By Divya Sharma, Symbiosis Law College, Pune
Every citizen is a policeman without uniform and every policeman is a citizen in uniform. This is the main philosophy of Community Policing. It is a philosophy of bringing out policeman out of citizen and citizen out of a policeman. It is going closer to the people for involving them in ensuring their own security. Thus, community policing can be defined as a proactive policing approach where police and people work together to ensure the safety and security of the citizens.
In the 1970s and 1980s, police services in England, Japan, Germany, Canada, and Singapore were experimenting with alternatives to the professional bureaucratic model of policing that was widening the gap between civilians and police officials. At that time, John Angell (1971) coined the term “democratic policing” to describe community policing. He called for a change where citizens have a voice in deciding how police services should be carried out in the community. After all, it is the citizens who pay taxes that support policing services and they should have a voice in deciding how police services should be carried out in the community.
Community policing indeed is a reorientation of policing philosophy and strategy away from the view that police alone can reduce crime, disorder, and fear. Police reliance on random preventive patrolling, post-incident investigations to identify and arrest offenders, and other reactive criminal justice system tactics do not go far in controlling crime and disorder. Community policing implies a basic change in the conception of the role of the police in society. It refers to arrangements of policing that accord a significant role to the community in defining and guiding policing in their locality.
Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), while recommending a model for community policing during 2003, referred to it as “normal policing of a society in consultation, cooperation, and partnership with the community at large”. According to the Bureau, the aim of Community Policing is “to prevent and detect crime, maintain order and ensure safety and security of the community in partnership with the people and to provide the community efficient, transparent and responsive law-enforcement machinery which perpetuates the rule of law”.
The basic features of Community Policing are as follows:
- Decentralization of decision making as community policing empowers field level officer to identify the problem with the help of local citizens, devise and execute a strategy to solve the same. He thus takes on the spot decision without waiting for instruction from the top. Tackling issues at the local level lead to speed and efficiency. Field officers welcome the decentralized system that empowers them and the local residents.
- Citizens’ participation is the most valuable content in community policing. In-fact they decide the issues they want to take on, priorities them and the police officer is either a catalyst or facilitator. Community policing is a broad concept and gives space to the weaker sections of the society including women, youth, and senior citizens. Community policing projects that are not inclusive in their approach remain limited in their output.
- Problem-solving is at the heart of this approach. Police and citizens meet not for simple interaction but with the specific purpose to delineate the problematic issues and resolve the same.
- Consultation is the process adopted for community policing; a police officer is not expected to decide the issues unilaterally, nor is it expected to be so on the part of citizens. The earlier semi-military models of law enforcement had no place for consultation with citizens that is the basic ingredient of modern day policing.
- Transparency is an essential characteristic for the success of any community policing project or citizens tend to lose faith it. Identification of local threats and the process to tackle them are to be debated and discussed in open forums before embarking on a particular strategy. Consultative process by definition is expected to be transparent.
There are no specific provisions about Community Policing under the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C). But its essence can be observed under this Code. Section 37 imposes a three-fold duty on members of the public, who are required to assist a Magistrate or police officer, (1) in the taking or preventing the escape of an offender; or (2) in the prevention or suppression of a breach of the peace; or (3) in the prevention of injury to railway, canal, telegraph or public property. Penalty for omission to do so is provided under Sec. 187, Indian Penal Code. Further, sec. 38 of Cr.P.C protects the person who renders aid in the execution of the warrant.
The aid must be rendered to a person to whom warrant for arrest has been directed for execution and such person must be near at hand and acting in the execution of that warrant. Also, sec.39 imposes a duty on every person to give information on certain offenses specified in Sec. (i) to (xii) of sub-s.(1). The duty ceases when the information has reached the police. However, penalty for breach is provided under in Sec. 176 and 202 of I.P.C. Lastly, sec.40 of Cr.P.C, castes a duty on village officers and personal residents in villages to immediately give information about certain offenses and also take about a certain state of things to the nearest Magistrate or Police officer.
In India, law enforcement is a state subject, therefore, there has not been anyone initiative from the top i.e. the Central Government level but many at the local police station, district and state level ones. Several states police such as Karnataka, Punjab, Kolkata, Uttarakhand, and Andhra Pradesh have defined ‘community policing’ on their websites and issued general guidelines for the public. Some of the community policing initiatives and experiments conducted by the states are listed below:
- Community Policing Initiative for Mumbaites
One of the community policing initiatives is the Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT). This is an experiment which mobilizes public opinion and increases public participation and activism towards creating more transparent and efficient governance.
The proposed activities of the project involves, initiating values and ethics among Police Force and Civil Society; to identify public concerns and their prioritization through sample surveys, research, focused group discussions with individuals and other groups including NGOs; to identify the specific issues/problems causing grievance to civil society and law enforcement agencies through experiences of public and police officials; initiating dialogue between the Police and Public and thereby develop and suggest remedial measures for the identified concerns; conducting attitudinal change lectures, workshops and seminars among the Police and Civil Society and taking police to educational institutions to instruct students about civic values and lastly by increased interaction of the Police personnel with other professional groups on specific issues of ethics in governance.
- Community Policing: Friends Of Police, Tamil Nadu
The Friends Of Police (FOP) is a holistic and pro-active concept that lends a psychological approach to policing. It is a true example of police-public partnership where citizens have been empowered along with the police. FOP provides opportunities for ordinary citizens to effectively contribute to the prevention and detection of crime. Any member of the public, male or female who is not involved in civil or criminal case can become a member of FOP. FOP members can also prevent any abuse of police power because of easy accessibility to the station house officer and other senior personnel. Role of FOP:
- Beats and night Patrols
- Assistance in traffic
- Crime prevention
- Information collection
- Assistance in Law and Order Maintenance
- Involvement in Prohibition Work
3. Samarth Yojna Community Policing Experiment, Coimbatore City
The city has witnessed two communal riots, violence, and inhuman brutality. There has also been an increasing level of criminal activities etc. It was because of this appalling situation that, Mr.K.Radhakrishnan, IPS, decided to implement a community policing experiment to bring the situation under control. The main objectives of this experiment were to perceive and resolve the communal problem and also to win the confidence and trust of the people.
- Trichy Community Policing
Before community policing was introduced in Trichy, the crime rate was very high. To challenge forces of fundamentalism and lawlessness, and instill a sense of confidence amongst the people, following community policing strategies were introduced:
- Beat Officers System
- Complaint/Suggestion Box System
- Wide Area Network (WAN)
- Helpline for Women in Distress
- Slum Adoption Programme
5. PRAHARI: The Community Policing Initiative In Assam:
The community policing initiative aimed at changing the attitude of the average policeman at the police stations towards the public, to make them people friendly and to improve their living and working conditions. The goal of PRAHARI was to tackle social problems and bring the police and community closer.
- Community policing experiment in Punjab:
Community Policing Resource Centres (CPRCs) have been set up in Punjab, which is autonomous registered “societies” jointly managed by representatives of the community and police officials. These units include one for victims of crime, one for non-resident Indians, and a unit set up specifically to serve women. As a result of this experiment, the reporting of domestic violence has tripled.
These initiatives and experiments conducted by various state police were quite effective and successful. However, there are some of the barriers to community policing that need to be addressed in any community policing initiative.
- The non-registration of complaint resulting in poor police image.
- Poor police behavior leading to poor police image.
- The belief within and outside organization that order in the society is maintained due to police fear. This fear is a major stumbling block in bringing people closer to the police. This closeness is a prerequisite for any community policing initiative.
- The organizational culture of secrecy and confidentiality is another barrier. Such a culture obviously can’t see any role for the people. It is true that police can’t disclose all the information to the people. But it is equally true that all the information is not confidential.
- The organizational culture of neglecting people.
‘Independence fundamentally changes the nature of the state – from a bureaucratic state to a democratic state; from a police state to a welfare state, leading to corresponding changes in the role of the police into people’s police as against ruler-appointed police. These changes, however, do not find expression in the institutional framework, in that the working of the police is governed by the Police Act.’ This was correctly pointed out by the Khosla Commission on Police Reforms.
The police-public rapport concerns the development of the country ensuring it as welfare and democratic state. Therefore, community policing has become an inevitable need of the hour. Many community policing initiatives taken by various states have been successful in its attempt. The Friends Of Police initiative has been effective over the last five years in Tamil Nadu whereas the Trichy initiatives were recognized by International Association Of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Washington and conferred International Community Policing Awards 2001, at Toronto. It was also selected for international innovations Awards Programme of CAPAM during a conference at Glasgow, Scotland, September 2002.
Justice Verma Committee, which submitted its report on January 23, 2013, recommended that Community policing should be developed by providing training to volunteers. It should have a specific provision under Cr.P.C, issuing functions and guidelines for the State Polices and creating awareness, trust amongst the public. Such coordination and understanding between the police and public will help curb crime in the community to a great extent.
Formatted on 28th February 2019.
 John E. Angell, “Toward an Alternative to the Classic Police Organisational Arrangement: A Demographic model, Criminology, 8 (1971) pp. 185-206 in Quint Thurman, Jihong Zhao and Andrew L. Giacomazzi, Community Policing in a Community Era: An Introduction and Exploration, Roxbury Publishing Company, Los Angeles, California, 2001, p.7
 Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, The Code Of Criminal Prodecure, 20th Edition, Pg. 59.
 Supra note 2.
 Policing India in the New Millennium, edited by P. J. Alexander, Pg. 950