Policing Culture

By Dr. Wasim Kausar, Former IGP, NH&MP

Pakistan Motorway Police has earned the respect and confidence of the public within a short span of time. Common perception about police and policing in Pakistan is hopelessly dismal. Where corruption has become almost a disease in Pakistan affecting every aspect of our political, social and economic sectors, corruption in the police stands out like a sore thumb and its conspicuousness is due to its criticality and impact on good governance of the country and the negative general public view or impression it is bound to create. The country has been contending with the issue of corruption for the last several decades, but its efforts could best be labeled as “fire fighting” attempts at curbing public sector corruption. 

Not very long ago the traffic culture on the highway of Pakistan was characterized by a contemptuous disregard for traffic rules, an almost non-existent enforcement apparatus, and a very high ratio of accidents. Every year 700 people lost their precious lives and another 75000 received injuries in road accident. This meant a staggering 19 deaths and 205 injuries per day. The response of the Government of Pakistan to all this was swift and sweeping, and that was the establishment of National Highways & Motorway Police, which was specifically tasked to rectify the situation. This was easier said than done, but the gauntlet was valiantly taken up by the pioneers of the force. It was a gigantic task that needed considerable mental and material input. The same was, however, made available and the force became operational. The result has been a success, that could not only be referred to as exemplary but bewildering as reflected in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Report, 2002: – 

“With regard to petty and middling corruption, the consensus has been that there is hardly an arm of Government which does not suffer acutely from corruption, with the exception of the Motorway Police.” 

Fortunately, Pakistan’s Motorway Police has emerged as a model and an example of a corruption free police. It is commonly believed, supported by studies, that the Motorway Police is actually a graft free police force, created as a result of cultural transformation in policing. Seventy percent of the research on policing in the world encompasses police culture and its effect on police conduct. It has been established by independent research and analysis that prevalent police culture determines the prevalent police conduct with the public. Therefore, it would be naive to expect public friendly policing from a para-military policing outfit. This can only be possible if a strategy is formulated to transform the para-military culture by qualitative improvement in the training ecology and the work station ecology of the organization as reflected below: 

 

The success story of Pakistan Motorway Police revolves around the cultural transformation in police attitude by ensuring qualitative improvement in the training ecology and provision of compatible work station ecology. Needless to say that the service oriented and public friendly police model was the ultimate goal through this cultural transformation. 

The research studies into the personality profile of a police officer reveal that the common policeman suffers from a deep seated syndrome which we may name as the “stress prone personality disorder”, caused by one or more of the following factors which lead to his erratic and delinquent behavior, giving rise to ever increasing corruption, moral as well as intellectual, human rights excesses, misdemeanor and misbehavior with the general citizenry and a mindset that police cannot be subjected to any kind of accountability or scrutiny. 

 

TRAINING STRATEGY AND ECOLOGY

1 T.N.A. to assess training needs
1 SWOT Analysis : TNA technique
1 Qualified Instructors
1 Modern Techniques of Instruction
1 Syndicate/Participative System
1 Simulation Exercises
1 Case Studies
1 Driving Skills
1 Respectful Training Environment
1 Foreign Training

TRAINING

1 Batches of officers were sent to U.K. (Wales) and Germany for specialized training.
1 Staff from U.K. Police was called to impart training in Pakistan.
1 Training in the use of Modern – Electronic gadgets.
1 Training in first aid to help the injured in accidents.
1 Refresher Courses.

It would be counter productive to give high profile training to an officer without provision of compatible work station ecology. Therefore, a qualitative change in the work station environment was brought about as a result of the following measures based on international standards: – 

WORK STATION ECOLOGY

1 Manageable span of control
1 Neat and clean working environment
1 Camp living
1 Mess facility
1 Sports activities
1 Motivation and Morale
1 Chain of Command
1 Shift System and Monthly Rest
1 Compatible Work Station and Training Ecology
1 In-built System of Reward and Punishment
1 Minimum Weaponry displayed
1 Only Moving Violations checked. No documents seized.
1 Force responsible for traffic discipline, safety of commuters and initial action in crimes.

It is erroneous to think that repressive or oppressive tactics can control crime and restore order to the society. These are reactive methods of policing. Proactive policing is comprised of preventive measures and community partition to curb crime. Policeman is not only a law enforcer, but is also a peace officer who is expected to resolve conflicts between people. In this manner, the police officer becomes a friend of the people, who receives respect and participation from them. His task, thus, become, easier, creative, interesting and meaningful. Therefore, in order to attract quality police officer, the following incentives were given for their selection on merit in the Pakistan Motorway Police: – 

1 Attractive Salary Package.
1 One Step Promotion.
1 Free Bachelor Accommodation.
1  Shift System (8 Hrs Duty).
1 Proper Mess Arrangement.
1 Reward for Good Work.
1 Free Uniform.
1 Indoor/Outdoor Sport Facility.
1 Four Days Rest in a Month.
1 Free Medical Treatment.
1 Choice Postings (Near Place of Residents).

On 27th November 1997, this new force started working. After six months, the British trainers paid a surprise visit to see the working of their trainees and were astonished to see the working of their trainees and were astonished to see the efficiency and output. They remarked “this force is working even better than British Police” which is indeed a great comment from a British Police Officer. 

It would be difficult to pin down all the contributing factors for the first public friendly and service oriented police organization in Pakistan in this brief article. However, it may be mentioned that this miraculous transformation has been brought about by a cultural swing through qualitative improvement in the training ecology and work station ecology as explained earlier. It may be argued that maintaining law and order and control of crime is the joint responsibility of the society, its political, social, economic and cultural institutions. The police alone cannot handle these problems and the pooling in of the efforts of all is essential. Other state agencies must be involved. Crime and disorder are social theme, which should be projected in their true colors and the policeman’s role should be fitted in to the extent that is needed and relevant and no further. Then alone, the policeman shall be able to adequately and efficaciously acquit himself of a portion of his responsibilities, in the larger context of the criminal justice system. This is part of the dialectics of improvements, which must be allowed to operate freely. 

Therefore, it is clearly manifest that policing by consent whereby the policing process takes the public along in its quest for maintenance of public order is a key towards public friendly policing. The success of Pakistan Motorway Police lies in its service oriented functions and assistance to about 1200 commuters in Pakistan each day. From organizational point of view, the most important factor is that this is an officer based organization which works in a shift of eight hours with a manageable span of control as per international standards. The frequently asked question that Pakistan Motorway Police model can be replicated in the district police would require a detailed research paper. However, it can be argued that this not something impossible. It may be pointed out that order in a society depends upon a multiplicity of interacting forces which are complex. It depends upon the distribution of resources, images of relative deprivation, inequities and injustice, coercion, oppression, and greed. It depends upon the inculcation of values of comfort, convenience, dignity, safety of others etc. These values depend upon family, education, environment and neighbourhood pressures with expectations of good behavior. 

In this context, it is essential to understand the tensions in rural areas, the phenomenon of migration, and various aspects of urbanization giving rise to police responsibility in providing convenience of movement and general security making the society functional and efficient. Since human relationships are becoming more sensitive in the complex network of dependence, the policeman has to be sensitive to indications of disorder and lawlessness. Therefore, it can be argued that a cultural transformation in the district police is practically possible with a strong will of the Government as in case of Pakistan Motorway Police. However, it may be pointed out that apart from key policy decisions, this change would require a sustainable financial backup in order to ensure quality in policing as stated by Sir, Robert Peele in his address to the British Parliament on Police Reforms in 1907: – 

“The quality of policing is directly proportional to the financial aspects of policing. It will be difficult to get a good police without paying for it”