Why do we need soft policing?
By: Dr. Satyavan Saurabh
Soft policing focuses on the non-essential elements of policing, where community engagement, located knowledge, and interaction are used as powerful tools to fight social evils. Getting the public out of illegal activities requires the ethical aspects of emotional intelligence and persuasive skills. Ethically, it rests on the principle of corrective justice, in which the offender is rehabilitated by improving his moral outlook. With the attainment of independence, it was assumed that the administrative machinery would automatically become people-oriented. But when the character of political power has not changed much, then how will the bureaucracy or police change? Police reforms are not only the need of the 21st century but since independence, there was scope for improvement in it, which went on increasing with time. “A strong society respects and supports its police, while a weak society looks at the police with distrust and often finds it standing against itself”.
Why do we need soft policing today? The NCRB report 2020 highlights the rapid rise in various crimes, especially crimes against women and children, showing the ineffectiveness of traditional methods of policing. The production, trafficking, and consumption of drugs and psychotropic substances on a large scale contribute to society’s addiction. Attitude change in society will ensure that how our next generation will inculcate good values and morals through the process of socialization. Combating violence through non-violence, for example- soft policing can be leveraged to bring about behavioral change in society like in the scheme of surrender-cum-rehabilitation of terrorists in the Northeast.
Motivating youth through education, role models, and other means to get out of drugs, crime, and other malpractices as well as ensuring their economic participation in creative activities can bring about positive social change. Through action-oriented campaigns, the police can spread social awareness on a wide scale. Executing a rehabilitation drive, as Tejashwi Satpute (Captain of Police, Solapur Rural) launched ‘Operation Parivartan’ in September 2021, a four-point action plan, with a concerted action on the brewery (hand kilns) Soft policing methods like counseling were also added with the Social consciousness about constitutional duties such as ‘promoting the spirit of harmony and equal brotherhood among all the people of India’.
If a criminal is acquitted by the court, then the public thinks that all this has been possible only because of the inaction and failures of the police. They do not have the slightest knowledge that this entire criminal justice system including prosecutors, (public prosecutors) and courts also makes the criminal free from crime by giving him many kinds of exemptions. After all, what is the reason that every person, whether intellectuals, journalists, filmmakers, or the judiciary, always look at the police in a negative light? Politicians keep on baking their political loaves by making the police their weapon and the police arranged for the service and security of the society keeps on thrashing them everywhere. The main reason for this has been that the people of the society, especially in villages, towns, and cities, the police never made the public aware of their condition, helplessness, legal responsibilities, etc.
In such a situation, along with encouraging women to join the police, and to shift from hard policing to soft policing, the police forces will have to be sensitized. Soft skills such as vocational training, gentle behavior, and refined vocabulary will need to be developed. The approach of problem-solving i.e. following the moral principles of Gandhiji, “Hate the sin and not the sinner” will have to be adopted in practice. For police personnel, Seva bhava (sense of duty) should be the driving force and not the ego of power. There is a need to bring the general public with the police, only then, by becoming the shield of the police, alert citizens without uniforms can make an important contribution to improving the gait, character, and face of the police by becoming their true companions, sympathizers, and sympathizers.
The police also need to change their attitude in this regard. Policemen should not forget that their humanity is more important than their rank. They should not forget that to make their inherited stained face clean and beautiful, there is a need to apply soap and shampoo in a public form, otherwise, they will keep wandering like this with their so-called foggy and stained face and the public will keep on scolding them. Under Article 38 of the Indian Constitution, it is the constitutional duty of the state to secure a social order to promote the welfare of the people. Thus, we must explore all means, including soft and hard policing, to achieve the ultimate goal of achieving social, political, and economic justice for all.
The writer is Poet, Independent Journalist, Columnist, All India Radio and TV Panellist.