The Police Reform Programme (PRP) is a comprehensive capacity building initiative to improve human security in Bangladesh. PRP works to support the transition of the Bangladesh Police from a colonial style police force to a more effective and service-oriented police organisation. The programme develops the capacity of police officers through training, strengthens service delivery, advocates gender equality and sensitivity and supports better interaction with the community through model police stations and community policing forums.  The programme aims to build a safer, more secure and stable Bangladesh, where human rights of citizens, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized, are promoted and protected.

What have we accomplished so far?

• The number of female police officers has doubled from 1.8 percent to 5.24 percent between 2009 and 2014.

• The country’s first Victim Support Centre at the Tejgaon Police Station, Dhaka, was established with PRP support in 2009. The victim support centre model of partnering with NGOs has provided an improved response to victims of gender-based violence. Recognizing the demand for victim support services, Bangladesh Police with UNDP support has extended the network of Centers to eight with one in each of the major cities and in the Chittagong Hills Tracts. Since 2009, these centers provided assistance to approx. 3500 women and children.

• PRP-supported the establishment of 52,000 Community Policing Forums (CPFs) countrywide building bridges between the police and community.

• Access to justice has been improved for all citizens, particularly disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, through the construction and refurbishment and ongoing PRP-support to 29 women and child-friendly police stations.

• 7.6 million people are receiving improved services at 29 Model Thanas including six newly constructed ones handed over to the Bangladesh Police in 2012.

• The draft Police Ordinance 2007 has been revised and the first and second Bangladesh Police Strategic Plans published.

• PRP has successfully advocated for the establishment of a new information and communication technology management structure in the police headquarters and the police telecom and information management.

Police Reform Programme (PRP) aims at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Bangladesh Police by supporting key areas of access to justice; including crime prevention, investigations, police operations and prosecutions; human resource management and training; and future directions, strategic capacity and oversight.

The programme complements other initiatives for reform in the broader justice sector and is designed to assist Bangladesh Police to improve performance and professionalism consistent with broader government objectives. Support to a functioning, accessible and transparent criminal justice system, institutions and services (including legal aid) means that poor people and other disadvantaged groups have protection, representation and recourse to hold the resource-rich accountable for commitments services included in the MDGs and their targets.

Key Components of PRP;

There are six key components to support the programme goal and longer-term outcome.The components provide a conceptual and strategic framework for the duration of the programme:

  • Component 1: Crime Prevention
  • Component 2: Investigations, Operations and Prosecutions
  • Component 3: Human Resource Management and Training
  • Component 4: Strategy and Oversight
  • Component 5: Programme Management
  • Component 6: Communication
  • Component 7: Trafficking in Human Beings.

4.2 Why is there a need for police reform?

The challenges of crime and anti-social behaviour are enormous. Levels of crime, although falling, remain too high and detection rates too low. The police want to reduce public fear of crime and do more to build public confidence. This is being done through the police reform programme and reforms to the criminal justice system.25

Further measures now seek to push the programme forward. Underpinning this is the civil renewal agenda – the belief in strong, empowered and active communities. The government wants to create a police service which is more responsive to local needs and to clarify confusing police accountability arrangements, as well as creating a service better able to deal with higher level crime which goes across force boundaries.

What’s on the agenda?

Police Reform must help meet the following challenges:

  • Providing a citizen-focused service to the public, especially victims and witnesses, which responds to the needs of individuals and communities and inspires confidence in the police.
  • Tackling anti-social behaviour and disorder.
  • Continuing to reduce burglary, vehicle crime, robbery and drug related crime.
  • Combating serious and organized crime, both across and within force boundaries.
  • Narrowing the justice gap by increasing the number of offences brought to justice.
  • Better leadership and training.
  • Optimising police use of science and technology.
  • A better deal on occupational health.
  • Modernising police regulations and all terms and conditions.
  • Ensuring all staff have high quality terms and conditions.
  • Performance management.

Problems to be Addressed

The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (GoB) recognizes the importance of an efficient and effective police force as an integral part of the broader justice sector and as a key contributor to a safer and more secure environment based on respect for human rights, equitable access to justice and observance of the rule of law. In partnership with UNDP and other development agencies, the GoB has supported reform and renewal of the Bangladesh Police to improve the administration of justice and the maintenance of law and order including international norms for human rights.

There are many problems to be addressed in the reform and renewal of the Bangladesh Police through the PRP. These include:

  • Shortfalls in supervisory and managerial competence;
  • Police are under-resourced and under-trained;
  • Lack of specialized technical capacity to deal with emerging crimes;
  • Lack of confidence in the police expressed by many members of the community, civil society and business;
  • Lack of sensitivity by the police on the plight of victims of crime, particularly women, young people, minorities, the landless poor, street people and other vulnerable groups;
  • The management and effective operations of the police is adversely impacted by external influences with great regularity;
  • The low number of women police and their low representation in decision making positions;
  • The police having a propensity to focus on protocol, ceremonial and static security tasks at the expense of core duties;
  • The machinery of policing has not evolved over time and does not meet the needs of present-day Bangladesh;
  • Inefficiency use of police resources and lack of competency by officers performing many critical functions without adequate (or any) training;
  • The existence of opportunistic and institutional corruption in a range of shapes and forms;
  • Generally low motivation and morale linked to low pay, poor working conditions and limited promotion prospects, especially at the lower levels;
  • Inadequate overall strategic planning, including human resource and career development, transparency and accountability of function and sustainability of operations; and
  • Widespread abuse of authority, whilst accountability and transparency are lacking.