LAHORE - Bribery, illegal detention, extrajudicial killings, misuse of power, and faulty investigations are still the hallmark of the Punjab police. Police officers want independence from political interference but the politicians don’t want to lose their hold over the largest law enforcing agency.

The incidents of heinous crimes reported this year so far depicts a gloomy picture of the worsening law and order situation in the Punjab province, where the corruption-riddled police are literally unable to tackle organized crimes including targeted killings.

The data collected from the Punjab police reveals that a total of 360260 cases of crimes of different nature have been reported in the province during the first 11 months of 2013 against 366266 cases reported during the same period in 2012. The comparative analysis of the crimes statistics shows a minor decrease in the overall reported incidents yet the situation is still disappointing.

This year, the police so far have reported at least 52976 cases of crimes against person against 56556 cases of crimes against person reported in 2012. The police also reported a total of 95148 cases of crimes against property in 2012 and this year the police registered 90526 cases of crimes against property including dacoities, robberies, auto-lifting, and kidnapping for ransom. Police record reveals that at least 25,000 vehicles were either snatched or stolen away from different parts of the province this year.

As per a recently finalized police report, the provincial police arrested at least 17042 proclaimed offenders who were wanted to the police in heinous crimes including the cases of murder, dacoity, robbery, kidnapping for ransom and gang rape. At the same time, more than 105000 proclaimed offenders are still at large.  This year, the police have so far reported 17596 cases of robberies, 6642 of cattle-theft and above 2300 incidents of dacoities, which involves more than five gangsters.  The provincial police had reported as many as 395,000 cases of crimes of different nature in the year 2012 in the province against 419,365 in 2011, 386,437 in 2010, 383,379, in 2009, and 374,400 in 2008.

The provincial government took a lot of initiatives to improve law and order situation. The Police School of Information and Analysis, the Punjab Forensic Science Agency, a few model police stations and professional training courses initiated by foreign agencies for the policemen are some of the initiatives taken by the present regime in Punjab.

To hunt down the organised criminals, the police, to some extent, have started using sophisticated and scientific methods of investigations since the provincial government launched multiple initiatives to train and educate the police investigators on modern lines to enhance their capacity for effective forensic and crime scene investigation processes.

As a matter fact, investigation arm of the police have failed to solve almost all the high-profile cases reported in the provincial metropolis in 2013. Many cases, from sectarian killings to bomb blasts, have been declared as untraceable in the police record.

The department has taken a special initiative on the direction of Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Khan Baig to train the police investigators. Police officers say that the provision of modern equipment, introduction of scientific principles of investigation, and improvement of professional skills would enable the police to cope with the emerging challenge of organised crime and terrorism.

Several batches investigation officers (IOs) are being imparted training at the Chuhng Police Training College. Crime scene preservation and lifting of forensic evidence are the most complicated areas for cops, who are generally blamed for defective investigations resulting in poor conviction rates. The police observers believe that there is an urgent need to switch over from having confessional statements of criminals to evidence-based investigation for getting them convicted by the courts.

According to a research, in democracies, the relationship between the police and the political executive is always close. Both are bound in the common enterprise of preventing and investigating crime, maintaining law and order and ensuring that society has a well provisioned, well-functioning essential service that protects life, liberty and property. Those who fear losing their grip over the police sometimes deliberately like to create the impression that any rein on the unfettered exercise of will over the police will create an entirely independent and out of control police force. Ironically though, today’s dysfunctional police-executive relationship has given us a force with very few limits on its power. There is no question but that the political executive must always be paramount. But the relationship has to be symbiotic, not parasitic or dependent.