September 25, 2023

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Business The Solution

Improving the Quality of Policing in India Through Shared Service Centers

The debate rages on the weak quality of policing in India accentuated by the recent incident of sexual assault and subsequent death of a paramedical student in Delhi. On national television the busy news anchors have engaged politicians, social and civil activists, lawyers, students, women associations and ex-policemen to articulate deterrence for these crimes and strengthen law and order.
Yet what ails policing in India? Is there a need to examine the structure of police? Has anyone debated beyond increasing the count of cops and opening new police stations? Do we prioritize standard operating procedures to enable better monitoring of crime? Is there a single consolidated and shared database on criminals available to all police stations in large and medium urban centers?
To begin with we need to evaluate the core tasks of police in India as detailed below for easy understanding:

• prevention of crime
• investigation and detection
• collation of intelligence
• security for VIP’s
• patrolling in border areas and railways
• monitor and prevent smuggling and drug trafficking

Apart from the above mentioned the police acts as a support to intelligence agencies like Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) etc. to uphold law and order.

Now we need to take a quick glance at the non-core tasks as listed below:

• investigate economic offences
• monitor and cure incidents of domestic violence
• counsel and resolve social conflicts
• monitor traffic solutions
• support disaster recovery and management systems
• oversee reporting systems
• execute personnel management (leaves, travel allowance etc.)
• devise and implement duty allocation system
• protect environmental laws
• manage the facilities
• support the information technology systems
• update the Bulletin Boards
• documentation of reports and inquiry
• collection of fines and issue of challans/receipts

The share of non-core tasks has significantly increased in the last decade for the police in India. The lack of standard operating procedures aided by manual and repetitive tasks has led to a blot on the efficiency and effectiveness of policing. As a result the cops are highly stressed and display low levels of engagement going by reports in the media.

To begin with the shared service centers could be leveraged in the following work areas:

• Facilities Management
• Data Services
• Information Technology (IT)
• Administration
• Traffic Systems
• Disaster Recovery and Management

The first step is to engage in meaningful discussions with government bodies, legal associations, constitutional experts and heads of police. The second step would be to define a viable operating model centers (voice, chat, e-mail, SMS) including return on investments. The third step will lead to assembling a team of professionals to establish the shared service center. A proof of concept centered upon the selected work area within an identified city and locality constitutes the fourth step. The fifth step is to deploy the appropriate change management within the police force and the citizens. The last step would entail the evaluation of success measures as defined in the proof of concept.

There are both potential hard and soft potential benefits to be accrued post the shared service centers pick up steam and likely evidence is described below:

• standardize the processes to minimize variations and reduce complexity
• reduce the operating costs
• enhance the existing quality of services
• enable alternate career opportunities for police work force
• preserve bandwidth to focus on core tasks
• leverage economies of scale with a shared online consolidated database, smart IT platforms and support easy retrieval
• create alternative channels for citizens to record complaints
• establish cycle time to log, track and close complaints
• enable better intelligence by data mining on criminals
• strengthen the recruitment process
• increase the engagement levels of the workforce

To support the above-mentioned there are some experiments which are emerging within India and at the global level. The Central Zone Police ( ) in Ramgopalpet police station in Hyderabad has outsourced some non-core Police functions to tide over the pressure of law and order maintenance, VIP security, crime detection and paucity of manpower. Post a detailed review and approval by the Commissioner of Police (Sri M.V.Krishna Rao), Hyderabad, the same is now being expanded to other police stations of the city. The first wave of benefits includes reduction in operating costs and involvement of civilians in policing.

The aim of the Shared Business Service Centre (SBSC) in Surrey ( ) is to deliver a customer focused first line support service for Human Resources, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Finance in response to enquiries from customers across the whole Force. The SBSC also promotes best practice and use of technology and information sources to improve Force wide processes.

Another example is the decision of the Cleveland Police to set-up a Shared Service Center aided by Steria comprising of Finance, Human Resources, Procurement, Fleet, Facilities and various administrative functions. The Northamptonshire and Cheshire Police are linking their back office systems though they are located at a distance from each other. This partnership, known as the Multi-Force Shared Service, has already set up finance and purchasing shared services and upgrade technology to support finance and purchasing, as well as estates and logistics transactions.
The shared service center may further strengthen the key objectives of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Some of the key goals include:

• provide enhanced tools for investigation, Crime Prevention, Law & Order, Traffic Management, and Emergency Response
• utilize IT for efficiency and effectiveness of core policing operations
• provide information for easier and faster analysis
• increase Operational Efficiency by reducing the monotonous and repetitive tasks
• automating back-office functions, and thereby release police staff for greater focus on core police functions
• create platforms at State and Central levels for sharing crime and criminal information/databases
• resulting in better tracking of criminals, suspects, accused and repeat offenders

Now pause and reflect that had the carpenter (who was first robbed by the culprits before the sexual assault) alerted a shared service center through a helpline the message could have been instantly flashed in all police stations and maybe on mobile phones. That may have prevented the gory tragedy. Hence it is time to walk down the path of shared service centers and enable a safe environment for our citizens.