Police accountability through technology


A laudable step is being initiated in Karachi to save people from abuses and negative practices of police. The authorities are reportedly set to launch a surveillance project to monitor activities of the police personnel on patrolling duties, snap checking and those deployed at checkpoints. Under this project, police personnel will wear body cameras to be provided by National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) that indeed is a step in the right direction to hold the force accountable for its acts.
Bearable body-worn cameras are often utilised by law enforcement agencies in several other countries that also record their interaction with public or gather video evidence at crime scenes. Thus this initiative will not keep an eye on the conduct and activities of police personnel but also go a long way in checking crime rate in the country’s economic hub. In our view, the surveillance project will only prove to be fruitful and make police personnel responsible if it is also coupled with strict action against those abusing the power. No leniency whatsoever should be shown to such police personnel under any circumstances, as doing so will be another injustice to the masses and waste of public money on such an important initiative. Since abuse of power by police is a common phenomenon, therefore, this project should also be emulated in other provinces after its successful implementation in Karachi. CCTV cameras should also be installed inside police stations to ensure effective accountability of the entire force.
More such initiatives, across the country, in the form of institutional reforms and depoliticising the police must be taken in order to transform this most important department into a people friendly and responsible force. Merit based recruitment and their training as per modern day requirements can help achieve this objective and improve police performance in dealing with different kinds of crimes. We need a police that is neutral, autonomous, professional and is able to protect the weak against law violators. This change in police culture can be attained by implementing, in letter and in spirit, reforms furnished by police reforms committee. Corruption and bribery in police stations can only be eliminated if they are provided sufficient funds to run their daily affairs.