This component is designed to improve police community engagement and create an environment that facilitates prevention of crime and equitable access to justice.
The need to address crime is as old as civilization itself, and while we have always struggled with whether to punish or rehabilitate criminal activity, there has never been any question that the best alternative to ‘crime’ is prevention. The main objective of this study was to identify an alternative analysis of possible effective crime prevention strategies suitable for the socio-economic premises of Bangladesh. Moreover, the study also tried to find out the necessary action for implementation of crime prevention strategies. The comprehensive discussion based on secondary sources as well as documents like journal articles, authentic books. This study finds out the fields of crime prevention include a range of responses developed over many years, includes developmental, environmental, situational, social and community-based crime prevention, and interventions. Although theoretically there are very few crime prevention strategies in Bangladesh in practice, there are various strategies for crime prevention used here institutionally or un-institutionally which includes community-oriented policing and various security measures. Investing in crime prevention could reduce the drawbacks of the conventional criminal justice system. If the crime prevention strategies could ensure properly, crime and criminal victimization could prevent which will reduce the need for formal criminal justice system in Bangladesh.
This includes development of a National Crime Prevention Strategy with gender and human rights perspective. A further key objective is to minimize the opportunity for appropriate influence over the police in administering their role in the justice system. Strong emphasis is placed on crime prevention and community engagement, and a major focus on victim support, particularly for the poor and vulnerable groups.
Key outcomes of this component include:
- Enhanced crime prevention through police/community awareness and collaboration.
- Removal of barriers to the more effective reporting of crime.
- Creation of an environment that enhances the public image of police and provides reduced opportunity for inappropriate influence over police.
- The contribution of Bangladesh Police to victim support is enhanced particularly for the poor, women and girls and vulnerable groups.
- Enhanced capacity to be responsive to women, young people and vulnerable people.
- Refurbish and equip replicable model Thana in selected locations within Metropolitan Police and Ranges and staffed with both male and female police.
There is a definite lack of focus by the police and other stakeholders on the prevention of crime before it happens rather than reacting to it after it occurs. This can largely be attributed to a lack of awareness and understanding, but also to a lack of leadership on the part of various stakeholders, including the police. For example, hundreds of police officers are continuously engaged in dealing with violence between rival students at educational institutions such as Dhaka University when the underpinning tensions remain untreated.
The big issues relevant to crime in Bangladesh are so obvious to everyone; murder, robbery, dacoity, corruption and so on. However, little work is being done by Bangladesh Police to analyse and treat the underpinning causes of these crimes. Because of this lack of analysis, and because of the lack of police guidelines or policy on crime prevention, police are unable to provide advice to the public on what preventative actions they can take. In fact police themselves lack training and experience in crime prevention and community safety.
Whilst the police are admittedly not particularly active in mis regard, it is true to say that they are also generally perceived to be singularly responsible for both preventing and solving crime. In reality however, the community, civil society and other stakeholders including other government departments also have a significant moral obligation to play a more active role. There is however no single focal point for crime prevention and no holistic strategy for focussing collective efforts on preventing crime. The absence of such a strategy means that the best resources are not being brought together in a coordinated and cost effective manner to prevent crime. Accordingly the reduction of current crime levels and prevention of future crime is made much more difficult and, in a vicious circle, most police resources continue to be deployed in a reactive manner.
Police do not routinely provide crime prevention advice and in me face of limited awareness, the community, particularly the poor and uneducated are more vulnerable to crime and exploitation.
Accessibility and Affordabilitv of Justice
For most people in Bangladesh, police represent the entry point to the criminal justice system. Access to justice via this entry point however is not easy nor is it affordable except for certain classes of people.
In terms of access, the limited mobility of police particularly in rural areas, which is significantly constrained by a lack of vehicles and limited fuel budget, means that police services are primarily delivered through often inhospitable Thana. Very few police stations are constructed in a manner which is conducive to encouraging the public to enter. Police stations, particularly busy ones, are also almost constantly ‘surrounded’ by Touts who harass, or seek to intervene between victims and the police. These Touts are often well known by the police who are unable or unwilling to deal with them.
Some 80,000 or approximately 72% of police officers in Bangladesh are poorly trained, poorly equipped Constables who have limited authority, education and life skills. More than three quarters of Thana personnel are usually Constables.
They are however the public face of policing in Bangladesh. In fact, the considerably outdated PRB provides that ‘They [Constables] are not intended to perform duties requiring the exercise of much judgement and discretion’. (Regulation 208(a)) This in fact seems to reflect the way in which a large number of Constables are actually used.
Police stations are consistently under-staffed because of the low number of police who are actually deployed to work at Thana level, versus those who are deployed to reserve forces, public order, protocol and protection duties for bom individuals and organisations. A good number of police are also deployed to guard the police station.
Unreasonably long hours are worked by police at Thana level. Were they to work eight hour shifts and take proper days off, most police stations would have just a handful of police per shift. These officers however are being constantly drawn away from dealing directly with the community into protocol and security, further depleting actual numbers on a day to day basis. In terms of affordability, people are regularly required to pay bribes to police, Touts or Mastans to access so-called ‘justice*. In fact via bribes and other forced payments, many poor people are made poorer by accessing a basic service that should be provided equitably to all at no cost. Those payments sit on top of any detriment victims may have already suffered at the hands of criminals. In this sense, the justice system contributes to, rather than reduces poverty. Where honest and hard-working police are found, they are sometimes afraid to act against influential people including local politicians, pressure groups and their criminal associates, for fear of reprisals on their families, damage to their career prospects, or transfer to an adverse location. Senior officers appear unwilling or powerless to stop such intervention. In any event it is fair to say that the sophistication, skills and training of some police officers does not equip them to deal with powerful and influential people. Criminals with money are also able to bribe their way out of many situations.
Ultimately in Bangladesh this means that power, influence and money determine the accessibility of police services for many people, not constitutional rights, legal provisions and genuine need.