Shortage of police personnel alarming

There is a serious shortage of police personnel in the country. According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), India’s police to population ratio is 180 personnel per 1,00,000 population, way below the UN recommended ratio of 222 personnel per 1,00,000 population. While this ratio has improved over the years, it is still less for effective policing of the country. The government has taken some steps to improve the situation. The number of sanctioned posts has increased over the past decade not only in absolute terms but in relation to population too (population grew at 14% over the past decade compared to the 44.4% increase in the sanctioned strength of
civil and armed police). However, the large number of vacancies has undermined this effort. As on January 1, 2016, 24% of posts in the police forces nationwide were lying vacant, with Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka having the largest number of vacancies. The number of police personnel available for the security of the common man and woman is dismal. One cop is available for the security of 729 people.

Compare this to VIP security, where a VIP is assigned three cops on an average. The ‘Data on Police Organisation’ shows that the Indian police personnel are clearly overburdened. In West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, there is one policeman for every 918 and 875 people, respectively. How can he be expected to discharge his responsibilities effectively when he is so overstrained? There aren’t enough personnel to shoulder the burden of policing our massive population, maintaining law and order and combating complex challenges like terrorism, communal violence etc.

It has taken a heavy toll on the health of personnel. Studies indicate that Indian policemen are severely stressed. Given the shortage in the ranks, cops have to work long hours without a break – 90% of our police personnel work over eight hours a day – and rarely get to take even their weekly off, let alone a vacation that they are entitled to. They do not have the time for personal and family matters, leaving them stressed and frustrated. Not surprisingly, their work suffers. Many policepersons give vent to this frustration by indulging in torture and violence.

There is an urgent need to implement police reforms. Pay, perks and working conditions, especially at the lower ranks must be improved. This is necessary not only to attract more people to fill vacancies but also to make India’s police a more humane and citizen-friendly force. India must also end its obsession with VIP security to focus on security of the masses.

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