Intensity of police investigations, effective maintenance of public order and successful prevention of crimes including traffic accidents are examples of police tasks which cannot be easily quantified. Several days of patient investigation may ultimately solve a burglary case but the evidence when presented in court with the complete recovery of property and a possible admission by the accused may appear very simple and straight, giving no indication at all of the labour and sweat involved behind the scene. People may happily witness the orderly conduct of a public function, but they may be unaware of the enormous work earlier done by the police in collecting intelligence and anticipating possible points of disorder and eliminating the likely causes for it.

             It is difficult for the police to state precisely how many crimes they have prevented during any specified period. Successful police performance cannot, therefore be totally linked with a mere statistical appraisal.  Yet it has been the practice, year after year, to present annual reports of police administration in every State in a routine format, which is mostly statistical and has remained unchanged for several years. Every police chief would like to claim that the performance of the force has been better during the current year than the previous year; Every Home Minister compliments his police chief on his statistical performance, and the annual ritual goes on. People, in the meanwhile, witness deteriorating standards in police performance at the police station level and are victims of increasing police harassment and high-handed behaviour. We must find a method for making the annual report of the police reflect the true position of the police in public estimate and not merely in the estimate of the police chief. Norms for evaluating police performance have to be evolved to meet public expectation, which is most important in a democracy. This paper attempts to identify some norms for this purpose.

             In any organisation, the accounts branch holds the key to know the health of the organisation. The boss of the organisation will be keenly watching the daily balance sheet and will insist on the accountant furnishing him with some key statements at frequent intervals to know the correct financial position. The format for these statements is decided by the boss, and not by the Accountant. Maintenance of accounts is no doubt the Accountant's responsibility but the ultimate feed back to the boss must cover the points, which the boss considers important. If it is left to the Accountant to devise his own format for presenting the financial picture to the boss, it may tempt the Accountant to slur over some deficiencies, connive at embezzlement by other staff and so on, which would ultimately be detrimental to the interests of the boss. The same analogy holds good for the presentation of the annual report on police work for the information of the public who is their boss.

             Statistical details in the present form of police annual reports refer mostly to the organisational structure of the department, the communication and transport facilities provided to them, the number of crimes reported and detected, the availability of scientific aids for investigation, and so on. The common citizen is not really interested in these details. If in a particular year, the government sanction additional jeeps for the police so that every Inspector of Police has a jeep for his movements, it does not mean any thing to the citizen if it merely facilitates greater misuse of the jeep for private work by more Inspectors; It will mean something for the public only if it results in more frequent appearance of the Inspectors at the doorstep of the citizen to relieve his distress.

            It is well known that all the crimes that actually occur are not fully reported to the police. Victims of petty crimes may not consider it worth their while to report them to the police. Further, the crimes that are actually reported are not all registered by the police. Selective registration is a malady that is seen in practically all police systems in the world. The percentage of non-registration may vary but the evil of non-registration persists. Apart from wanting to avoid additional work, the average police officer also wants to avoid unfavourable crime statistics at his station and hence keeps out of his record many crimes, which are likely to remain 'undetected' in his charge. Better registration of crimes is a must for proper evaluation of police performance. To facilitate better registration, the National Police Commission (NPC) has recommended the opening of more outposts to serve as mere 'reporting centres' without the responsibility for investigation, while the actual work of investigation will be taken up by a regular police station to which the outpost will be attached. The outpost need not have all the paraphernelia of a rigid police unit but may involve civilians like home guards, traffic wardens or civil defence volunteers, etc. Their residences may be recognised as reporting centres in specified localities. A chain of such reporting centres, specially in urban areas, will ensure better registration of crimes, leading to a more realistic appraisal of police performance on the whole.


            Public expect quick response from the police station to a distress call or any complaint of a specific offence. Sincerity and sympathy shown by a quickly responding police officer provide immediate satisfaction to the public, though the case may not ultimately get detected, despite best efforts by the police. Response time at police stations should, therefore, be documented in a carefully prescribed format and sent to police headquarters in the form of a daily report. At the headquarters all the incoming reports can be fed into a computer and a daily index of response time can be computed and monitored by the district authorities for corrective action whenever required. To prevent manipulation of response time by dishonest elements in the system, some kind of involvement of the complainant also in noting the response time may be thought of.


            Witnesses are now harassed by summonses for repeated attendance in court and their time is wasted by delay caused by adjournments on some ground or the other. A suitable report may be prescribed to go to police headquarters from the police station on each day of trial indicating the duration of court attendance and repetition of court attendance, if any. A computerised analysis of the reports would indicate if the inconvenience caused to witnesses on this account is kept at the minimum.


            Overall percentage of recovery of property means nothing to the individual victims of crimes. For example, if 10 cases of theft are reported in a station in which property worth Rs.100 was lost in each of 9 cases and property worth Rs.10,000 was lost in the 10th case, and the police recover the entire property in the last case but fail to recover any of the properties in the 9 other cases, the over-all value of property lost and property recovered will be reckoned as Rs.10,900 and Rs.10,000 respectively, leading to a fantastic recovery rate of 91.7%. The actual position is that among the 10 victims of thefts, who complained to the police, only one was satisfied with full recovery of his property while the remaining nine remained totally dissatisfied. The overall measure of public satisfaction may, therefore, be reckoned as 100+0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0 divided by 10 which amounts to 10% only. As against 91.7% of recovery of property there is only 10% of public satisfaction. This is a typical example of the unrelatedness of public satisfaction to the statistical efficiency that can be claimed by the department. We have, therefore, to strike a percentage of satisfaction in each individual case and then arrive at the overall figure which should then be taken into account for determining police efficiency.


            The existing arrangements in police stations do not monitor the ultimate return of the lost property to the complainant after the disposal of the case in court. Technically, this matter lies within the domain of the court but a lot of public good will can be earned if the police and the court act jointly to ensure quick restoration of such property to its lawful owner. The annual report should refer to this matter in some appropriate statistical form.


            There is no analysis in the present annual reports about the number and nature of complaints received against the police and effectiveness of the action taken on them. This matter merits specific mention in some elaborate form in the report.


            Some kind of opinion poll may be periodically conducted by some well motivated volunteer agencies recognised by the government, and the results of the poll in different areas of the State may be incorporated in the report.


            It is during inspections that the supervisory officers have a good opportunity to see the actual ground conditions at the police station level and evaluate the quality of police performance by a critical analysis of all the relevant factors followed by interaction with different sections of the local public. It is very unfortunate that in the dust and din of present day law and order work, which frequently calls for direct handling of situations by the senior supervisory officers, they have little time to do the stipulated field inspections properly. Inspection reports have tended to become routine documents presenting tailored statistics to present a rosy picture of a thorny field! This trend has to be reversed and station inspections must get back their due importance and serious attention from the supervisory levels. Statistical evaluation must be given up and every effort must be made by the Inspecting Officer to go into the quality of police work done. For example, in regard to arrests made by the police a study made by the NPC had shown that over 40% of the arrests were unnecessary. Meek and docile accused persons are promptly arrested while the tough and militant bad characters with a political colour manage to remain free. The quality of arrests made in a police station can be easily checked and inefficiency can be exposed by a discerning and well-motivated Inspecting Officer.


            Dealing with this subject in their Eighth Report, the NPC have observed as under:

            'The following yardsticks should be adopted by the State Police organisations for evaluating group-performance of the police at various levels:


Prevention of Crimes:

Investigation of Crime:

Law and Order :

Traffic Management :


Reputation for integrity and courtesy:

             Many of the indicators pointed out by the NPC have been discussed in the earlier paragraphs of this paper and some suggestions have been made for evaluation police performance with reference to these indicators. The suggestions are only illustrative. Discussions at a specially convened seminar or conference may throw up many more ideas and suggestions.