Poor police to people ratio forces common man to fend for himself
How do we in India manage to survive with just one policemen per thousand people when countries Germany, Hungary, Spain and South Africa have almost 3 policemen per thousand and Thailand has more than 3??
Here are the statistics from nationmaster (this link is now updated, but the figures below have not been. So for the latest figures kindly go to the link. Thanks.):
Hong Kong: 4.79374 per 1,000 people
Malaysia: 3.43936 per 1,000 people
Thailand: 3.35665 per 1,000 people
Germany: 2.91153 per 1,000 people
Hungary: 2.88528 per 1,000 people
Spain: 2.86696 per 1,000 people
South Africa: 2.7668 per 1,000 people
Poland: 2.61367 per 1,000 people
Norway: 2.42412 per 1,000 people
Turkey: 2.38057 per 1,000 people
Australia: 2.09293 per 1,000 people
France: 2.049 per 1,000 people
United Kingdom: 2.04871 per 1,000 people
Switzerland: 1.93617 per 1,000 people
Netherlands: 1.92448 per 1,000 people
Denmark: 1.91716 per 1,000 people
Korea, South: 1.85461 per 1,000 people
Japan: 1.81103 per 1,000 people
Sri Lanka: 1.72484 per 1,000 people
Canada: 1.70767 per 1,000 people
Zimbabwe: 1.68859 per 1,000 people
Finland: 1.56347 per 1,000 people
Zambia: 1.13674 per 1,000 people
INDIA: 0.956207 per 1,000 people
Costa Rica: 0.370767 per 1,000 people
These stats were the latest available (2000). Data on the US was not given and I calculated the ratio to be around 2.8 per 1000 but this is based on 2004 figures…around the year 2000 it was around 2.6 per 1000. In most countries the ratios will increase or decrease slightly – in India it has decreased. This I will come to later.
What is disturbing is that India is second from last on that list. No wonder our policemen work around the clock, and forgo holidays. They are also a highly stressed lot. The public never ceases to demand more and more…
We know why our traffic situation is so chaotic. There simply aren’t enough policemen to control the traffic!
The Times of India quoted some figures, but as their data was only for a handful of countries, I decided to go to another source, in this case, nation master. The TOI has said in yesterday’s newspaper (in a small para adjacent to the small crime chart, no article came with it):
More than four new offenders are added every minute to further burden our (already slow) criminal justice system. Statistics show that the crime rate is on the rise in the megacities, putting under threat our engines of fast economic growth. We have one of the lowest police to population ratio in the world…this ratio is declining over the years and hence the percentage of cases investigated by the police is declining steadily. If we make a hypothetical assumption that all arrested people are offenders, the number of offenders is 4.5 times the total number of police personnel and more than 20 lakh (2 m) are added every year.
And as every Indian knows even these figures are misleading as a substantial number of our policemen are occupied with security duties for VIP’s, police bandobast (arrangements) at public events because of never-ending terrorist threats and also insurgency control in border states. The common man then has no choice but to fend for himself.
The poor policing could perhaps be one explanation for our fairly high violent crime rates, something which I have been wondering about for some time now. Going purely by homicides, India has a fair share of the world’s violent crimes. I have explained here why homicide figures are a good indicator of the level of violent crime prevalent in a particular country.
Crime in cities is rising..why?
What’s disturbing is the tend of rising crime in our cities. I think that this could be due to the rising incomes and lavish lifestyles in the cities with TV advertising and soaps displaying this pretty well. I was trying to find out the reasons for Stranger Crime (while most violent crime is committed by those known to the victim, stranger violence is more common in highly urbanised societies athough it can occur in rural areas too). From my limited knowledge and some reading on the internet I came up with these possible causes:
1) Feeling of anonymity and isolation
2) Lavish lifestyles which the perpretrator sees no hope of ever achieving.
3) Easy availibility of drugs and alcohol (dependency as a motivator for crime).
4) Urban gangs
In Stranger Crimes, money is thought to be the primary motive, although there can be more complex reasons as well.
As India is urbanizing rapidly and the economy is growing fast, it seems logical to assume that city crime will increase…in fact its already happening. The fact that our police to people ratio is getting worse is helping criminals.
What is the government doing to protect us?
Here the harsh reality: The government is broke…what else could be reason for this reluctance to hire more policemen? Well, I do know that we couldn’t be all that broke…because politicians are spending money (and mismanaging the funds) on a lot of other developmental activities, all of which they think are in ‘national interest’. The Police Force for some reason is not getting the priority it deserves.
And in this scenario is it surprising that a plethora of security agencies now dot the Indian security landscape? They are everywhere, in schools, outside buildings, some even patrolling societies and major roads like Marine Drive! In some cases, citizens themselves have formed grouped to patrol their area. Whats worrying is that many of the security agencies are fly by night operators who are often hand in glove with criminals…but thats another story…
An evil outcome of the shortage of policemen is mob violence. Rampaging mobs are becoming common and destruction and violence is seen as a solution for almost every perceived crime. And because of the weak arm of the law, the rioters themselves are not brought to book. We all need to protest mob violence as anyone can fall a victim to it…
I think we should make strong demands to the government about increasing the number of policemen on our streets. The situation is already out of control and the future doesn’t look too good.
Update: These are some actual numbers I got from the TOI, Mumbai, got via the RTI Act. Mumbai’s police force has 41, 914 policemen and women for a population of 1.4 crore. A comparison with other metros:
Mumbai: 42,000 cops for 1.4 crore people
Delhi: 61, 000 cops for 1.6 crore people
Kolkata: 26,000 cops for 45 lakh people
Chennai: 14,000 cops for 86 lakh people
Bangalore: 13,000 cops for 50 lakh people
However one has to keep in mind that a large section of the police are on security duty and this is more so in cities like Delhi which has more VIP’s. However VIP visits are very common in cities like Mumbai as well.
Update 18th May 08. Times of India released some figures which say that India has 143 policemen per lakh of population (Jan 2007 figures) as compared to 200-250 in advanced countries. We are below the UN norm of 222. Vacant posts in the armed police – 13.8 percent, civil police – 9.8 percent (Bureau of Police Research and Development.)
As on January 1, 2007, the existing police strength in India stood at 14.1 lakh, although the sanctioned strength is 15.7 lakh ( 143 cops per one lakh population)…
The actual strength of civil police at the end of 2006 stood at 10,91,899 against a sanctioned strength of 12,09,904. Maharashtra had the highest number of civil police with 140,089 personnel, followed by UP, which had 119,893 policemen.
As against the nearly 11 lakh civil police, strength of armed police stood at 314,122. UP has the highest contingent of armed police (33,400), followed by Assam (23,708) and Madhya Pradesh (21,607). Only in four northeastern states — Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura — was the strength of armed cops more than that of civil police.
(All pics are by me except for the third one, which has been taken from cnn-ibn)