Federal govt prepares draft of police reforms


–Draft amendments discuss ways of holding police responsible for illegal actions while preserving their autonomy

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has prepared a draft of recommendations for amending the Police Order/Act in order to reform the police force.

According to the proposed reforms, Provincial Police Complaints Authority will be established with legal and administrative expertise to look into cases of police misconduct. The authority will also have the power to take suo-motu notice against officials.

The proposed authority would be autonomous in nature and would be able to hold investigations directly in case of death or serious injury due to police action. The authority will have access to records for investigative purposes.

According to the draft, the authority must comprise of one director general and up to five directors at the provincial level. It added that at least one director must be a retired police officer while the other four could be chosen from prosecutors, lawyers and civil servants with significant experience and one member may be a lay person. “Regional Complaint Authority shall have same composition at Region Level (one director and five deputy directors) and it must have permanent staff, including professional investigators,” the draft read.

According to proposed police reforms, use of technology should be promoted in all facets of police and criminal justice and Safe City Authorities should be established in all provinces. “Place Special Branch would be directly under the chief minister as it will give them more autonomy and freedom of reporting about police excesses,” the draft added.

It also said that there should be a separate recruitment of qualified civilian cadre besides police officers as is the case in Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for improved efficiency.

“Prosecution should be empowered and strengthened. Cabinet Sub-Committee on Law and Order would review progress for early disposal of cases. External inspectorates on similar lines of police will be established for prison and prosecution and government should be empowered to hold the police accountable while ensuring its operational autonomy,” the draft added.

About internal accountability, the draft stated that comprehensive standards on police investigations and other work will be laid down while use of technology will be promoted in all facets of police and criminal justice system besides Forensic Science Agencies to be made functional in provinces.

“Provincial governments to allocate budgets for forensic science agencies and provide statutory cover where not already present,” the draft stated.

It added that police would ensure that all persons tasked with inspections are certified to undertake inspections and internal accountability branch to be placed under additional IGP for compliance.

Proposed police reforms also disclosed that Public Safety Commissions will be abolished and independent external inspectorates will be established by law.

“The inspectorate must comprise of a director general and up to seven chief inspectors and at least one chief inspector must be a retired police officer, while the others could be from prosecutors, lawyers, civil servants and auditors with significant experience, and one chief inspector may be a lay person. Provincial government would bring law for external inspections by September 30,” the draft stated.

To safeguard against internal maladministration, the draft stated that posting proposals should be made by an internal board of senior police officers on the basis of demonstrated performance and recommendations should be made to IG, who would then recommend a panel of three officers in order of priority, along with performance chart, to CM for approval (Only for DPO/RPO/Addl IG) and the CM shall appoint officer among panel of three officers. Move over, premature transfer can be ordered by the government with justification.

The draft also stated that only trained and certified officers should be posted in investigations and senior manager positions and certification framework to be formulated by the PPO in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and the framework will be approved by the cabinet. For this, Police Order/Act will be amended accordingly.

The draft also proposed that financial autonomy would be provided to improve performance and service delivery and, for this purpose, station house officers (SHOs) should be declared drawing and disbursing officers. Provincial government should issue detailed rules regarding items of expenditure and method of advance drawls while baselines expenditures should be determined for each police station.