Common Cause and Lokniti Programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), launched India’s first Status of Policing in India Report (SPIR 2018) at the India Habitat Centre on May 9.

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- Ms. Nina Singh*


?? First rigorously evaluated Police reform project in the world.

?? 3-year collaboration between the Rajasthan Police and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA)

?? Objectives:

?? Enhance police performance

?? Improve public perception

?? Gather objective information

?? Action: 4 reform initiatives evaluated in 150 police stations, 11 districts:

1. Transfers frozen

2. Rotation of duties and weekly days off

3. Community Observer

4. Training


?? Police Commissions:

?? Broad, ambitious scope

?? Not fully implemented

?? Local initiatives

?? Many success stories

?? Little rigorous evaluation

?? Questions about scalability

Need for a middle ground:

Pragmatic, effective reforms that can be broadly and quickly implemented.


?? Many ongoing police reform projects:

?? ISO Police Stations

?? Case Officer Scheme/Hardcore scheme

?? Community Liaison Groups

?? Public relations trainings, yoga, etc.

?? But some enduring issues:

?? Effectiveness

?? Scalability

?? Lack of evidence on public and police perceptions


?? Goal: Improve effectiveness of programs by providing policy makers with clear scientific results that help shape successful polices

?? Applies randomized trial approach to a variety of projects in different fields

?? Health

?? Education

?? Governance Reform (such as Police Reforms)

?? Key Approach: Compare randomly chosen reformed ( treatment ) areas with random unreformed ( control ) areas and examine difference in outcomes


1. Pre-Pilot: September, 2005

1. Initial meetings: Gathering ideas

?? Police Personnel of all ranks

?? Judiciary/Magistracy

?? Media

?? Citizens from all social backgrounds

2. Identification of potential reforms


If successful, reforms should be implementable in all police stations. Thus they must be:

1. Low cost and simple enough to be implemented in any police station.

2. Capable of generating hard evidence of success.

3. Could be scaled up to all of Rajasthan if successful.


1. Pre-Pilot: September, 2005

1. Initial meetings: Gathering ideas

?? Police Personnel of all ranks

?? Judiciary/Magistracy

?? Media

?? Citizens from all social backgrounds

2. Identification of potential reforms

2. Pilot Stage:

?? Testing of potential reforms in 11 police stations in 3 districts

?? 5 potential reforms tested for a 3 month period

?? Feedback collection from police station staff

?? Unsuccessful reforms eliminated, i.e. 12 hour duty shift.

?? Decision on final reform initiatives


1. Transfers Frozen:

All administrative transfers frozen in selected police stations for duration of the project. Transfers permitted for misconduct or for constables with greater than 2years posting

?? Goal 1: Increased Transparency

?? Reduce inappropriate interference/ maneuvering for postings

?? Goal 2: Lengthen Posting Periods

?? Improve investigation through better knowledge of community


2. Duty Roster & Weekly Off:

All staff (except SHO) inselected police stations receive weekly off. Alduties assigned toall staff as perpreviously announced schedule. Duration of duty rotation varies according to local needs.

?? Goal 1: Increase Productivity

?? Better rested, more flexible, more efficient police force

?? Goal 2: Greater Transparency

?? Fewer opportunities for SHO favoritism

?? Goal 3: Improve Morale

?? More time off and less burnout due to rotation


3. Community Observer:

100+community members selected to visit police station for 3 hours on one day each. Observers learn about police work and can assist if they want. After initial round of community observers has visited, station staff recruit an other round, spreading awareness in community.

?? Goal 1: Community Awareness

?? Observers witness and spread information about true roles, challenges, and needs of police

?? Goal 2: Police Behavior

?? Presence of observer encourages polite, patient behavior by staff


4. Training:

Selected investigating officers receive week-long residential training in investigation at Rajasthan Police Academy, emphasizing scientific techniques. Selected staff of all rank sreceive 3-day training in communications, public relations, mediation, stress relief, and personal development designed by IL&FS (ETS)*.

?? Goal 1: Improve investigation through better officer training and knowledge

?? Goal 2: Improve police communication skills and relationship with the public

* Funded by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)


?? Individual officers/staff randomly selected for training

?? Percentage of staff to be trained randomly determined by police station

?? Some stations with 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of staff trained

?? Testing agents of change theory

?? Combined with other reforms


?? In each district, a Nodal Officer was appointed, usually of ASP rank.

?? Nodal Officer responsible for monitoring the project and providing regular status reports

?? During implementation, a district-level meeting was held:

?? SP, ASP’s, Circle Officers, and all SHO’s of participating police stations discussed project implementation and technical details.

?? SP/Nodal Officer was given freedom to make necessary innovations and modifications to ensure that project would be adapted to their district


MIT researchers coordinated data collection in two waves, baseline & endline. All surveys conducted by private survey company or by MIT employees.

?? Survey Modules:

?? Crime Survey:

?? Crime in India is measured by police case registration records

?? Problems of public non-reporting, police non-registration, political incentives

?? Most other countries use Household Surveys:

?? U.S.A.: National Crime Victimization Survey

?? Britain: British Crime Survey

?? Many others: International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS)

?? First major crime survey in India

?? Modified ICVS to include more detail, match I.P.C.


Total: 22,773 households interviewed in 2 rounds


?? Public Opinion Survey:One member of selected households interviewed further. Total: 7,985 interviews

?? Opinion of police

?? Perception of local crime levels and changes

?? Police Opinion Survey: 3,312 interviews with police staff

?? Morale

?? Time Use

?? Relationship with public

?? Case Review: 1,030 randomly selected case files checked and graded by retired police officers

?? Investigation Quality

?? Documentation Quality


?? Monitoring execution of reforms:

?? Random visits to police stations by surveyors:

?? Interview with SHO and randomly selected constables to check weekly off/duty rotation

?? Check Community Observer logbooks

?? Record any transfers

?? Decoy visits: Surveyors pose as complainants and attempt to register FIRs

?? Determine whether police refuse to register FIR— burking

?? Record politeness


?? Percentage of households victim to a crime:

?? Compared with 2007: Very small rise in overall crime

?? Households have 1% higher chance of being victims

?? Police station report average 15 more cases.


?? Household survey reflects public perception of crime better than official registration records

?? Survey does not cover victimless crimes—gambling, drug use, etc.

?? Survey cannot distinguish cognizable, non-cognizable crimes


?? Major reasons for non-reporting:

?? 28%: Not an important matter

?? 20%: Police couldn’t do anything

?? 17%: Police won’t do anything

?? 17% of victims report that police requested some money to register the FIR. Median demand was Rs. 2000.


Major reasons for dissatisfaction:

?? 25%: Police did not take action

?? 23%: Police did not seem interested

?? 17%: Criminal was not searched or arrested

?? 13%: Police was unable to return stolen property

?? 6% : Police asked for money


?? Most people never meet police:

Special categories:

?? 24% of urban men have interacted with police [17% rural]

?? 5% of women have met police

?? 82% of public report that no beat constable ever visits their village or neighborhood

Public Opinion, contd. 56% of citizens believe that the police don’t work hard:

?? Only 19% of respondents say police needs more resources

?? 24% say police need more staff Percentage of respondents saying police are lazier has increased 7.8% from 2007 to 2008

…but most think the police are courteous:

Percentage of citizens saying police are always or mostly courteous increased by 1.6% between 2007 and 2008.19.52%48.3%13.88%3.122%15.17%Always courteousMostly courteousMostly rudeAlways rudeDon’t KnowHow do the police behave with normal citizens?

And most think the police is helpful:

2% fewer respondents replied that police was always or mostly helpful in 2008 compared with 2007.


?? Sources of data:

?? Random surveyor checks

?? Police administrative data

?? Challenges:

?? Maintaining continuity: SP transfers

?? Gujjar Agitation

?? Terrorist attacks (Jaipur)

WEEKLY OFF: Days off increased, but never became weekly, then decreased: At the endline (March 2008), 28% of weekly off staff had a day off in the last 7 days, versus 26% in the control—statistically indistinguishable.


.Percentage of Staff transferred over approximately 10 months of the reform program: Significant reduction in staff transfers is possible, but full freeze in transfers remains a challenge.


?? Program was never daily, but according to official records remained roughly constant in implementation:

?? But—

?? Many repeat visitors—same individual visits multiple times

?? Serious concerns about accuracy of records—40% of visitor books appear to be filled out by police staff themselves


?? No Transfer:

?? Increased crime victim satisfaction by 30%

?? Decreased fear of police by 19%

?? Reduced staff complaints of unfairness

?? Training:

?? Training all staff increased victim satisfaction by 31%

?? Increased grade on scientific investigation by 1.3 points (average grade was 2)

?? Weekly Off:

?? Increased police staff satisfaction by 3%

?? Decoy Visits:

?? Increased the probability of FIR registration–reduced burking .


Effect of Interventions on Victim Satisfaction In stations where transfers were frozen, 30% more crime victims reported to be fully or mostly satisfied with the police than in the control police stations-

?? The higher proportion of police staff were trained, the greater the satisfaction of crime victims.

?? Two sources of difference:

?? Trained police took more actions (more arrests, more interviews with witnesses, more evidence collected)

?? In addition to tangible actions, satisfaction increased due to intangible effects of training on police attitudes


?? Controlling for other factors, each previous decoy visit increased the probability of FIR registration by 8%.


?? Weekly off /Duty rotation had a significant effect on reported satisfaction

?? Only 3%—perhaps due to limited project implementation

?? No change in percentage of staff complaining of not receiving weekly off

?? Biggest difference (5%) was between staff who knew they were participating in the reform project and those who did not know.

?? Possible reflects increased staff satisfaction due to more attention from senior officers, and knowledge that Rajasthan Police is actively working to improve policing and staff morale

?? Alternatively, may be due to the fact that staff in project stations felt they should respond more positively to please the interviewer


?? National Crime Survey

?? Evaluate crime reduction strategies

?? Improve incentives for better policing

?? Reduction in transfers

?? Demonstrated evidence on public perception

?? Relatively large effect despite limited implementation suggests potential for very large gains with universalization.

?? Weekly Off

?? Small effect

?? However, given very limited implementation, no firm conclusion possible

?? Training

?? Substantial effect on victim satisfaction

?? Currently being expanded to the rest of Rajasthan Recommendations

?? Decoy

?? Encourages registration

?? Possible to integrate into regular police practice?

?? Community Observer

?? No discernable effect on public perception

?? Questions remain about proper implementation

- Kamal Kant Jaswal

July - September, 2009