Beat policing hits all time low, fails to generate enough intelligence

August 3rd, 2008 - 10:22 am ICT by IANS  

By Sahil Makkar
New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) Can you recall the last time your beat constable had visited your house? Do you know him? Do you keep his mobile number for an emergency? A beat officer is a head constable supported by two constables. They are supposed to collect all the information related to residents and their servants in a particular neighbourhood and keep a strict vigil.

Their job is also to carry records of criminals, suspects and accused pertaining to that particular area. In short beat police officers are specially assigned to work in close contact with their local community. In police parlance, these officers are described as the eyes and ears of any state police.

But over the years beat policing has touched its all time low and the nation is bearing burnt with series of bomb blasts in each part of the country, say police officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Not only residents, even the men on the beat themselves and senior police officers admit that the concept of beat policing is not bearing fruitful results any more, resulting in poor intelligence gathering.

“We are living in Dwarka for the past five years and never interacted with any police officer. No one ever came to our house to interact over any issue. We don’t even know who our beat officer is,” Anil Sehgal, senior manger with a leading advertising firm, told IANS.

Moti Nagar resident and software professional Varun Sadana said: “Earlier one policemen used to often visit our society and would listen to our problems. But with the passage of time these visits have became erratic.”

Mohini Sharma, a housewife, said over the years the things have changed drastically. “Earlier the policemen were very respectful. Now the young officers are not only rude and but very unhelpful. It seems that they have only restricted their duties to extracting money from the innocent people.”

“People try to avoid them, if some cop is passing by,” Sharma said.

The beat officers too admit that in the last ten years things have changed rapidly.

“Earlier we used to take a complete round of our respective area in two-three hours. But these days it takes at least 15 days to do a single round. Seven-eight years ago we could tell on our fingertips the number of people living in a colony and who owns which car or bike,” said a head constable, posted in Sarojini Nagar police station.

“These days we are overburdened with work, which ranges from servant verification to maintaining law and order in the area of a police station. Delivering court summons and carrying out investigations takes a lot of time,” the head constable told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Another head constable posted in a Dwarka police station said: “We are not only doing the job of the beat policing, there so many things we have to do. We are also roped in when there is any violence and tension in other police station areas.

“Due to lack of time and rise in day to day crime incidents, focus has shifted from intelligence gathering to maintaining law and order and solving crimes. We hardly get time to develop sources in a particular area,” he admitted.

The failure in intelligence gathering and incompetence of police officials has proved lethal in the recent past with the series of terror strikes in Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad killing more than 120 and injuries to over 300 people.

Senior police officials admitted to IANS that they are getting less information at the ground level about criminals and suspicious people.

“Till a few years ago, people used to often say police have a strong information network and can arrest any suspect whenever they want. But I am sorry to say that the same doesn’t exist anymore and it is depleting each passing day,” a top Delhi Police official said.

“Rise in population is the prime factor to blamed for it. In 1991 the population of Delhi was merely eight million. Today it has crossed 17 million. But at the same time the number of policemen has not gone up accordingly.”

“The factor to be blamed is more money transactions. Rise in wealth has also led to more crimes in the city and most of our officers’ time goes in investigating these cases,” the senior official added.

Another senior officer said: “The current strength of 60,000 is not sufficient. Keeping future challenges in mind, we had requested the home ministry to sanction additional strength of 10,000 to 15,000 policemen. But the file is just gathering dust.”

According to the government appointed S.D. Shrivastva committee, there should be a police station for a population of 75,000 people. But in Delhi on an average there is one police station for more than 115,000 people.

(Sahil Makkar can be contacted at

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