EditorialSanctum

India short of 5 lakh police; why it matters

India was short of more than half a million police officers on January 1, 2015, the last date for which nationwide data is available. But our analysis of global police staffing patterns and murder rates in six countries suggests more police do not necessarily mean less crime. Up to 90% of Indian police officers currently work for more than eight hours a day, according to a 2014 report from Bureau of Police Research and Development. It said 68 per cent of police report working 11 hours a day, and 28% report 14-hour work days. Nearly half report that they are called to duty between eight and 10 times a month during offs.

There were 17.2m police officers across 36 states and union territories, when there should have been 22.6 million, according to the ministry of home affairs. There should be an officer for every 547 Indians, according to a government-mandated ratio — called “sanctioned strength” in official jargon — but the number is one for every 720.

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