Ought to be value-based
By Dr S Saraswathi
(Former Director, ICSSR, New Delhi)
It is imperative to bring about a qualitative change in policing and training of police. The opinion is of none other than Prime Minister Modi, which he shared with top police officials at the annual conference of DGs/AGs at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad recently. His advice, coming soon after his reference to creation of smart police, has immense practical significance. It is pointer to the creation of a value-based police trained in professional skills and imbued with qualities needed to handle human problems in human setting.
The PM emphasised that both technology and human interface were equally important in policing as the security scenario in the country had changed. Several technological devices are already introduced in crime prevention and detection work as the country is able and willing to accept modernisation in this field. But, on the side of improving the human aspect of the tough and rough job of policing, our record shows rather slow progress.
The fault is not entirely in the police organisation. The society has to set the standard for policing – the mission and vision – and help police to maintain the standard in its functioning. The police and the society it serves are interdependent and must cherish mutual respect and understanding.
Presently, people-police relationship is far from cordial. People do not normally seek police help unless compelled to do so in grave crimes and losses. Public engagement in police tasks, a concept accepted in many countries, is known in India also, but not much practiced.
Modi hinted that knowledge of certain human and social sciences were necessary for policemen. He mentioned inclusion of subjects like human psychology and behavioural patterns in the training curriculum for police forces and adoption of new training modules to improve leadership skills needed at various levels.
Compulsory indoor subjects in the training of police officer presently include law, legal procedure, forensic sciences, weapons training, etc. necessary for crime control, and also lessons in leadership and management, and ethics and human rights. A qualitative change is now sought to be introduced which, if adopted with suitable programmes, will lead to establishment of community-based, people-friendly, and problem-oriented policing in the place of mechanical law enforcing and coercive police authority.
The Mission Statement of the National Police Academy states that it will endeavour to inculcate in the students such values and norms as would help them serve people better, respect human rights, and acquire liberal perspective of law and justice, high standard of professionalism, physical fitness and mental alertness.
The Vision is upholding the Rule of Law and respect for national values such as secularism, democracy, equality, and service to people, and ensuring the dignity and human rights of the citizens with sensitivity. Way back in 1968, Khosla Commission on police reforms has said that “the Constitution has laid down that people themselves are the rulers, so the police must also be the people’s police”.
Since then, several organisational changes have been made and technological innovations have been adopted in the police. The verdict of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh case in 2006 gave seven binding directions to the States and Union Territories mostly relating to organisational matters.
Qualitative change in training is now due in all aspects of policing – crime detection and prevention and treating suspects, offenders, victims, and onlookers. The quest for quality training in police work is going on in many countries since the world has progressed from the concept of a purely police state to people’s democracy with the focus on people’s welfare. Though police in any kind of regime is a social instrument to protect life and property, it is looked upon mainly as a law-enforcing authority vested with required coercive powers to deal with people.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation of the US enumerates the crucial characteristics of an ideal police officer in one of its Bulletins as initiative, sense of ethics, knowledge of law, communication skills, common sense, civility, service mentality, humility, controlled temper, and thirst for new knowledge. Men in uniform in any democratic order must possess these qualities which can be taught and also self-promoted.
Laws are sought to be maintained by the police through orders, prescriptions, restrictions, prohibitions, warnings, apprehensions, and punishments. Police manuals govern day-to-day work. These forms of traditional police rule still hold good. There is need to adapt them to accommodate hard won expansion of freedoms – freedom of expression, civil rights, and human rights.
A true policeman has to observe the values of the community he serves within the parameters of law. There is, therefore, need to impart value-based training for police personnel to impart ability to respect individual and group rights while enforcing law.
Values are not mere abstract qualities. They are the guiding force of an organisation and the behaviour of its employees. They are basic to encourage excellence and to inspire enthusiasm. Organistional values stimulate quest for exemplary behaviour and a healthy competition for excellence among police personnel. They promote personal and professional standards. The police should respect the public and show courtesy while firmly discharging its duties.
The police is governed by rules and regulations for every action regarding what to do, when, and how. They have been developed over years of experience in dealing with law-breakers and criminals. There is little room for innovations and individual judgement within policy prescriptions and procedural guidelines. But a great deal of free space is available in taking cognizance of offences where police has the powers to take action without complaint. Here, the integrity and impartiality of the police personnel and the duty to preserve rights and freedoms come into play. This can be promoted by value-based policing alone. Integrity of the police is fundamental to legitimacy and public trust.
Values also help continuity of the organisation in times of turmoil and transition, regime changes, and leadership transfers. In the Indian context, values help police to stick to its principles and duties whenever government changes from one party to another. They help avoid intra-organisational conflicts.
Certain terms have come into common use to conceal common police excesses. Thus, abduction is presented as “informal arrest”, wrongful confinement as “illegal detention”, third degree torture methods as “interrogation in depth”, and police support for particular leaders/parties as “committed police”. Such excesses will have no place in value-based and quality-conscious policing.
State Governments are running State Police Academies for training State level police officials. These academies have also introduced teaching modules for qualitative improvements. The Kerala Police Academy, for instance, is planning to revise the syllabus to include modules to combat mental stress and physical fitness of the police. Yoga is already introduced in the basic training course.
The Mission of the Punjab Police Academy is to prepare police officials who will lead and command the force with courage, uprightness, dedication, and a strong sense of service to the people through emphasis on higher education, technological advancement, and human rights. Similar is the training in other States also.
We now need qualitative change in attitudes and behaviour of the police. It is necessary to train the police to be sensitive to the demands of the average citizens and to respond not only legally, but with a human touch. The goal is to make the police efficient, democratic, and humane. —INFA