(Nepal Police has been continually used as a tool of Repression by various regimes)
Nepal Police is specifically mandated with the purpose of preserving internal peace and security inside the country. The history of policing in Nepal dates back to the unification process, when contingents of the army (officially designated as KOTWAL, UMRAO, FAUSDAR and NAIKE) were assigned to internal security duties. The military domination of policing continued up until the advent of democracy following the 1950 revolution. With the enactment of the Police Act in 2012 B.S, the foundations for the modern civil police force were created.
While there is a long history of police control, the system in Nepal has come to be identified as serving the interests of ruling government. As exemplified in the democratic revolutions of 1950, 1980, 1990, and 2006; the 1992 civil servants' revolt; the 1995 Madan Bhandari's death revolt; Jana Yuddha (People's war) and current Bulldozer operation (in the name of road widen) as well, Nepal Police has been continually used as a tool of repression.
After 25 May 2006, the signing of a ceasefire between the political parties of Nepal (as represented by the Seven Party Alliance) and the Maoists, conflict between the government and insurgents effectively stopped. This has allowed most police posts to be re-established and police strength has been increased. At present, the total number of serving police personnel is approximately 62,000. These police personnel are deployed among five regions, fourteen zones and seventy-five districts. In addition, a Metropolitan Police system has also been introduced in the Kathmandu Valley to manage effective law and order in the capital city.
As the most visible arm of the state and the civil agency for law enforcement and the maintenance of public order, Nepal police is only the key actors in post-conflict environment. It is widely recognized, post-conflict setting require special security provision for the maintenance of law and order. The development of internal security capabilities in countries emerging from armed conflict has to be a matter of great concern to policy maker(s) and government at large. Naturally, post-conflict states typically confront a complex array of different challenges in maintaining peace in society.
On the contrary, post conflict formed government started to de-establish the Police organization. First, they sacked the then police chief and few senior officers without any reason or whatsoever, and appointed very weak personality as a Chief of police; moreover he was not even in the leadership row. Then started political interference in different internal sectors of police even, for example, on recruitment, promotion, placement and transfers. Right man could not hold the right responsibility. Professionalism, ethics, norms, integrity, discipline command and control has been destroyed through excessive interference. The organization became complete de-establish one. Criminalization of politics also started. Corruption is also a chronic and extremely serious practices imbedded in police department after post conflict constituted government. Sudan Scandal is one of the most horrible example where the then ruling government misused police department for their benefits. Due to Sudan Scandal, Police image has been very badly hurt nationally and internationally. The corrupt actions of political players with criminalization of politics have exacerbated the growth of corruption in police. The new briefcase culture has developed at all level of police personnel that as long as they pleased political patrons, they are free to do whatever they wanted, regardless of whether it be illegal or immoral act. It developed the culture of impunity that is in essence very damaging to public security. In addition, historic misuse, the past insurgency, absence of effective leadership, physical facilities constraints, Nepal Police seems to be fully demoralized and unable to successfully fulfill their assigned mandate.
The primary responsibility of Police is to protect and safe guard the life, property and dignity of the people. To this end, security providers need to be vigilant in their duties to citizens, in particular those that are most vulnerable. Due to ineffective mobilization and demoralized organization, trafficking of small arms has become a common phenomenon, and thus killing, extortion, abduction, intimidation, bomb blasting have become rampant. Given the apparent inability of law enforcement agencies to tackle these problems, people have lost their faith in the police and as a result do not report incidents for fear of reprisals.
Nepal police is the main organization entrusted with protection the safety and security of the people. However, there has been a crisis of confidence in the police due to above mentioned practices. Moreover, the police have been overtly misused by ruling elites for their own interests. As a consequence, general feelings of suspicion, injustice, mistrust and insecurity are often associated with law enforcement in Nepal.
It is clear from the above discussion that the law enforcement mechanism has to be divorced from its past traditions, and must be seen to have adopted a new philosophy for policing that is to uphold the law fairly and firmly; to prevent the crime; to pursue and bring to justice those who break the law; to help and reassure the community. Rampant corruption and nepotism in the police should be discouraged. Politicization of the police and their misuse by political parties has to be stopped. Police ownership which is exclusively only to Home Ministry has to be accountable to the public as well. Police chief must be accountable to the Home Ministry as well as to the public. Additional Inspector General (AIGP) to Constable should be loyal to the Chief of police. Every Regional, Districts, Illaka, ward and police posts heads should be accountable and committed to their respective responsibilities.
Police officer(s) must be compassionate, courteous and patient, acting without fear or favor or prejudice to the rights of others. Police service should enjoy widespread public support and trusted by each and every part of the community. It should be driven by the concept of service provider to society. The new methodology will only work if we empower local communities to engage in the common endeavor of beating crime.
Community based Policing is both a philosophy (a way of thinking) and an organizational strategy that allows the police and the community to work closely together in creative ways to solve the problems of crime, fear of crime, physical and social disorder and the overall quality of life in the community. The philosophy rests on the belief that people deserve input into the police process, in exchange of their participation and support. It also rests on the belief that solution to today’s community problems demand freeing both people and the police to explore creative, new ways to address community concerns beyond a narrow focus on individual crime incidents. At the forefront should be the idea of policing in partnership', a concept which relies upon the development of a community-safety –oriented style of policing. It should be based on integrity, openness and transparency.
The basic aims of this policing model are as follows:
# Service Delivery: Policing with community implies a new contract between the police and the citizens they serve. The new relationship, based on mutual trust and respect, challenging people to accept their share of responsibility for the overall quality of life in the community. Citizens will be asked to handle more of their minor concern themselves, but in exchange this will free police to work with people on developing immediate as well as long term solutions for community concepts in ways that encourage mutual accountability and respects. This concept stresses exploring new ways to protect and enhance the lives of those who are most vulnerable.
# Partnership: Community based policing adds a vital element to the traditional reactive role of the policing, resulting in full spectrum proactive policing. Nepal police is only the organization that opens 24 hours a day, seven days a week for rendering service to the needy people. Policing with community consultation will pre determine the community needs and policing priorities that can make a greater proactive impact on communities safer and more attractive to live tomorrow.
# Problem Solving: Continuous contact with the law-abiding citizens, the police can explore creative new solutions to local concerns. Citizens can serve as supporters or volunteers on every problem solving mechanism. As law enforcement officer, police can take positive help in arresting the offenders as well.
# Empowerment: Policing with the community’s organizational strategy first demands that everyone in police department must prepare themselves to follow the philosophy of power-sharing into practice. Empowerment is the commitment of management style that empowers to every police personnel to tackle local issues. It grants greater autonomy to line officer to make immediate decision that enhance respect for their judgment as police professional. To implement policing with the community, the police department must also create and develop a new breed of line officers who can act as a direct link between the police and the people in the community.
# Accountability and Commitment: Accountability is the key issue in strengthening community engagement in policing. Who is responsible for what terms in policing should be clearly mentioned. Job description, responsibility, nature and division of work should be clearly mentioned. It is necessary to clarify and strengthen accountability arrangements in a number of areas: the police service itself and the work of other partners involved in help keeping communities safe. Police commitment and accountability to community safety is the basic needs of modern policing.
# Developing community engagement: Basic aim is to increase and strengthen community engagement in policing and to see the development of a more visible and accessible police service. Better information about community safety in local areas is a necessary first step towards increasing local engagement, assisting locally accountability bodies to carry out their role in scrutinizing performance, and holding those bodies more effectively to account. Public awareness and distributing public safety information to local communities will be important in increasing public confidence in the performance of police services. Local public would be able to use performance information, crime and other data to better engage with and hold to account those responsible for community safety in their areas. Such information would help people challenge, if needs be, those who might claim that improvements in tackling crime in their areas could not be done. Information can be communicated through internet, using libraries, supermarkets, community centers, and local media.
The rights and duties of police units are identified in the Police Act of 2012 BS but needs radical amendment that current Act is insufficient and absolute. Similarly the role of the police and communities in crime investigation are clearly mentioned in the Criminal Procedure Act. Therefore, government commitment and organizational dedication are required for effective implementation of new policing system to cope with current problem and public desire.
Policing should be decentralized, so as to enable a participative and consultative style of management. Accordingly, communities and local-level police forces can work in partnership to prepare and execute policies that are relevant. Police Headquarters would then act as a facilitator, by issuing organizational directives, and monitoring norms, values and policies. Moreover, a separate Community safety department must be established in Police Headquarters so as to provide greater supervision and facilitation of all district community partnership activates.
A review of current recruitment practices, in combination with a broader training focus for middle-and lower-level police personnel, is also essential. Necessary professional subjects need to be complemented by education on community-focused areas, such as social diversity, culture, conflict resolution and mediation. The current reward system is also in need of change, with achievement of community goals and public safety need to be utilized as the best indicators of performance.
Working in partnership is not simply a model to be adopted for particular situations, but rather must be at the core of service delivery. District police offices and their subordinate units (Thaana, Ilaka and Ward police) are solely responsible in developing effective partnership approaches to tackling the safety, crime and disorder within their respective districts. District Police Command also has to perform other various task of policing within their jurisdiction besides crime prevention and control.
For effecting implementation of policing in partnership, a separate body of District Police Partnership should be established under the chairperson of District Development President in every district. The establishment of district policing partnerships within every district command area will significantly impact on legislative responsibility for consultation with the community on policing issues. Metropolitan police will establish partnership with respective Municipality.
District and Metro Policing partnerships will be responsible for obtaining the views of the public regarding the policing of the district and municipality, addressing crime prevention issues, monitoring police performance and presenting those views to District Police Commander.
At the local level, the goal will be achieved by working with the community through local officers and community groups. Community consultation and problem-solving will be the central features of policing in partnership that will improve the safety and reassurance of the public, especially those at risk of harm.
District police officers must also be more empowered and local-level agencies (Thaana, Ilaka and Ward Police) must be held increasingly accountable to local communities.
Overall, community policing should be understood as law enforcement in co-operation with local society, thus necessitating the empowerment of the principles of self-policing and decentralization. This evolution in policing will require positive political discipline, public self-control and a high rate of literacy. These requirements mean that there is only limited opportunity to facilitate this end in the present context of Nepal. This does not mean, however, that there are no grounds for advocating for the institutionalization of community policing.
The system of autocratic management, as inherited from the military, must be changed to one that is more participatory, open and transparent. Service delivery, partnership, problem-solving empowerment and accountability are the basic keys for successful community based policing. All police personnel should be empowered to determine their own local priorities and set objectives within the parameters of an overall policing plan.
Policing is not a soft option; all police officers have a legal and ethical duty to maintain the public order and to enforce the law for the protection and security of the public. Policing achieves this end through the facilitation of partnership between statutory agencies, non-governmental organizations and the local public.
This alliance allows the police not only to draw upon the attributes of others, but also to access resources and information contained within a community. This union is therefore beneficial for all parties as communities want law enforcement when they are affected by crime.
The purpose of community-based policing is to prevent, reduce or contain the social and environmental factors which cause crime and anti-social behavior. To improve community safety and reassure the public (especially those in particular risk of harm) of the value of this partnership process, three strategies need to be pursued:
# At the national level, the government needs to work with the police to formulate policy that will support and shape operational activity;
# At the district level, it is essential to have system of policing partnerships with other agencies, so as to local strategy that is capable of meeting the needs of communities (as previously identified by consultation and participation); and
# At the local or field level, officers and community groups, with community consultation and problem-solving featuring prominently in activities relating to policing.
Police alone cannot reduce crime. A problem-solving approach with other agencies has to be developed, for example;
# It is necessary to promote awareness of the public's role and responsibility in crime prevention and reduction. Empowering local people to share information and networks to engage with local police.
# Closer links between the police and local communities would encourage greater reporting of crime and suspicious activities, and negate concerns regarding intimidation.
# Patrol strategies should be developed in order to provide public reassurance through highly visible policing.
# Enhancing the leadership capacity, strong, transparent accountability is vital for community confidence.
The success of policing is dependent upon a dynamic leadership that has the ability to adapt or initiate change(s) on those practices considered to be unsuitable. It is also necessary that they be able to recognize opportunities and manage obstacles effectively. At present, at all levels are lacking dynamic leadership. It is important to remember that "leaders are not born, they are made"; thus, training, experience, opportunity and commitment to develop should be recognized.
Ultimately, all police personnel in Nepal should embrace community based policing. While it is impossible to transform a huge organization overnight, several steps can be implemented towards this end:
# Police managers should build a culture of teamwork;
# Community officers, and those with specialist training, must be flexible in their deployment;
# The principle of modern policing must underpin all policing activities, including public order and criminal investigation;
# A national system of 'policing in partnership' in Nepal has to be agreed upon, together and implementation strategy.
# Decentralization and self-governance concepts have to be supported by the government as one of its priorities; and
The police need to work in partnership with the public so as to encourage independent problem-solving.
# Paper presented by author at a "National Seminar on Civil Military (Security) Relations in Nepal" Co-hosted by Nepal Ex. Police Organization and SLRC/ FES-Nepal. Thanks the author and the FES, Nepal Office: Ed.