Approaches to Citizen-Centric Policing


Bishnu Pathak, PhD – TRANSCEND Media Service

  1. Setting

Citizen-Centric Policing (CCP) or Neighborhood Policing (NP) is radar of Community Policing (CP).  The CP is a policing practice that aims to increase interaction between citizens and police officials for public safety and quality of life in the community (Wycoff: 1994).  It is more than tactics, strategy, and technique (Trojanowicz: 1998).  It has become the national mantra to spring up in urban, suburban, and even rural police departments (Greene: 2000) or police stations.  The CP promises to change relationships progressively to improve the living conditions of neighborhoods (Eck and Rosenbaum: 1994).  It is a panacea for crime (Friedmann: 1996) or reducing crime in the community.

The US agenda of crime control includes a visible place for CP and its derivatives (Skolnick and Bayley: 1988) overcoming resistance of subculture of the police (Skolnick: 1966) on endangerment, authority, and efficiency.  It is a shifting of departments toward community and problem-oriented policing from traditional practices (Goldstein: 1990).  The CP fully complies with human rights standards, integrating law enforcement philosophy, and transforming self-centered to service-centered (community-centered) behavioral practices of the police.

This article is prepared based on the Global Conference on Citizen-Centric Police Station Reforms 2011, A Global Report on Police Station Visitors Week 2010, Gender Responsive Practices in Police Station 2011, Reports of Results of the PSVW 2010, and Report of Results in Nepal 2010, and the direct involvement of the Peace and Conflict Studies Center (PCS Center), Kathmandu, Nepal as a partner organization of the Altus-IDC.  A few pertinent literatures were reviewed to accomplish the task.  The researcher’s personal observations and experiences, being gained through teaching, researching, exchange and sharing, networking, and so forth were also used to analyze focusing on public safety, strengthening respect, promoting honor, and enhancing the welfare of international human rights standards to achieve equitable justice to all.  The principal aim of this study is to analyze the findings obtained through the PSVW 2010 and disseminate them globally.

2.  Citizen-Centric Policing Approaches

Between October 18th and 24th 2010, Altus organized Police Station Visitors Week (PSVW) in 21 countries, namely Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda in Africa; Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan in Asia; Latvia and Russia in Europe; Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru in Latin America; and USA in North America. It tried to cover all the continents stretching from Bangladesh to Brazil, Maldives to Mexico, and Russia to Benin. The visitors assigned kit ratings from 1 to 5 for each of the 20 questions, with totally inadequate (1-20 points), inadequate (21-40 points), adequate (41-60 points), more than adequate (61-80 points), and excellent (81-100 points). For the PSVW, the visitors observed and assessed through five dimensional objectives namely, Community Orientation, Physical Conditions, Equal Treatment of the Public, Transparency and Accountability, and Detention Conditions. It aimed to assess the quality of services delivered in police stations identifying some of the best practices being used by police on the course to strengthening their accountability to the local citizens and ensuring national, regional and international human rights standards.

The Institute of Development and Communication (IDC) hosted Altus’ annual Global and Regional Conference on Citizen-Centric Police Station Reforms in Amritsar, Punjab, India between April 4th and 6th 2011, on the active support of Punjab Police. The conference was coordinated by Dr. Michael Jacobson, Dr. Pramod Kumar, and Dr. Rainuka Dagar to disseminate the results of PSVW 2010. The top scoring stations of each continent were honored with an award amid a gala ceremony by the Governor of Punjab state. The PSVW has been founded by six civil society organizations; such as IDC, Chandigarh, India; Vera Institute of Justice, New York, USA; Center for Studies for Public Safety (CESC), Santiago, Chile; Center for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship (CESeC), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; CLEEN Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria; and INDEM Foundation, Moscow, Russia. The Altus global alliance has been initiating work in PSVW countries since 2005 to uplift public security and justice.

2.1 Community Serving Approach

The Community Serving Approach (CSA) is a philosophy of community-policing partnership between the law enforcement agency and individual(s) and/or institution(s) in the community. In the PSVW, the visitors assessed the resources available for the community at each police station and later rated each of them paying special attention on ease of location and visible access, room/desk/bench facilities to the individual(s) arriving at said police station to report alleged crime or FIR, information available on reporting a crime and enough staff allocation to provide the necessary services.

The CSA leads in helping communities to use police services, explaining citizen-rights and procedures to report crime in a people friendly environment. Information on gender violence and access to counseling and network services reflect an efficient and caring service delivery.

In 2010, the average score globally was 70.06 “more than adequate” where the national average fell within 10 points, higher or lower, of the global average. National averages range from a low of 51.67 “adequate” in Kenya to a high of 83.13 “more than adequate” in Russia (Police Station Visitors Week:2011a). In most of the developing countries in the world, the issue of gender has not been a central agenda in community policing and global policing standards. On the course to building a closer relationship between police and community, Los Angeles stations held informal interactions with their communities. In Brazil, a police station organized a joint Christmas party of neighboring children. To build trust with the community in Chile, a police station rented an auditorium to organize meetings with community groups. In Punjab in India, community-policing organizes across the state with community, civil society representatives, and women (Dagar: 2011:42-44).

In the case of Nepal, a few police stations have started to hold informal meetings with the village communities, but these are not effective due to the lack of continuation and financial support available. The highest score was assessed at 71.00 while the lowest was 58.33 with an average score of 64.52 in police station participation (Police Station Visitors Week:2011d:10).  Individual officers are responsible for conducting such initiatives rather than institutional efforts.  In many cases in the remote areas, students and public do not think that police are for their safety and justice, but in turn, they fear visiting police stations even in an emergency due to worries of a slow and tiring investigation. Moreover, weak sections of communities often feel victimized owning to the mutually beneficial relations of the local elite with the police.  The elite often influences police stations to favor their desire by power, politics, property and privilege.

Visitors identified the best police sensitivity in the community. In developing countries, students have been a part of the mobilized community to visit police stations. Police officers go beyond the call of duty to supply clothing, toiletries, diapers, and teddy bears to meet the victims needs (Dagar:2011:46-53).

In general, community mainstreaming is yet to be institutionalized in most of the police stations in Nepal. As most of the visitors conducted their yearly appraisal in an urban center, mainly in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, the real picture on gender issue in community-policing and global standards of policing has yet to be discussed being put as a central agenda. Civil society organization(s) and individual(s) are very much interested in participating in addressing the issue of community policing, but currently in vain due to the lack of financial and institutional support.

The CSA draws the attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 29(1) which states, “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” The community Code of Conduct also encourages collaboration and cooperation between the community and police. Similarly article 2 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules) has ensured the rules to promote greater community involvement to enhance criminal justice and strengthen the sense of social responsibility. Non-compliance of the above mentioned community rights standards are the sole cause of violation and abuse of Community Serving Approach.

2.2 Community Participation Approach

Participation is the right to the highest attainable accessible standard of an institutional mechanism, capacity building, policy formation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation (Potts:2008:14). Democratic participation on governance assumes the need for both public policy and public implementation (Pressman and Wildavsky: 1973) where participation of civil society acts as the principal actors. The participation of civil society including individual(s) in the public arena is one of the major actors for the change in countries. For this, state is to be clear on the human rights regime (Andreopoulos: 2006) and accept the fact that civil society shall play an important role in the formation of community policy and its implementation. This Community Participation Approach (CPA) is a set of concepts where civil society and/or individual(s) shall bridge the gap between the state actors and the communities. The participation shall put more focus on a bottom-up approach to power structure.

The CPA is basically taken from the number of visitors who participated in visiting the police stations, organized by Altus.  In October 2010, 6,293 people participated in PSVW in 276 cities spreading across 21 countries. India alone covered 36 percent with 99 different cities. Three countries namely Benin, Cameroon, and Kenya participated for the first time. In Asia 3,319 people visited police stations. India mobilized the high number of visitors (3,039) followed by Brazil with 684, Russia 454, and Nigeria with 436 visitors. There had been notable numbers of participants from Latin American countries such as Peru (389), Chile (229), and Bolivia (141) visitors.  Brazil also visited in 13 cities reaching 172 police stations.

About 147 visitors visited 10 police stations in Kathmandu Nepal. They constituted members of civil society, university teachers, and students; journalists, social workers, and Dalits. The age profile of visitors aged 26 to 39 was (61%).  Youth (age 19 to 25) constituted 33 per cent and were the next highest numbering visitors. No retired people were part of the visits.

Altus encourages involving traditionally marginalized and indigenous groups especially women, youth, and individuals of less education along with ethnic, racial, or religious minorities.  More than one-third (42%) women visited police stations and 21 percent were 25 years old or younger; 49 percent were less educated than women in 2010. The proportion of women visitors globally increased from 38 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2010.  In Latvia more than 50 percent women visitors participated in 2009.  Only 29 percent women participated in Liberia in both 2010 and in 2009.  Pakistan, Mexico, Russia, and Nepal achieved at least 50 percent representation of women for the first time.

In Africa; Ghana and Uganda exceeded the 50 percent target in 2010 and both Nigeria and Sierra Leone made significant gains. The proportion of women visitors increased from 34 percent in 2009 to 45 in 2010. In India, the proportion of women visitors more than doubled, from 12 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2010.  Nearly three-quarters, 73 percent (4,594) of visitors stated that they had not reported a crime to the police within the last 12 months and didn’t know anyone who had reported one.

The global number of visitors has increased more than 200 percent and the number of visiting stations has expanded 134 percent since 2006. The number of visitors in Africa grew 239 percent since 2006 and 31 percent over the past year. Ghana doubled the number of stations and visitors in 2010, compared with 2009. In the case of India, with participants in 2010 (3,039 individuals) this number was roughly doubled in 2009.

The number of visitors in Asia increased 76 percent. In Latin America, the number of visitors decreased by 13 percent and the number of stations grew by only 2 percent, similar to the growth in Europe. However, the youth organizations and universities played a significant role in recruiting visitors. The United States are still low where only 125 visitors with 27 police stations visited in 2010 that reflects 29 percent more visitors than in 2009 (Police Station Visitors Week: 2011a).

The participation is the highest attainable of human rights instruments including the right to development. The involvement of active participation in compliance with national and international human rights standards, fundamental constitutional rights, and humanitarian law determine one’s own destiny and is the essence of human dignity. The Article 7 of the ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal peoples are ensured participation in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of plans and programs for national and regional development. Article 6 advocates for the security of the indigenous peoples’ participation.

Principle 22 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992 prioritizes the Indigenous people and their participation in the achievement of sustainable development securing identity and culture. The Universal Declaration of the Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Rights of the Children, Women, and Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities have also advocated for their participation for their sustainable development. The Right to Development 1986 says that everyone is entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. The article 2 of the Declaration on the Right to Development says, “States should encourage popular participation in all spheres as an important factor in development and in the full realization of all human rights.”

2.3 Physical Structured Approach

The Physical Structured Approach (PSA) tends to explain physical conditions (infrastructures) of the police stations studied during the one-week PS observation. Visitors observed and later rated each police station in 21 countries assessing physical conditions of the stations, paying special attention to proper order and cleanliness, general situation of the building, working conditions such as enough office space, furniture, facilities, computers, etc. and surrounding conditions for victims or witnesses to identify detainees without being seen for example; rooms with one-way mirrors, rooms with small holes that only allow for one-way viewing, and video links.

The average score around the globe is 64.98which falls in the ‘adequate’ category, however; national averages vary widely as low as 39.67 “inadequate” in Benin and as high as 85.63 “excellent” in Latvia. The national average in 11 countries is more than 10 points below the global average that includes all 8 African countries, Bangladesh, Bolivia, and Peru. Nepal is four-points below (60.51) than the global average ranging top score 66.67 and the low rated 55.67. At least one station in Nigeria received a score of 100 for its physical conditions; Ghana scored 88.33, and Sierra Leone 75.0.

In many stations in Bolivia and Peru, police personnel are crowded together in to small offices.  A victim or individual comes to report a crime; he/she must tell the story in front of them all which makes it difficult for women to report on domestic violence or sexual abuse.

The PSVW organized 214 police stations in eight states; Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh across India (Police Station Visitors Week: 2011c:6). The seventh-largest by geography, second most-populous with 1.2 billion people and with the world’s tenth largest economy, India is the fastest developing country in the world. Its police stations have gradually improving infrastructures, enough space for offices, guest reception rooms, a waiting room, and other facilities. Moreover, the PSVW was mostly conducted in cities leaving behind police stations in remote areas.

Some visitors made criticisms during the course of observation and assessment. The complaint made of outdated and moribund facilities, and unsafe records keeping system such as in Kenya.  In Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Uganda, office buildings were in bad shape keeping detainees at risk. In one newly established community-policing center in Bhaktapur, Nepal, eight police personnel were working from a single room which had just enough space to stand rather to initiate their duties and responsibilities effectively. Many stations do not have a single vehicle to patrol on the streets and to respond to emergency calls in Nepal and the situation is similar in Ghana. In Ghana, police officers use their own money to transport suspects and others concerned to the office. A few stations in Benin ran out of bullets which encouraged criminals to operate robberies in a safe-haven.  In some police stations in Nepal and Nigeria, officers often ask to near and dear people for fuel for their patrolling vehicles because of the lack of government budgets.

Developed countries have better physical condition of their police stations. However, a slowly developing country like Nepal neither has good physical conditions nor facilities such as enough space, furniture, a computer, a locking filing cabinet, and so forth. Nepal suffers from dilapidated structures, old-and-outdated furniture, scarcity of vehicles, arms and ammunition, insanitary toilets, parking, and a separate investigation room. In the PSVW 2009 and 2010, Nepal chose the same 10 police stations in the capital of Nepal. There is no doubt that a capital station would have better physical conditions and other facilities compared to remote hill, mountain, and tarai-based police stations. The police stations located in remote areas in Nepal have such poor physical conditions as not enough office space, no investigation room or sentry-hut, and no basic facilities such as toilets, tap water, etc.

Absence of physical conditions and facilities are meant violation of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules), the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime, and Abuse of Power (the Victims Declaration), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each state is responsible for ensuring basic needs, fundamental freedom, respect international human rights standards, and to guarantee equal constitutional rights to all.

2.4 Anti-discrimination Approach

Anti-discrimination is an integral part of the European Union’s approach to immigration, inclusion, integration, and employment. It guides a process of change based on mutual respect between ethnic minorities, migrants, and host societies (Commission of the European Communities: 2004:2). The non-discrimination approach helps to understand laws equating rights or entitlements (Satz: 2006). The concept of equality or non-discrimination is a human rights based approach of ‘treatment as an equal, not equal treatment’ (Equal Rights Truth: November 2007). Non-discrimination is the cognitive sensory capacity that does not differentiate the distinction between concepts, objects, subjects, and patterns on the course of human life, liberty, security, and dignity.

The Non-Discrimination Approach (NDA) is basically focused on equal treatment of the people without bias based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, minority status, age or sexual orientation, profession, culture, and so forth. In this approach, the police personnel are responsible for treating all members of the community equally without prejudice. To ensure equal treatment for all, the police forces are to be empowered by being provided with the required facilities and services.

In observing and assessing the area of equal treatment, visitors are asked to pay special attention to whether the police station was fully accessible to persons with disabilities, whether there were private rooms for interviewing crime victims and witnesses, and whether there were separate bath-room, toilet, and changing room, whether there were appropriate facilities for staff to handle cases involving women, whether there were services in the local languages, and whether wider rooms were managed to differently able people.

On average, women appeared more critical of police stations than men. That trend was first observed in 2009 and was seen significantly again in 2010. The women visitors (2,644) globally assigned lower scores compared to the 3,649 men deployed for the police stations assessment.  In Brazil, Latvia, and Mexico, physical conditions scored higher than community orientation. The largest differences had been found in the areas of transparency and accountability and detention conditions of the stations, where women’s average scores were roughly down by 5.5 points than the men’s average scores. Even though, the average scores were closest in the area of community orientation with little more than 2 points. In general in all five continents, the average scores among women visitors were 5-points lower than the average scores given by men. It is because of two reasons: first, women shall have less visits and second, they may have less information of the stations and police officials.

The average score globally was 59.47 “adequate”, where the national average of 11 countries was within 10 points, higher or lower ranging from a low of 29.58 “totally inadequate” in Kenya to a high of 73.33 “more than adequate” in Latvia.  In Nepal the highest score was 69.33 while the lowest was 56.00. The average participation of police stations in Nepal was 63.06. In narrative reports, the visitors stated that such variation happened in the lack of the capacity within structure and operation due to such a diverse community, vulnerable victims including domestic or sexual violence, and physical disabilities.  However, in São Paulo, the visitors noted that only one woman employee could not be on duty all the time. However, more woman officers were to be recruited in Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Nepal, and elsewhere. But in a Cameroonian police station, several language translation facilities were managed to reflect the cultural diversity of the community, and were ground-breaking services for victims. A women’s police station El Agustino in Lima, Peru, was reportedly the first police station in the country and in all of Latin America to have a unit specializing in abused children and teenage offenders.

Several human rights standards such as Article 7 of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Civil and Political Rights, Code of Conduct, the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (“the Victims Declaration”), and the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women are applicable to ensure equal treatment to all in police stations. Non-compliance to them is a grave human rights violation and state is to be made responsible in handling it.

2.5 Transparency and Accountability Approach

Transparency and accountability are interrelated concepts, a mutually reinforcing mechanism that justifies on the basis of improved government effectiveness or efficiency (Center for Democracy and Governance: January 2000:3). Transparency and accountability are main constituents of good governance. Accountability includes checks and balances among branches of government, law enforcement, and voting in elections. Political theorists, namely Locke, Montesquieu, and Madison emphasized the need for centrality of accountability for good government (Djankov et al: May 2008:3), but in recent days accountability has been studied more systematically by political scientists and economists (Barro 1973, Persson and Tabellini 2000, and Besley 2006) focusing on decentralization. The accountability can only work in the presence of transparency (Djankov et al: May 2008:3). The concepts of transparency and accountability are closely linked: transparency is supposed to generate accountability (Gray-Molina, George at el: 2011). Transparency is either ‘crystal clear’ or ‘opaque’, while accountability is either ‘soft’ or ‘hard’. Transparency and accountability are the two sides of the same coin.

The Transparency and Accountability Approach (TAA) has been crucial in policing as the police officers are used to exercise power on behalf of the state. The public should have unregulated access to basic information on crime and the police should respond to it. The public should have the power to make a complaint against an officer. The visitors assessed the transparency and accountability and focused on whether information was easily available about crime rates and their patterns in the local community, whether information on arrests were easily available about police responses to crime locally, whether information to complain against an officer was easily available, and whether police personnel were easily identified because of their badges or other identification tags and uniforms.

The information visitors received in the assessed and observed countries on the TAA was varied.  In the case of Bangladesh, transparency and accountability scored higher than community orientation, but Brazil and Mexico, received the lowest transparency and accountability score.

The average score globally in the TAA area was 65.13 “adequate”, and in 12 countries, the national average area was within 10 points, higher or lower, of the global average ranging from a low of 39.33 “inadequate” in Benin to a high of 76.08 “more than adequate” in the United States.  Munea police station of Cameroon denied access to some of the detention cells. However, the head of the 3rd Police Precinct in Algarrobo, Chile hosts a weekly radio program on local crime and its prevention. The program encourages the neighborhood to form watch groups following police strategies and priorities. The radio also airs the number of people arrested each week. The highest score under the category was 71.33 and the lowest 57.67 with average stood at 63.50 in Nepal. Nepal police also host radio program twice a week in which airs mostly central level activities rather than to community issues. It does not have significant means to promote dialogue with the public, similar to Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.

Accountability demands more than openness; it requires satisfactory public deems. In Ghana, visitors faced hurdles in some stations and they called for officers to be more proactive against alleged suspects and not to be detained unnecessarily for longer than the law prescribed. Similar in Nepal, Kenya noted poor record keeping, lack of computers if at-all. Kenya needed to embrace a crime mapping system and other technologies to “curb the menace of crime and to improve on the inefficiency.”  In Nigeria, it was noted that the public were continued in their frustration. Indeed, police in developing countries need to focus on integrity and restoration of their image before the public on the course to facilitate efficiency in service delivery.

People are entitled to see accountability and for the government to show, explain, and justify discharged obligations regarding their rights. Accountability tends to be both prospective and retrospective. The prospective process draws attention to the police stations’ potential to improve their performance. The retrospective process draws attention to the remedies of stations’ obligations. Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.” Accountability includes monitoring of work, performance, and outcomes on a continuous basis by government and civil society, collaboratively or independently.

Developing and using indicators of transparency and accountability has become a cutting-edge area of advocacy. The fundamental acknowledgement of international human rights accountability accept the ratification and accession to Civil and Political Rights (CPR), Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR), International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), Rights of the Child, and the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.  The ratification of the ICCPR, ICERD, CEDAW, CAT and the Geneva Convention has individual complaints.

2.6 Detention Approach

The term “Detention” was first codified by international conventions as detention powers through the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 (Klein et al: 2011:96). The principle purpose of the detention was focused on the prisoners of war being treated humanely and to ensure an indispensable measure of safety (Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land:  October 18, 1907).  It requires the upkeep and conditions of confinement of prisoners of war (Hague Convention: July 29, 1899: Article 7). After the peace agreement or accord, the repatriation of prisoners of war takes place as soon as possible.” After World War I, the Hague regime was augmented by the adoption of Prisoners of War. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention III states, “prisoners of war have the right to have their person and their honor respected,” this has been an important innovation.

The rights of detained persons such as; safety, decent living and good treatment are guaranteed by international conventions for the protection of prisoners. The aspect of law enforcement has been an instrument to good community-policing relations. Visitors observed and rated four dimensions of the station’s detention conditions. They are: security of the areas the stations use to detain suspected criminals, visible identification of detainees (name tags, numbers), facilities for family members and lawyers to visit detainees, and sanitary environment of detention areas.

The average score globally was 62.04, but national averages were at a high of 76.23 in Russia and a low of 32.42, and ranging from 45.57 to perfect 100 scores among the 135 participating police stations in Kenya. The national average was at least 10 points lower than the global average in 11 countries. This approach has been a very important part, but that was a weak area of practice in many countries in the world.

In Kenya, a police station depicted nothing less than inhumane conditions where toilets were not working and toilet stalls had no doors. Though, medical aid was being provided to detainees who were sick. Brazil where national average score was 42.36, the detention facilities were the most negative point in one station even in Rio de Janeiro. Visitors in Ghana also found that detainees were encountering crowded cells without toilets and other poor treatment.

The Global Report 2010 says:

“Looking across countries, individual station scores ranged from “totally inadequate” or “inadequate” to at least “adequate,” if not better. Not true in Kenya, however, where detention conditions across all 20 participating stations appear to be poor. The highest score for any station was 40.00 (“inadequate”) and the average score nationally was 32.42 (“totally inadequate”). There were nearly unanimous calls among visitors to upgrade cells, just to meet the most basic standards: light, bedding, and blankets.”

The score ranged between 63.67 and 48.67 with a mean of 55.85 in Nepal. Most of the police detention rooms were crowded, dark, and dilapidated with small windows. Detainees compelled to eat unhygienic food and water if they did not have money to buy from the markets. In detention cells, toilets are often managed in one corner of the room, but are not flowing, unsanitary and smell repulsive. It seems that the toilets are without tap water to wash and in some cases without doors for increasing the severity of punishment. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, suffers from a scarcity of tap water. Moreover, the detainees, in some cases, must stay day-and-night on a floor even in winter seasons without blankets or a mattress.

In Maharajgunj police station, the detainees were competing to see the visitors from a half-covered moribund window and a dilapidated room. Two detainees were asking policeman to bring food buying from the market. A policeman carefully examined first the food a woman brought from her home for her detained relative in the cell. It means most of the detainees should manage food themselves or are compelled to often eat unhygienic food that the police station provided. It happens because either the Government of Nepal allocated small funds to the detainees’ for food or the funds are misused by the concerned officials. At Bauddha police station, visitors encountered problems taking photos, as the detainees hide their face; head bow or cover their face with clothes. Similarly, visitors of the detainees in Bauddha police stations fled when visitors tried to snap photos of them along with police officials. Nepali people often pray not to visit police stations on their lifetimes. They feel humiliation on such a visit.  Gaushala and Maharajgunj police stations were without woman detention centers.

The United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and so forth are a few human rights instruments in which they clearly stated to protect and respect detainees rights, but often in vain in least developed (ie, Nepal), developing (ie, India), and developed (ie, USA) countries. In many cases, the law enforcement agency of the station humiliates detainees as their own-opponent forces disrespecting national and international human rights standards.

2.7   Transformation Approach

Johan Galtung, father of peace studies, spent his entire life teachings, writing, mediating,  exchanging and sharing, principally advocating on conflict transformation by peaceful means, peace theory and practice, and empathy with diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy dimensions.  He has written more than 100 books on conflict and peace transformation, analyzing conflict and peace in the contemporary world. Transformation is a change, creatively and non-violently (Galtung:2000).

The transformation accepts the civil and political rights based on the concept of non-interference and freedom whereas social, economic, and cultural rights call for the state to take positive action on human rights and conflict transformation for a reality as a whole (Nderitu: June 2010:57).

Conflict transformation practitioners facilitate relationships between the state and civil society that tends to a problem-solving orientation (Diez et al: 2010:29).  W. Scharf and Nina D. said, “The transformation taking place is very comprehensive indeed: each state department is being radically restructured, its vision redefined, its staff adjusted to match the demographic realities of the country. All civil servants, including those in the justice system, have to learn, almost from the beginning, what it means to do their jobs in a democratic context” (2001:4-5). The transformation acknowledges the need for addressing power imbalances and recognizes a role for advocacy and the importance of voices that challenge the status quo (Parlevliet: September 2009:2). In this study, transformation knocks the systems, structures, operations, and relationships of the police station and behavior, attitude, and method of a policeman.

Over the years 2006-2010, the PSVW has mapped countless substantial improvements in police stations. Some stations have transformed from ominous places to warm and welcoming places. Such stations have literally transformed to provide a real service to the community. Moreover, the PSVW has gradually been creating special services for women, children, senior citizens, and improving conditions in detention cells. Besides, the police have dramatically been transforming their traditional mind-set, “civil society is permanently against with them again” welcoming friendship relations with civil society and community. The civil society organizations are also enduring genuinely introducing mutual cooperation, interaction, sharing, training for police stations’ institutional, and individual improvements or empowerments.

In four years of assessment, India, Nigeria, Liberia, and Peru, have received significant change on police personnel behaviors, their dealing with community or individual visitor(s), renovation of their physical conditions such as development of a ramp for differently able people, arrangement of women police to deal the cases of women, facilities of benches or chairs for the visitors, secret rooms for investigations, repairs of detention areas, information on police services, etc. While Nepal introduced the PSVW in 2009 and 2010, some changes have also been observed at the stations. The stations have developed a waiting hut with physical facilities, easily seen reception desk, notice boards on whom to meet for their assistance or enquiry, sanitary environments, names of the detainees written on the board, and many more other improvements. The concerned officials were polite and answered respectfully to the questions of visitors. Women have been encouraged to visit the station seeking security assistance. The belief of civil society, students, and community on police has gradually improved as policemen are responsible for public safety and fundamental human rights in normal situations except strikes, movements, agitations, etc. Even still though, police officials’ connection with politics, power, property, and privilege people often hurt the innocent, poor, marginalized, and vulnerable people.

Visitors in Anaheim, California stated that when they put forward feedback in 2009 to the concerned station, they did not receive information of any changes that had taken place in the year 2010.  The lobby had empty racks that could have housed information on crime prevention, police, city services, etc. A visitor to a station in Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria recounted the following: “The impression we got from the police was beyond bad. They treated us like criminals. They also called us criminals. We tried explaining to them…but they searched us and sent us out of the station” (Global Report 2010:2011).

In this context, the transformation approach refers as a principal tool of universality, indivisibility, and interdependence of all human rights.  Indeed also, transformation links with all the national and international human rights standards.


    Citizen-Centric Policing is based on the notion of community service and community fear reduction; community support to control crime, identification of suspects, arrests of alleged offenders, detention of perpetrators; and in bringing citizen’s problems to the attention of the police. The CCP is a strategic philosophy that promotes the systematic use of partnerships to proactively work with police toward better public safety and in the interest of controlling crime, and in reducing socio-cultural disorder, communal injustice, and fear of the institution.  Initiatives such as these improve police-community relations; increase education in police officials; make inclusion in the institution, and control discrimination. Citizen-Centric Policing principally focuses on the state’s compliance with all human rights standards in which it is concerned where state has ratified or acceded to do so. The administration of justice or judicial punishment against the extrajudicial killings, torture, other cruel and inhumane degrading treatment, arbitrary attest and detention, bad governance, looting, etc. are the major indicators of improvement of the community-policing. Implementation of human rights measures make police stations effective, efficient, and sensitive towards the community they serve. However, State should provide enough salary and benefits to maintain livelihood of the police families. As Nepal does not provide sufficient salary and benefits, the police officials are compelled to search other illegal sources of income that pollutes the entire police institution.

    The Altus initiates observation and analyze police stations are appreciated and such studies should be extended beyond the borders, in all human living geography, namely hill, mountain, tarai, from developed to developing countries. Monitoring mechanisms of the observation are to be strengthened so as not to repeat the perfect score (100 %) of the police stations. Nothing in this universe is perfect.  A score of one hundred percent means there is no need for any further improvement similar to that of the egalitarian society, the tenure of Ramrajya. If such scores are revealed again, the report is to be analyzed scrutinizing the peace index, democratic index, and human rights index, education, per capita income, and so forth of the concerned State’s police stations.  Otherwise, credibility of such studies would be questionable.


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    Bishnu Pathak, who holds a Ph.D. in Conflict and Human Rights, has been working at the Peace and Conflict Studies Center, (PCS Center, formally known as Conflict Study Center or CS Center) as a President and Director. He is a Secretary of Nepal Institute for Strategic Studies (NISS). He is a Convener of South Asia: TRANSCEND International and Board Member of TRANSCEND Peace University. His book Politics of People’s War and Human Rights in Nepal is a widely circulated volume. He is the author of a number of publications on human rights, UN, security, peace, and federalism including Nepal’s 2008 Constituent Assembly Elections: Converting Bullets to Ballots, brought out by the East-West Center Bulletin, Washington and Approaches to Peacebuilding with peace-conflict lifecycle in “Experiments with Peace” in October 2010, Oslo.

    This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Jun 2011.

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