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British police

June 09, 2019

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APROPOS the letter ‘British Police’­ (May 25) in response to my letter ‘Police officers’ postings’ (May 19).

The superintendence of the elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in the UK under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, extends much farther than a chief minister’s powers in Pakistan, which are being questioned by a group of retired IGs. While the chief minister can only post and transfer the head of the police force in Pakistan, the PCC in UK appoints and can dismiss him. The subordination to elected representatives in the UK is total.

The author observes that spans of command of a chief constable and a district superintendent of police “may be similar in some cases in terms of staff, territorial area” but that “their constitutional positions and accountability mechanisms are entirely different”. I agree. I had only compared them because of the similarity of area jurisdictions.

Compared to only 40 area jurisdictions in UK there are 132 in Pakistan called districts, because Pakistan is about four times the size of UK. The 27,805 square mile area of just one district, Chaghi is more than one-third of the UK. All DSPs and SHOs in a district are operationally accountable to the SP, just like all junior ranks are to the chief constable.

The British conceived the district SP post way back in 1808 and the posts of Range DIG above him and DSPs/SHOs below him were created nearly a 100 years afterwards in 1902. The district SP was thus the most important cog of criminal administration in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and there was a rationale behind it.

The maintenance of law and order is the integral responsibility of a government. Not only economic progress but the very survival of a government depends upon public peace. Given the peculiar culture of incessant rallies, sit-ins, long-marches and political power shows, it is a different ball game in this part of the globe.

No political government can afford to lose the total and uninhibited subordination of the district SP.

Rafi Pervaiz Bhatti

Lahore

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2019