PM's National Conference with SPs

A National Conference of Superintendents of Police with Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh is to be held on 1st September, 2005 in New Delhi. The MHA website informs us so. About 400 District SPs from all over the country are expected to participate. A couple of months ago it was the District Magistrates that interacted with the PM. The current welcome initiative is seen as a positive step in tune with the Prime Minister's earlier announced steps to reform bureaucracy and revamp the administration.

In a run up to this conference, preparatory regional workshops have been held at Hyderabad, Guwahati, Srinagar and Mumbai in June and July. Eight core areas of policing were selected for deliberation. Areas zeroed in on: (i) Improvement in the delivery in police service to the people; (ii) Community participation; (iii) National Security challenges (terrorism, militancy, organized crimes, etc.); (iv) Criminal Justice Reforms; (v) Recruitment, Training and Human Resource Development; (vi) Rural and village policing; (vii) Problems of urban and metropolitan policing; and (viii) New Challenges in the context of technological advancement and economic development.

Discernible was a healthy realisation that efficacy of a police organisation is judged by its efficiency in the delivery of police service to the people. Basic impediments of infrastructural and organizational nature which come in the way were identified: like - lack of minimum resources (accommodation, furniture, stationery, vehicles with adequate POL for mobility, budget for feeding witnesses / suspects, etc., in police stations; long working hours for the constabulary and other cutting-edge level functionaries; undue reliance on crime statistics in evaluating police performance, impeding free registration of crime; and uncertainty of tenure for SHOs and other key functionaries.

It was felt, many duties in the existing archaic laws and police manuals that fritter away considerable energy, time and other resources, could be outsourced. Like process service and escort of prisoners. This, in the hope of addressing to an extent the problem of manpower shortage.

The need to improve morale and motivation of the constabulary and other cutting-edge levels, through evaluation of the efficacy and effectiveness of existing welfare measures. And to establish a credible, institutionalized mechanism to effectively deal with bonafide public complaints against the police.

Not ignored, the need to evolve strategies to influence people's age-old perceptions and attitudes (a hang-over of the colonial rule) - to bring about greater public participation in policing. A number of individual initiatives and noble experiments undertaken in different parts of the country - existing or fallen in disuse, to be evaluated for adoption in an institutionalised manner - preferably with the back-up of a legal framework.

The effect of the paradigm shift in warfare strategies of belligerent nations, throwing up major national security challenges like organized crime, terrorism, militancy, major acts of subversion and sabotage, large-scale circulation of counterfeit currency, etc. The desirability for listing some of the internal security related offences as 'federal offences'.

On the Criminal Justice Reforms front, the System has inherent handicaps resulting in most criminals going scot-free. This has caused serious disillusionment among the public. There is need to examine the processes of registration, investigation, prosecution of cases and trial by judiciary.

The need then, to induct the right kind of human material - the steps in terms of recruitment, training and development, in the belief that amiable, well-qualified, well-trained and motivated personnel are a sin qua non for efficient policing.

It is believed that much of the traditional policing system that existed in villages has become defunct or dysfunctional. Likewise the problems of urban and metropolitan policing - students, labour, white collar; larger variety and higher complexity of unorganized and organized crime; throwing up additional regulatory functions like bandobast for public and social gatherings, political meetings, sports events etc. And the resultant spontaneous explosion of law and order situations calling for extremely quick response, split-second decision-making ability, speedy action and direct (not only supervisory) involvement of senior officers.

So too the constantly emerging newer threats due to ever evolving grades of explosives, suitcase nuclear weapons, disastrous weapons of biological and chemical warfare, threats posed by cyber crime, counterfeit currency, credit card frauds, availability of sophisticated firearms - constant reminders of disastrous consequences of the otherwise valuable scientific and technological advancements. An admission here, of the utter lack of knowledge among police personnel in these complex fields.

And then the impact of economic development - though the harbinger of prosperity on one side, simultaneously creating greater opportunities for conventional crime, emergence of newer crimes including bank frauds, investment and stock-market frauds, cheating by fly-by-night companies, smuggling of drugs and other contraband, illicit trafficking of humans (women and children) and human organs; video-piracy and intellectual property related crimes, industrial espionage, computer crimes, credit card crimes and so forth. Also, the growth of social tensions leading to violence between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' - the need to appreciate the intricate dynamics of social and economic development.

The SPs, one is told, did deliberate to come up with practical, cost-effective and implementable solutions - to be then projected before the Prime Minister. A feedback from some of the participants indicated though, that the regional workshops were more a platform for the worthy moderators chosen from among the senior echelons of the 'has been's of yester-years, and not really an opportunity for free and frank pulse tapping and assessment of current field operators. There was also a marked difference in the views expressed by the younger lot - the dynamic direct recruits in the IPS, and the field-experienced more sagacious older lot promoted from the State cadres!

900 words: 30.08.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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