Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Police Story!!!!

Excerpt from

Dr. Kiran Bedi:

About Me: I am a serving member of the Indian Police Service (IPS). As destiny would have it I became the first woman in India to join this service, in 1972. I have believed in Policing as a 'Power to Correct and the Power to Prevent'. Therefore my whole approach to policing has been around this belief. Be it in district police, or prison management.
Without working for rewards, many came my way. The most coveted being the Magsaysay Award in Government Service, also called the Asian Noble prize. My belief in the concept of 'Welfare Policing' made me institute two non-profit organisations, namely, Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation which reach out to thousands of children and women in education, training and counselling in slums, villages and prisons. Besides also running residential drug rehab center for drug addicts. I am a Doctorate from IIT delhi, A Law graduate and a Nehru fellow. I have authored five books besides being a regular columnist in national dailies.

Her Question :

What measures would you like to see to make the Police Forces more accountable to citizens?

Tragically, the Police force today is seen to serve the best interests of political parties, bureaucrats, businessmen and other such entities. For most police personnel, this is a way of survival. The purpose of police in any society is to maintain law and order and ensure public safety. Policing, like teaching and medicine, has a very intimate connection with social life and social change. Yet, the Police are hardly seen in such terms by citizens. At best, there is a sense of cynicism and at worst, even fear of the Police forces. How do we insulate policing from such negative political and bureaucratic interferences to make it fully accountable to law and civil society?

My Answer:

The sense of cynicism and fear, both are not misplaced, mainly due to past experiences and media reports. Also I think if even if a morally upright and honest police offer wanted to be that way, he wouldn't be able to last very long, especially if he happens to be from the lower rungs of the constabulary, mainly due to peer pressure and due to insufficient monetary compensation.

To improve the accountability of the police forces, a few measures could be,

Insulate the forces from the bureaucracy and the politicians. This would include bringing about an enhanced level of professionalism

Make the policemen people friendly, change the image of the everyday policeman we meet on the streets by making him aware of the people's problems in approaching him. Equip the police force with more soft-skills and lots of sensitivity in handling matters which are emotional to the people. Also needed is a change in the attitude towards women especially the vulnerable ones.

Some sections of the society such as prostitutes, eunuchs, street urchins need to be looked at not as just another case but as people who are really disadvantaged socially and otherwise.

These skills need to be followed up with more serious and important activities of reducing crime rates, faster action in cases involving homicides, rapes etc… where evidence collection is extremely time-bound.

Another important aspect to be addressed is the removal of corruption by effective self-redressal mechanisms (the ACB not being as effective as it should be).

Lastly an increase in the remuneration to the policemen in keeping with the current inflationary trends should be provided if necessary so that a policeman can also provide a decent life to his wife and children.

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