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UN police doctrine – Lessons for Pakistan?

The organizational and individual capacities of police must be supplemented with supervisory and facility capacities to ensure that the quality of service improves and the levels achieved are sustained - writes Kamran Adil, DIG of Punjab police.

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The coercive legal power of a state is exercised through the police; in the arena of international affairs, however, there has been a gradual transformation of this role from national to international.

Through special arrangements of the Security Council, the United Nations (UN) has been deploying police in more and more missions under Chapters VI, VII, and VIII of the Charter. With more missions employing police, the United Nations system started examining the role of police, and many a report started emerging on the working of police.

Brahimi Report of 2000 is considered as a point of departure in the sense that it started articulating a police doctrine for the UN. The institutional thinking continued and ultimately the Audit Report of 2008 underscored the need for a ‘comprehensive police doctrine to govern all aspects of the United Nations police operations’. Based on these observations, the UN started publishing material related to policing, which reflected international best practices and experiences. Based on these insights, the UN issued a framework policy on policing in 2014.

Read more: Nelson Mandela rules and the criminal justice system of Pakistan

The 2014 framework policy was then revised in 2016 and guidelines within this framework with respect to operations, administration, capacity building, and command were issued. These documents pack professional police material that may be used as practitioners’ literature offering cues for police reforms in domestic settings. The UN literature on policing covers many important areas. Three areas are being discussed here that may be of interest to justice sector leadership in Pakistan. These areas are:

1. Police Doctrine

Unlike the police doctrine of the colonial Police Act, 1861 (that predominantly remains applicable to most parts of Pakistan) that views the police as an ‘instrument’, the framework policy has defined policing as, “a function of governance responsible for the prevention, detection, and investigation of crime; protection of persons and property; and the maintenance of public order and safety”.

It is worth noting that the Police Order, 2002, in its articles 3 and 4 adheres to this police doctrine. The police doctrine of the UN requires policing to be representative, responsive, and accountable. It uses trite conceptions of these terms, which are reproduced here in verbatim:

  • Representative policing aims to ensure that the human rights of all people, without distinction of any kind such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, are protected, promoted and respected and that police personnel sufficiently reflect the community they serve. Fair and non-discriminatory recruitment and retention policies are expected to encourage, among other goals, adequate participation of women and minority groups.
  • Responsive policing ensures that police respond to existing and emerging public needs and expectations, especially in preventing and detecting crime and maintaining public order and safety. Policing objectives are informed by the public safety concerns of the communities they serve and are attained lawfully, efficiently, and effectively and in accordance with international norms and standards in crime prevention, criminal justice, and human rights law.
  • Accountable policing means that police are accountable to the law, as are all individuals and institutions in States; that police are answerable to the public through the democratic and political institutions of the state, as well as through civilian democratic oversight bodies and mechanisms to improve community-police relations; that police are accountable for the way they use the resources allocated to them and that effective mechanisms are established for accountability over police conduct, including any allegations or established human rights violations committed by the police.

Read more: Policing organized crimes in Pakistan

2. Performance Evaluation

Measuring the performance of police has been a challenge all over the world. In Pakistan, most of the time, statistical evaluation is carried out. Recently, the call logs for police help and response have been used by police officers, but it has their inaccuracies and is essentially quantitative in nature.

The UN, in its guidelines on capacity building of police, offers a framework for police performance measurement. This framework measures three areas with specific indicators. These three areas and specific indicators may be considered for reimagining the performance evaluation of police officers in Pakistan. These are summarized as:

  • Measuring organizational processes through standard setting and benchmarking of its policies, training, early warning system, transparency, and community interface;
  • Measuring police officers’ conduct through the handling of incidents, response to citizens’ complaints, and morale;
  • Measuring outcomes by looking at crime rates, community opinion, victim surveys, citizen-police cooperation, response times, and clearance/disposal rates.

Read more: Op-ed: Observing United Nations’ International days is useless

3. Capacity Building

Another important area where the UN has elaborated professional knowledge is the capacity building of police. It classifies the capacity building of police into different categories; these include performance capacity, personal capacity, workload capacity, supervisory capacity, facility capacity, support service capacity, systems capacity, structural capacity, and role capacity.

From Pakistan’s perspective, the training of officers is often treated as the principal method of capacity building in a police organization. This needs to change. As elaborated by the UN system, all types of capacities must be addressed. The organizational and individual capacities of police must be supplemented with supervisory and facility capacities to ensure that the quality of service improves and the levels achieved are sustained.

Learning from the UN

There is no denying the fact that the UN and a state police organization have a different set of circumstances, therefore, reading too much into UN doctrine and philosophy may not help.

Nevertheless, the knowledge produced by the UN system on measuring police performance and a capacity building may have some useful clues for those practitioners who align police working towards the rule of law paradigm.

Read more: Police, State and Society: Challenges And Opportunities in Pakistan

From the viewpoint of crime control strategies, the indigenous approach of aggressive policing may have to be applied as little or no investment and attention are being made to civil and restorative justice enabling vigilantism and resorting to exceptional measures to fight crime in the society.

Kamran Adil is currently serving as Deputy Inspector General of Punjab police. He studied law at Oxford University and writes and lectures on international law. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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