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A success story of cultural transformation in policing

Pakistan on 02 August 2013
Location : Pakistan | Source : The Nation.

The Pakistan Motorway Police has earned the respect and confidence of the public within a short span of time. The common perception about police and policing in Pakistan is hopelessly dismal. Where corruption has become almost a disease in Pakistan affecting every aspect of our political, social and economic sectors, in the police it stands out like a sore thumb and its conspicuousness is due to its criticality and impact on good governance of the country and the negative general public view or impression it is bound to create. The country has been contending with the issue of corruption for the last several decades, but its efforts could best be labelled as “fire fighting” attempts at curbing public sector corruption.

Not very long ago the traffic culture on Pakistan’s highways was characterised by a contemptuous disregard for traffic rules, an almost non-existent enforcement apparatus, and a very high ratio of accidents. Every year, 7000 people lost their precious lives and another 75,000 received injuries in road accidents. This meant a staggering 19 deaths and 205 injuries per day. The response of the Government of Pakistan to all this was swift and sweeping, and that was the establishment of National Highways and Motorway Police, which was specifically tasked to rectify the situation. This was easier said than done, but the gauntlet was valiantly taken up by the pioneers of the force. It was a gigantic task that needed considerable mental and material input. The same was, however, made available and the force became operational. The result has been a success, which could not only be referred to as exemplary, but also bewildering as reflected in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Report 2002: “With regard to petty and middling corruption, the consensus has been that there is hardly an arm of government, which does not suffer acutely from corruption, with the exception of the Motorway Police.”

Fortunately, Pakistan’s Motorway Police has emerged as a model and an exemplar of a corruption-free police. It is commonly believed, supported by studies, that it is actually a graft-free police force, created as a result of the cultural transformation in policing. Seventy percent of the research on policing in the world encompasses police culture and its effect on police conduct. It has been established by independent research and analysis that the prevalent police culture determines the prevalent police conduct with the public. Therefore, it would be naive to expect public-friendly policing from a para-military policing outfit. This can only be possible if a strategy is formulated to transform the para-military culture by qualitative improvement in the training ecology and the work station ecology of the organisation as reflected below:

The success story of Pakistan Motorway Police revolves around the cultural transformation in police attitude by ensuring qualitative improvement in the training ecology and provision of a compatible workstation ecology. Needless to say, the service-oriented and public-friendly police model was the ultimate goal through this cultural transformation.

Research studies into the personality profile of a police officer reveals that the common policeman suffer from a deep-seated syndrome, which we may name as the “stress-prone personality disorder”, caused by one or more of the following factors that lead to his erratic and delinquent behaviour, giving rise to ever-increasing corruption, moral as well as intellectual, human rights excesses, misdemeanour and misbehaviour with the general citizenry, and a mindset that police cannot be subjected to any kind of accountability or scrutiny.

Case studies on police training in Pakistan reveal that our training institutions have been producing “Reactive” police officers due to a negative training environment. A comprehensive strategy was devised to provide positive training environment for motorway police officers in the light of the following benchmarks:-

Training Strategy and Ecology:

  • T.N.A. to assess training needs.
  • Swot analysis T.N.A technique.
  • Quality instructors.
  • Modern techniques of instruction:
  • Syndicate/participative system
  • Simulation exercises
  • Case studies
  • Driving skills
  • Respectful training environment.
  • Foreign training.

Training:

  • Batches of officers were sent to UK (Wales) and Germany for specialised training.
  • Staff from UK police was called to impart training in Pakistan.
  • Training in the use of modern electronics/gadgets.
  • Training in first aid to help the injured in accidents.
  • Refresher courses.

It would be counterproductive to give high profile training to an officer without provision of a compatible workstation ecology. Therefore, a qualitative change in the workstation environment was brought about as a result of the following measures based on international standards:

Workstation Ecology:

  • Manageable span of control.
  • Neat and clean working environment.
  • Camp living
  • Mess facility
  • Sports activities
  • Motivation and morale
  • Chain of command.
  • Shift system and monthly rest.
  • Compatible workstation and training ecology.
  • In-built system of reward and punishment.
  • Minimum weaponry displayed.
  • Only moving violations checked. No documents seized.
  • Force responsible for traffic discipline, safety of commuters and initial action in crimes.

It is erroneous to think that repressive or oppressive tactics can control crime and restore order to the society. These are reactive methods of policing. Proactive policing comprises preventive measures and community participation to curb crime. A policeman is not only a law enforcer, but also a peace officer, who is expected to resolve conflicts between people. In this manner, he becomes a friend of the people, who receives respect and participation from them. His task, thus, becomes easier, creative, interesting and meaningful. Therefore, in order to attract quality police officers, the following incentives were given for their selection on merit in the Pakistan Motorway Police:

  • Attractive salary package.
  • One step promotion.
  • Free accommodation.
  • Shift system (eight hrs duty).
  • Proper mess arrangement.
  • Reward for good work.
  • Free uniform.
  • Indoor/outdoor sport facility.
  • Four days rest in a month.
  • Free medical treatment.
  • Choice postings (near to home).

The writer is a PhD and former inspector general of the National Highways and Motorway Police.

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