station(not the building and its maintenance and vehicles and their POL and salaries and allowances of personnel), for various activities required for ‘detection of recorded crime’, or costs incurred on unclaimed dead bodies or on towing unclaimed vehicles, the paperwork on translations and other activities involved in ‘preventive actions’ taken by police stations, expenditure in certain court processes like filing chargesheets in court, costs of citizens meetings before major publicly celebrated festivals like Ganpati, Mohurrum, Eid, Navratri etc, costs of other citizens safety related meetings like the Mahila Dakshata Samitis or senior citizens’ safety meetings, costs of minor hospitality like offering tea etc to visitors or complainants at the police station, organizing small training seminars at the police station level for its personnel, cost of forms and registers required by rules to be maintained in police stations and cost of stationery required, it is estimated that such costs would not be less than Rs 5-6 lacs per urban police station and Rs 4-5 lacs per rural police station per year.
Thus, the operational expenses of a police station come from its functional needs in detection of crime, prevention of crime, collection of intelligence, public relations and community policing, court related work, costs of prescribed forms and office stationery items and these needs require specific funds provision and easy access to those funds for the police station chief. In absence of this, the police station operational expenses are ‘managed’ from non-government sources, since the appraisal of the police station in charge is made on the general performance of his police station, which in turn depends upon all of the above police station operations.
What needs immediate attention:
1. Police budgets need to keep the police station as an operational unit for allocation of resources and expenditure, similar to how the police really works. The evil of corruption in police will never be addressed until the basic costs for the functions of a police station are catered to in government budgets.
2. Empower the police station chief with enough monetary powers to run the police station as an effectively functional unit.