Need for Police Reform Q&A
1. What is wrong with today’s policing?
2. What is the main reason for poor policing in India?
3. Has anyone talked about changing policing?
Click here for a summary of major recommendations on police reforms made by government-appointed committees.
4. What kind of policing should we have?
• As a service and not as a force
• As an upholder of the law and not merely as an enforcer concerned with maintaining law and order
This means it must do all its work in accordance with the constitutionally-mandated human rights framework and within the bounds of law as well as ensure that no one breaks it and if they do, then they are brought to justice. This means that the police must not only protect life and property but also protect the constitutional rights of each individual. As citizens in uniform entrusted with special powers and duties and not an alien privileged force isolated from the public. Modern policing relies on enjoying the support and confidence of society and especially of local communities. Each individual police person must therefore act lawfully, professionally, ethically, and with integrity and be accountable to the law as much if not more than any ordinary person.
5. Who can make police reforms happen?
Union and State governments must ensure that each police officer and the police as a service go about their functions and duties in a manner that respects human rights and the rule of law, builds confidence and cooperation with the community and is accountable for:
(i) all wrong-doing, including the failure to follow procedure; and
(ii) providing efficient, responsive and unbiased every day policing that is regularly evaluated and can demonstrate year on year improvement and public satisfaction.
6. What steps can be taken to achieve better policing?
i. Establishment of a State Security Commission: A bi-partisan body comprising of government representatives, leader of the opposition and members of civil society be established for providing policy guidance to the police and evaluating its performance. The Commission would act as a buffer between the political executive and the police leadership and is a way to make sure police have the functional responsibility while remaining under the supervision of the political executive.
ii. Selection and Tenure of the Director General of Police: The post of police chief in a state be appointed through a transparent process based on length of service, service record and range of experience, and the appointment must be for a minimum of two years.
iii. Security and Tenure of Officers on Operational Duties: Police officers on operational duties, including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station, also be provided a minimum tenure of two years.
iv. Separation of Investigation and law and order functions of the police: In order to encourage specialization and upgrade overall performance, investigative and law and order functions of the police be set up as different wings of the police.
v. Establishment of the Police Establishment Board: The Board made up of the DGP and four senior officers to decide on transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters
vi. Establishment of Police Complaints Authorities: Headed by a retire judge and with representation from civil society, Police Complaint Authorities be set up both at the state and district levels in every state to handle complaints against the police.
The Supreme Court hoped states would rise to the occasion and enact new police laws incorporating the directives.
7. Where are we with the reforms suggested by the Court?
8. Police stations are meant to be public spaces for all of us. How can they be made more approachable?
In addition to policy and legislative reforms directed by the Supreme Court, situation on the ground also needs improvement.
- The services that the public is entitled to should be listed and put up on notice boards inside every police station. Police stations could have an open visitors’ book where any member of the public can record their arrival time, name and signature.
- Upgrade all police stations so that facilities are available for the public, staff, records, accused, investigators and as far as possible standardized. Adequate budgets must be available for this.
- Equip police stations and lockups with CCTV cameras linked to police headquarters in order to prevent malpractice.
Maharashtra State government has been directed to install Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) with rotating cameras in every corridor, room and lock up of each police station so that every part of the police station is covered 24 hours of the day. The tapes of the CCTV shall be preserved for at least one year (Maharashtra High Court, August 2014).
- Make rude, impolite and inconsiderate behavior by police personnel to members of the public a serious act of indiscipline.
- Embed the beat system into local policing, with permanent, specially trained beat officers to ensure constant contact with the local community.
- Fill all vacancies in a time-bound manner.
- Raise the manpower strength of every police station in proportion to the crime and population of that area. This deployment shall be annually reviewed.
- Have adequate numbers of women in all police stations to fulfil duties under the laws relating to women and children. All police stations must have a Women and Child Protection Desk, staffed as far as possible by women police personnel to record complaints of crimes against women and children.
9. How can the police respond better to crimes against women?
• Immediately comply with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) advisories (April 2013, September 2009) requiring at least 33 % women representation in the police.
• Take swift action against any police officer who refuses to register an FIR for sexual offences, as required by the Indian Penal Code.
• Develop and make public specific operational protocols on the police response to, and investigation of, crimes against women, namely rape, domestic violence, molestation and sexual harassment, where needed.
• Conduct specialised training on crimes against women for Investigating Officers.