Police reform is imperative but we first have to understand the key issues involved. A 188 page report created by Common Cause and the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies helps us with this. We break down the highlights for you.
From bias to brutality, the police force has come to be the face of the failure of India’s criminal justice system. Even so, police reform, though long overdue, has been neglected by successive governments. Arguably, it is one of the most crucial systemic overhauls the country needs. But before delving deeper into the treatment, we need to understand clearly and comprehensively, what ails the police force.
Here are highlights from a report created by Common Cause in association with the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). It is based on year-long fieldwork interviewing close to 12000 police personnel inside police stations or at their residences across India (21 states) as well as 10,595 of their family members.
The highlights cover the adequacy of police structures, resources and infrastructure available to the force and the working conditions of the personnel as well as questions of diversity, bias and autonomy.
Personnel Strength & Training
- The force works at roughly 3/4ths of its capacity. The strength of the force as a percentage of its sanctioned strength across the country is 75.2%.
- When police strength is analysed rank-wise, the data reveals that vacancies are greater at the officer-level. The strength of the constabulary (actual to sanctioned percentage) is 75.6% while the same number for officers is 74.2%.
- The data reveals that the level of training imparted to personnel is poor across all states. On an average, just 6.4% of the total actual police strength has been given in-service training in the last five years for which data is available (2012-2016), and the percentage has been constantly decreasing over the years.
- Haryana and Tamil Nadu have the highest in-service training percentages, with about one in five personnel from both states being provided in-service training. Gujarat has the poorest average of in-service training, with an average of less than 1% of its personnel having received such training in the last five years.
- The percentage of constabulary receiving in-service training is much lesser than the percentage of other higher-ranking officers, despite the constabulary constituting the majority of the share of the overall police strength.
- Although almost every police personnel reported having been trained in modules of crowd control, physical training or weaponry, more than one in two respondents reported that the last training they received was at the time of joining the police service, suggesting that in-service training is taking place rarely.
- About 85% of the civil police reported that they received training on new technology. However, a little less than three-fourth of the civil police reported that they received any training on cybercrime and just about two-third of the civil police personnel reported that they had received any training on forensic technology.
On an average, just 6.4% of the total actual police strength has been given in-service training in the last five years for which data is available (2012-2016), and the percentage has been constantly decreasing over the years.
- Further, the report asks how diverse the force is, particularly because a 2000 study found that a more diverse police force is seen by the community as more legitimate, and the people are more likely to take ownership in policing when a department is diverse.
- Data reveals that at the national level, SCs, STs, OBCs and women are under-represented in the police force. Further, the distribution of the force is such that STs and women are less likely to be posted at officer level, compared to the overall proportion of officers in the police force.
- As noted in SPIR 2018, the vacancies within the reserved posts for SCs, STs and OBCs are notable, with only four states being able to fill the vacancies for SCs, and eight states each for STs and OBCs.
- The representation of women in the police force is even worse, with only 7.3%
women police personnel at the national level in 2016. None of the states have been able to meet the 33% benchmark set out by the MHA, with Tamil Nadu having the highest representation of women at 12.9% in 2016.
- Bear in mind that women are needed in the police force, not just for reasons of diversity, but also for clear legal requirements. These include escorting female victims/accused, recording statements from women or children who come in contact with the police, and much else.
...only 7.3% women police personnel at the national level in 2016. None of the states have been able to meet the 33% benchmark set out by the MHA, with Tamil Nadu having the highest representation of women at 12.9% in 2016.
Working Conditions & Quality of Life
- How does the shortage of staff play out? Indian police personnel are stretched and stressed. The survey of personnel finds that on an average, a personnel works for about 14 hours a day. Three out of four personnel felt that their workload was affecting their physical and mental health.
- The authors use caseload as a proxy for overall workload of the personnel. It needs to be noted that investigation is only a part of policing duties and therefore does not give an accurate picture of the workload in its entirety.
- About 80% police personnel work for more than 8 hours a day.
- Except Nagaland, the average working hours of personnel is between 11 to 18 hours in all of the selected 21 states.
- Nearly one in two personnel work overtime regularly, while eight out of ten personnel do not get paid for overtime work.
- Nearly three out of five respondents from the families of personnel were dissatisfied with the government provided housing quarters.
- One out of two personnel do not get any weekly off days.
- Three out of four personnel believe that their workload is affecting their physical and mental health.
- One out of four personnel reported that senior police personnel ask their juniors to do their household/personal jobs even though they are not meant to do it. SC, ST and OBC personnel are more likely to report this than other caste groups.
- Two in five police personnel report the use of bad language by senior officers.
- 37% personnel are willing to give up their jobs for another profession, if the perks and salaries remain the same.
Working Conditions for Policewomen
- They find that at the national level, the case investigation load for women police officers for cases of crimes against women and children, at 39 cases per female officer, is comparable to the overall case investigation load for total cognisable crimes, at 36 cases per officer.
- Almost half of the women police personnel (48%) reported not getting any weekly off. What’s more, just about 29% of the female personnel reported getting one day holiday in a week.
- Their data makes a case for the need of better representation of women in the police force, and higher recruitment of women at the officer-level ranks. Even in a scenario in which, as per NFHS data, 99% of cases of sexual assault go unreported, the caseload is relatively much higher for women in the police force in 16 of the selected states studied.
Gender & the Police Force
- The report then turns to taking a more granular look at gender and the police force.
- They find that more women police personnel reported performing ‘in-house’ tasks, such as maintaining registers/data, dealing with the public and filing FIRs, NCRs and other complaints. Conversely, a higher proportion of male police personnel reported performing ‘on-the-field’ tasks like investigation, patrolling, providing security to VIPs, maintaining law and order, etc.
- Despite the Swachh Bharat campaign, more than one in every five women police personnel (22%) reported not having a separate toilet at the police stations.
- Nearly one-fourth (24%) of the police women surveyed reported the absence of a sexual harassment committee in their workplace or jurisdiction despite it being mandatory.
- Nearly two in every five policewomen (37%) said that they are willing to quit the police force and go for another job if the salary and perks remain the same, indicating a high level of dissatisfaction with their profession.
- More than half of the overall police personnel sample admitted that men and women in police are not ‘completely’ treated equally.
- In order to analyse the overall attitude of police personnel towards the women in police, the report uses a composite prejudice index arrived at by asking personnel a couple of questions. They find that one in every four male police personnel has a ‘high’ degree of bias against women in police, while a significant proportion of male police personnel were also found to have a ‘medium’ degree of bias.
- On being asked about the last time they received training on gender sensitisation, one in every 10 police personnel reported never getting any such training, whereas, two in every five police personnel received this specialised training only at the time of joining. Further, policewomen were more likely to report receiving gender sensitisation training than policemen.
On being asked about the last time they received training on gender sensitisation, one in every 10 police personnel reported never getting any such training, whereas, two in every five police personnel received this specialised training only at the time of joining.
- One in every five police personnel is of the opinion that complaints of gender-
based violence are false and motivated to a very high extent while almost an equal number of police personnel believe the complaints to be false and motivated to a high extent. There was very little variation on the opinions of male and female police personnel on this issue.
- A little less than one in 10 police personnel feel that Hijras and transgender
people are naturally prone towards committing crimes. More than a quarter (27%) police personnel feel that they are ‘somewhat’ naturally inclined towards committing crimes.
Caste & Religion
- Less than half of the police personnel feel that SCs and STs within the police are given completely equal treatment when compared to other caste groups. SC and ST personnel are more likely to believe that discrimination exists.
- Almost one in three personnel feel that religious minorities within the police force are not given completely equal treatment. Sikh personnel are most likely to hold this opinion.
- 14% personnel feel that Muslims are ‘very much’ naturally prone to committing
crimes, while 36% feel that Muslims are ‘somewhat’ naturally prone to committing crimes.
- One in five police personnel believes that complaints under the Scheduled
Caste / Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are very much false and motivated. Upper caste personnel are more likely to be of this opinion.
One in five police personnel believes that complaints under the Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are very much false and motivated. Upper caste personnel are more likely to be of this opinion.
Migrants, Children & Cowslaughter
- 24% personnel believe that migrants are very much naturally prone to committing crimes, 36% personnel feel that they are ‘somewhat’ naturally prone to committing crimes.
- Two out of five police personnel think that children in conflict with law between
the ages of 16 to 18 years old should be treated like adult criminals.
- 35% personnel feel (to a large extent and somewhat combined) that it is natural for a mob to punish the culprit in case of cow slaughter.
35% personnel feel (to a large extent and somewhat combined) that it is natural for a mob to punish the culprit in case of cow slaughter.
- In the landmark judgement of Prakash Singh vs Union of India, 2006 the Supreme Court directed the states to introduce legal amendments to ensure that, except under extraordinary circumstances, key police officers be guaranteed a minimum tenure of two years. This was to ensure that political interference is minimised at the posting and transfer levels, and police personnel have the “operational autonomy” to function efficiently without the threat of premature transfers.
- For studying police autonomy, the authors analysed the data on transfer of SSPs and DIGs in less than two years. Data for a 10-year period, from 2007 to 2016, was studied and analysed.
- Since 2007 (post the Prakash Singh judgment), the percentage of premature
transfer of officers (of the ranks of SSPs and DIGs) has gone down significantly from 37% in 2007 to 13% in 2016, amongst the selected states. The judgment, therefore, appears to have a tangible impact on curbing the practise of undue and premature transfer of officers due to political and bureaucratic interference.
Since 2007 (post the Prakash Singh judgment), the
percentage of premature transfer of officers (of the ranks of SSPs and DIGs) has gone down significantly from 37% in 2007 to 13% in 2016, amongst the selected states.
- However, despite the decline in the percentage of transfers over the years at the national level, it continues to be high in many states, particularly in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
- Further, there seems to be a direct relationship between elections and transfers, with transfer percentages going up during or around election years in states. For instance, 98% of the SSPs and DIGs were transferred in Rajasthan in 2013, 32% officers were transferred in Haryana in the year 2013, and consistently between 28 to 53% officers were transferred in Jharkhand in all election years.
There seems to be a direct relationship between elections and transfers, with transfer percentages going up during or around election years in states.
- In states such as Chhattisgarh and Gujarat percentages of transfers in election years were found to be higher even when the party in power had not changed in over a decade.
- Survey data reveals that 28% police personnel believe that pressure from politicians is the biggest hindrance in crime investigation
- One in three personnel have very frequently experienced political pressure in the course of crime investigation. 38% personnel reported always facing pressure from politicians in cases of crimes involving influential persons.
- Three out of five personnel reported transfer as the most common consequence of not complying with such external pressures.
Two quick points to bear in mind when it comes to analysing infrastructural capabilities of the force –
1) A large proportion of the police expenditure is incurred on the salaries of personnel, and resultantly there are limited funds to cover costs of general maintenance and acquisition of vehicles, communication equipment etc. Thus, from 1969-70 onwards, began the Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) scheme, under which the Centre provided 60% share of the expenditure on police modernisation for most states.
2) The analysis of police infrastructure is done by studying the status of two essential features of infrastructure—police access to communication facilities and transportation facilities. For the communication facilities, the focus will be on basic communication facilities such wireless and telephones, along with digital communications facilities such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS).
- The average percentage of police stations across states not having access to wireless devices was 0.5% for the year 2016. While this percentage appears miniscule, in absolute figures it translates into 70 police stations across the selected states which do not have the basic communication infrastructure of wireless devices.
- Within this category, the worst performing states are Jharkhand with 22 such police stations, Punjab with 16 police stations, Uttar Pradesh with 14 police stations, Nagaland with 13 police stations and Odisha with three police stations.
- The average percentage of police stations across selected states not having access to telephones was 1.5% for the year 2016, which comes out to be 224 police stations.
The average percentage of police stations across selected states not having access to telephones was 1.5% for the year 2016, which comes out to be 224 police stations.
- Over the last 10 years for which data is available (2007–2016), the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh have consistently performed poorly on this metric.
- The average percentage of police stations across states not having access to both wireless and telephones was 0.2% for the year 2016, which is around 24 police which do not have any of the basic communication infrastructure—neither telephones nor wireless.
- These police stations are concentrated in only three states, namely Nagaland (11 police stations), Jharkhand (11 police stations) and Odisha with 2 police stations.
- Beginning in the year 2004, the project known as the Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA) was introduced with the intent of digitisation of instances of crime and criminal records at the police station level.
- Over a period of time, this thought evolved from a micro perspective to a macro one, resulting in the conceptualisation of a system which would entail linkages between police stations across the country for aiding investigations and providing citizen-centric services. This idea found basis with the creation of the CCTNS program as a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2009.
- Till December 2018, the compliance score for the states’ average was 78.3%. This was calculated on the basis of selected variables from the Pragati Dashboard which were focused on the adequacy of CCTNS infrastructure.
- The survey data shows that only two thirds of the police reported having access to fully functional computers. 8% personnel, overall, said that functional computers are never available at their police stations. 31% respondents from West Bengal and 28% respondents from Assam said that a functional computer was never available at their police station/work place.
- 17% of personnel said that a functional CCTNS software is never available at their police station/workplace.
- However, the data released by the MHA in January 2019, states that 14,724 police stations out of 15,705 police stations (approximately 94%) have been able to enter the FIR’s (First Information Report) on the CCTNS software. This suggests a contradiction between the reported official data and the actual situation on the ground.
17% of personnel said that a functional CCTNS software is never available at their police station/workplace. However, the data released by the MHA in January 2019, states that 14,724 police stations out of 15,705 police stations (approximately 94%) have been able to enter the FIR’s (First Information Report) on the CCTNS software. This suggests a contradiction between the reported official data and the actual situation on the ground.
- Moving on to transportation, about 1.8% of the police stations across the selected states do not have access to a single vehicle. In actual numbers, that amounts to 240 police stations, a staggering number of police stations with no vehicles.
- It is observed that while in case of heavy-duty and medium-duty vehicles there are deficits across police stations, in case of light-duty vehicles the availability is much higher.
- Overall the only states without a deficit in vehicles for police forces are
Telangana, Kerala, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.
- Uttar Pradesh is the worst performing state with an overall vehicular deficit of 57.8% for all vehicles in the year 2016.
Uttar Pradesh is the worst performing state with an overall vehicular deficit of 57.8% for all vehicles in the year 2016.
- The shortages as witnessed for the category of heavy-duty and medium-duty vehicles may also result in a problem of police mobilisation for emergency response tasks such as a terrorist attack, large scale disasters etc. These are among the many situations in which police deployment may not be best served by relying on light-duty vehicles and 2-3 wheelers.
- 46% personnel have frequently experienced situations where they needed a
government vehicle but it was not available. And, 41% personnel have frequently been in situations where they could not reach a crime scene on time because of lack of staff.
- The report finds that while it is clear that the monetary resources are being sanctioned for infrastructure, the inability of the states to secure resources is leading to overstocking in some arenas and gross deficits in others.
- The report also points to the limited strength of the police personnel and speculate whether they are being burdened with too many administrative duties in addition to their policing duties.
- Overall, on the adequacy parameters, Delhi, Kerala and Maharashtra have a better capacity for policing than the rest of the states, while Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh are the most poorly placed in terms of adequacy.
Overall, on the adequacy parameters, Delhi, Kerala and Maharashtra have a better capacity for policing than the rest of the states, while Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh are the most poorly placed in terms of adequacy.
- Further on the subject of infrastructure provided to the force, 12% personnel reported that there is no provision for drinking water in their police stations, 18% said there are no clean toilets, and 14% said there is no provision for seating areas for the public.
You can read the full report here:
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