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Insights into Editorial: Budgeting for the police


Insights into Editorial: Budgeting for the police




Despite the appointment of multiple commissions to reform the governance of police forces across the country, the state of police forces in the country has not changed. Police forces have received no more than cosmetic treatment at the hands of the government. There is a perceptible dissatisfaction about policing in India among the people. It is argued that this poor performance is mainly due poor resourcing, and that the police require a higher quantum of budgetary allocations.


Problems with police budgets:

  • Various studies have shown that budget outlays for the police only meet the establishment cost. Salary is the main component of budget, consuming almost 90% of the total allocation. The residual amount covers costs of domestic travel, maintenance of motor vehicles and petrol cost. Budgets, as they stand, barely allocate funds for operational expenses of running police stations, or maintenance costs for computer systems, arms and ammunition.
  • Police budgets have focused solely on manpower. On an annual basis, budgets do not have allocations towards capacity building, and are not structured to achieve desired outcomes.
  • The police also suffers from inadequate expenditure management. Expenses on items other than salary are not monitored frequently enough.
  • There is no investment in basic infrastructure and human resources in policing. The police continue to lack basic amenities and support.


What has been done to modernize the police forces in the country?

The Modernisation of Police Forces Scheme to fund deficiency in state police infrastructure has been in existence since 1969-70, the cost of which is shared by the Centre and states. Annual allocations to this fund were raised substantially, following the BPR&D study. Since 2000, the focus has been to build secure police stations, increase the supply of police housing, improve forensic laboratory, equipment, training infrastructure, communication systems and mobility of the police force.

However, the scheme has had limited success. The scheme has been able to fill very limited gaps compared to the actual requirements of the police forces. Inadequate training and lack of funds for repair and maintenance of assets created under the scheme continue to pose challenges. Under-utilization of funds as a result of delays in release of funds and cumbersome asset-procurement processes is another challenge. 


Way ahead:

As with any budget, police budgets too need to be tied to outcomes. Broadly, the desired outcomes of policing are:

  • safety and security of citizens.
  • Collection of intelligence.
  • Investigation of crime.
  • Sound public order.


What can be done to create conditions conducive for outcomes?

  • First and foremost, aligning budgets to these outcomes will require outlays to fully cover the office or operating expenses of the police station. It is estimated that office or operation costs for running a police station in an urban area are around Rs5–6 lakh per year, while the figure for rural areas is between Rs4-5 lakh per year. This cost estimate covers expenses on any item of miscellaneous nature, such as stationery, translations, etc., while performing police duty.
  • The second input to achieve these outcomes is to build capacity within the police. This may be through focused training to keep pace with the changing nature of crime and prevention techniques, or the creation of IT infrastructure for tracking cases to tackle delays due to mounting pendency. It will also require investment in management techniques, soft skills, new technology, and building of databases to allow for seamless access to information, among other heads.



As the law enforcement agency of the government and the first point of contact in the criminal justice system, the police is critical for sound law and order, and a good quality of life. It needs to be emphasised that police reforms are absolutely essential if India is to emerge as a great power. A dynamic process of evaluating the needs of effective policing, and aligning the budgets accordingly is an important step towards achieving a well-functioning police.