Sunday, October 12, 2008

Private Police!!

Private police can ease existing pressure on the department

Against the backdrop of bomb blasts and terror attacks, not only have most fingers been pointed towards our police force but there also seems to be intense discussions around restructuring the same. There have been talks like centralising the police force and to bring about coordination among various state police departments. No doubt, all these suggestions would invariably mean a more effective police network, but then the lacunae pertaining to security lapses lie somewhere else. According to latest official figures, Indian police is heavily understaffed – with some 1.5 lakhs vacancies! This also means that as a nation, we heavily fall short of the UN-mandated figure of maintaining a minimum of 222 police personnel for every one lakh citizens.

In fact, the problem is not just about lack of manpower. What is even more crucial is that the most sensitive and conflict zones of India have the maximum shortage of police personnel (Chhattisgarh - 7,000 and Jharkhand - 9,000 vacancies). On account of this shortfall, invariably most of the police personnel are overworked, and given the state of the nation, one can easily comprehend the conditions in which they need to work and perform. And needless to state, that the resources and equipment available to the force for combating all types of menace is not up to global standards (not even at par with that of the terrorists). Moreover, their responsibilities compound when the nation gets engaged in festivities and often lower the guard. In addition to this, the entire current police force is so politicised that the outcome is there are ad hoc duties and transfers, which have now become an inevitable part of the system. The stress and erratic duty hours (the concept of work-life balance seems to be absent) have been instrumental not just in alienating them from society and family, but also in reducing their social acceptability to a large extent. Starting from financial problems to family security, to bringing up their children, all are part of worries that a policeman needs to tackle. All in all, there isn’t any doubt that the department which is meant to ensure security suffers from a high degree of insecurity itself.

And when all of this comes along with a pittance in the name of remuneration, then the outcome is obvious – more than 50 per cent of total bribery cases filed in 2007 were against men in the khaki uniform!! Various researches state that today in the eyes of common man, Indian police is considered most corrupt – with as many as 80 per cent people interacting with that department have paid bribe for getting their work done. Police personnel are also found to be highly intolerant, abusive and at times, there have been cases wherein some have indulged in human rights abuse, rape, assault, murder (even of their own colleagues) and so forth. Probably for these very reasons, the state governments are failing to attract young educated men to join the police force. And thus the shortfalls remain and problems sustain. One wonders that after all, isn't this the time to agree to the idea of private police forces? Why can’t we have private companies operating as police force for petty issues like passport verification, tenancy verification, loss and minor thefts? And complete surveillance of these companies can remain under the existing government police machinery. This would not only ease out considerable pressures from our police, and leave them with more time to more important things pertaining to national security but also go a long way in terms of tackling the shortfall.


1 comment:

  1. Also, there should be an academic course in high schools on self-defense and alertness training as part of compulsory physical education.