Police rights and police history has been a subject of limited interest to the scholars of criminal justice, labor history and industrial relations across the world (Baker, 1999). Whenhuman rights of police are prescribed and debated, the issue creates much controversy and draws strong reaction from the academician, human rights experts, police controlling authority and public (Marks & Fleming, 2006). Police are usually perceived as state agents that serve the interest of the government.
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They think that police are bound to respect human rights of the population they serve while performing duties and functions specifically during using force, arresting and detention. The members of the police force often claim that they have equal rights and privilege similar to other citizens in addition to their duties and responsibilities. Apparently, there is a clear split between two poles – on the one hand each citizen or criminal, whose rights must be respected and protected, and on the other hand the police officers who have no rights, responsibility only. This partisan may prompt another debate on whether the police officers have less or more rights and obligations then the rest of the citizens. But it is totally incorrect that police officers have obligations only but no rights. Police are also citizen entitled to the same rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship (Bruce & Neild 2005). They are also protected by the same human rights standards (Feiner, 2009). If police are expected to defend democracy and human rights, they should not be denied basic democratic and basic rights (Marks & Fleming, 2006). The rights of police officers are constrained by regional, national, and international regulatory frameworks (Marks and Fleming 2006). Sometimes their rights are reduced to such a level that they do not have many basic rights as a citizen in many countries.
In Bangladesh, the rights of police officers also seem to be ill-understood and neglected on both intellectual and state level. The prolonged struggle of the police officers for the realization of the rights is not well-documented either in the academic or popular literature. The existing literature, human rights publications and the media while discussing about democratic policing often refer to the police accountability, civilianization of policing, policing outcomes and performance measurement, and community participation and partnerships but they hardly mention about the human rights of the police officers like other citizens of the country. As a result, the rights of police officers are subject to a wide range of violations in and outside the organization. The widespread violation of police rights varies from economic and social rights to civil and political rights, from individual level to collective level. This study attempted to investigate the economic and social rights violations of the police officers by narrowing down its focus only on the working environment they operate. The studies approached to examine the police work phenomena from human rights perspective where most of the studies described it from physiological, psychological and organizational perspective.
The primary objective of this research is to depict a real picture of human rights situation of the crime fighters within the organization, to investigate its possible causes and impact on the police individual and society as a whole. The secondary aims include directives for future research into police rights discourse for academician, and to recommend ways to improve human rights situation of the police officers which might help strengthen ongoing Police Reform Program in Bangladesh. I firmly believe that the outcome of the research can contribute to the policy makers of the government and non-government organizations in resolving the human rights abuses in and outside the police organization.
Having both the human rights and police background, I perceived I would be the right person that would be able to precisely elucidate the complexity and peculiarity of human rights situation of the police workplace in Bangladesh. Police in Bangladesh are frequently accused of human rights abuse by the national and international human rights organizations (see Amnesty International, 2000, Odhikar, 2009). A number of studies can be done to answer ‘why do police violate human rights’. But being an insider, I understand well where the tension between policing and human rights and between the ethics and the practice of policing lies. Nearly five year’s field level experience with the organization as a mid-level police supervisor has given me an impression that the overall environment where they operate is not congenial to human rights friendly atmosphere both for the general people and the police members. A big share or contribution to the adverse environment is made by the stressful job itself and different kinds of organizational factors. The factors outside the organizations also have a significant role in creating human rights unfriendly environment. Some of the abuses by the police are taking place for personal gain of the individual police members whereas some are the result of imposed burden which they are unable to resist. Resource constraints and staff shortage that put physical, psychological and organization pressure often compel them to exhibit deviance behavior. In addition, deprivation of several basic rights as a consequence of poor working conditions and low wages creates deep frustration and depression among them resulting in strong job dissatisfaction. When all these internal factors combine with other factors, it is very likely that the police officers show up with extreme police deviance behavior having serious impacts on human rights. Unfortunately, no shed of light fell on the fragile and poor working conditions of the police in Bangladesh so far. It is also harder for them to talk to the media, and claim their rights in the same way as the workers in the private sector do through demonstration or strike. As a result, their inhumane sufferings remain beyond the reach of media, human rights activists and general public. In 2005, government introduced police reform programmes assisted by UNDP, DFID and other international donors. The local newspaper being influenced by the programme, sometimes published reports on the organizational problem of the police discretely. However, I did not find any systematic academic researches that have been carried out on the economic and social rights of the Bangladesh police in relation to their workplace.
The police struggle for their rights across the globe has been long and old. While police officers in Bangladesh are barred from being qualified as worker in the labor law, the police in Australia, Europe, North America and New Zealand are now fully entitled to have equal citizenship rights including economic and social rights (Finnane, 2001). In Europe, British Police stood up to establish their industrial and social rights through police strikes in London and Liverpool in 1918-9 and succeeded to ensure their industrial and social rights many decades ago. Following the British example, the adventurous police unions’ activities in New Zealand forced the government to mandate police unions and associations during 1919 ( Finnane 2001). There are also a number of instances of force revolt in the history of Bangladesh such as BDR mutiny in 2009. In 1993, subordinate police officers of Dhaka Metropoliton police at the Rajarbagh Police Lines in Dhaka agitated demanding better working conditions and increased pay (ICG, 2009). Fortunately, it ended up without any bloodshed and increased salaries but many officers got sacked. In 2009, the paramilitary force Bangladesh Rifles which is also regulated by the same ministry, led a murderous uprising in response to poor working conditionss and low pay leaving more than 75 people dead (ICG 2009).
Realization of all the human rights including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights is nearly impossible without social order (Crashaw 2002). Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enables everyone to be entitled to the right to social and international order.Â It is the police force whose fundamental function is to maintain social order by keeping criminality and social tension or civil unrest at tolerable level through effective policing. The dream of complete policing defined as effective, lawful and humane-would remain a dream only until and unless the police agencies are well managed and well resourced by the respective governments. Only through the promulgation of police code of conduct and ethics, human rights training, monitoring and oversight mechanism will help a little to improve the overall human rights records and performance of the police unless their basic rights remain unheard, unmet and fulfilled. Human rights of more than 150 million people of Bangladesh will also be at risk if police with its limited resources and poor working conditionss fails to maintain social order and stability.
The real working experiences of one and a half dozen of police officers are explored and analyzed using data obtained from their narratives conversational interviews. With direct reference to the existing available literature, it is attempted to demonstrate that the police members in Bangladesh have also been subject to the violation of economic and social rights in the workplace. But the human rights advocates ignore the close connection between internal and external violation i.e. human rights violation of the police and human rights abuse by the police. As a result, it has been a common practice among the human rights organizations, media and academician to criticize the police-subculture, corruption and lack of human rights training responsible for human rights violation by them. The sufferings and miseries of the police hardly managed to draw attention of the human rights organizations or the academician. The human rights organizations usually end up their duties by suggesting human rights training and monitoring mechanism to stop human rights abuses and corruption of the police. Despite the necessity of the human rights training and oversight mechanism, all these efforts may be proved meaningless for them if they do not see the application of those human rights in their practical lives.
Chapter One: This chapter presents the background describing my personal view and motivations including primary and secondary objectives.
Chapter Two: This chapter briefly describes the study population and the subject area including statistical numbers, facts and figures.
Chapter Three: This chapter gives a theoretical and conceptual background of the topic based on existing literature and other secondary source of data.
Chapter four: This chapter of methodology and method gives a full description of participant selection, interview process, ethical issues and the challenges to recruitment.Â
Chapter Five: This chapter explains how data is examined and analyzed to develop the themes expressed by the participants.
Chapter Six: In this chapter, Findings are discussed and reviewed with the objectives. This chapter also discusses the implications and limitations of the thesis.
This chapter gives an overall idea on the topic and describes the genesis of the research topic. Personal motivation for undertaking this project and the relevance of the research has also been discussed. It also gives an overview of the research and the chapter outlines. The following chapter discusses about the population under study and the subject area highlighting various aspects of the organization.
Bangladesh Police is a national organization with headquarter based in Dhaka. It is answerable to the acting government which controls and oversees the organization under the administrative control by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA). The organization consists of a number of branches and units that mainly include Range and Metropolitan police, traffic, an armed police battalion(APBN), a criminal investigation department (CID), special branch (SB), Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and training institutions (Shahjahan, 2000). The ‘Range’ and ‘Metropolitan’ police are again subdivided into districts, circles, police stations and outposts (Shahjahan 2000, ICG 2009). Bangladesh has a total of 123197 police officers for its over 153 million population (ICG 2009). It means there is only one police officer for more than 1,200 people in Bangladesh. This ratio is probably the lowest ratio among the other South Asian nations, and nearly three times lower than the recommended ratio of 1:450 by the UN (ICG 2009, Appendix C). In some areas for example in Sylhet and Coxbazar district of the country the ratios are 1:3500 and 1: 2000 respectively (ICG 2009).
The total force with eighteen ranks can be categorized into gazetted (ASP to IGP) and non-gazetted ranks (Constable to Inspector) which is roughly analogous to commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the military. Subordinate officers with numbers 121,659 have overwhelming majority over the gazetted officers numbering 1538 only (ICG 2009: 8). The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Assistant Inspector Generals(AIG) or superintendents of police (SP) and Assistant Superintendent of Police constitute the four gazetted ranks while subordinate ranks include the positions of inspector, sub-inspector, sergeant, and assistant sub-inspector, head constables both armed and unarmed, naiks and constables (ICG 2009:30). Out of 121659 subordinate officers, constables are bulk forces having a figure roughly 88,000. The total number of women police is also very low standing at 1,937 i.e. roughly 1.5 percent in compared to that of other low income countries having 8.5 per cent policewomen (ICG 2009: 9).
In recent years, both the print and electronic media of the country also revealed many facts and figures about the working conditions of the police in Bangladesh. Karzon (2006) in a newspaper article stated that the police in Bangladesh are confronted with many kinds of problem that ranges from weak infrastructure to poor working conditions.Although Bangladesh got independence in 1947 from British rule and got separated from Pakistan in 1971, it has failed to rebuild its police force. The country still retains a colonial system of policing with little change that it inherited from its colonial master ( Karzon, 2006; ). The subsequent governments kept century-old police laws such as the Police Act of 1861; the Evidence Act of 1872; the Criminal Procedure Code of Police of 1898; and Police Regulation of Bengal of 1943 that were primarily devised to deter anti-British movements (Shahjahan, 2000; Karzon, 2006). Many provisions of the outdated laws have flaws and gaps that are inconsistent with the human rights spirits, rule of law and modern democracy (Karzon, 2006; ICG 2009).
Police in Bangladesh particularly the subordinate ranks lead a very difficult and unrewarding life because of deplorable working conditions, abysmal salaries, excessive workload, corrupt and politicized transfer and promotion system (ICG 2009; ). In terms of salary, the top-most police boss draws a monthly salary of Taka 23 000 ($333) while the lowest salary of the organization amounts to Taka 3000 which is just $1.30 a day which is approximately equal to the international poverty line of $1.25 per day (see appendix B). The working hours of the police members are almost double than that of other government employees (Karzon, 2006). It is also reported that they do not have adequate logistic support such as vehicles, prison vans, radios, fuel for vehicles, bicycles, modern weapons and even stationery to write reports (Karzon, 2006; ICG, 2009). Vacation, public holidays, annual and other leaves are rare and unheard and all these problems remain a great source of frustration and low morale for the officers (ICG, 2009). The annual budget of $420-million in addition to the resource constrains and staff shortage is simply unable to meet the organizational needs. In a report, another national daily revealed that 99 percent of the policemen blame the poor working conditions and lack of logistic support as major factors that prevent them from performing their duties (The Daily Star, 2007).Â It commented that the police members in Bangladesh will continue to lead in human life until and unless salaries are increased, daily work hours are reduced to an acceptable level and all operational costs are met by the government. Referring to Paolo del Mistro, a Police specialist of the UNDP, a newspaper stated, “the police in Bangladesh are leading unsatisfactory life and they do not enjoy their policing job as it often destroys their self-respect. Moreover, they are not well-equipped” (cited in Azad, 2007).Â Â He blamed the system not the police department for the grim working and living conditions. A civil society member in a seminar also stressed the need for increasing the salary and allowances for the police so that the police members change their mindset (The Independent, Bangladesh, 2008). In a round table discussion, another civil society member of the country went further and suggested that police officers with low salaries should be allowed to do other jobs so that they can compensate for the poor pay. He asserted, “They can not do that as long as their time of duty is not definite” (The Daily Star, August 12, 2007).
The police in Bangladesh have a bad reputation for their alleged involvement with corruption and brutality (ICG, 2009). According to Transparency International Bangladesh report, 96.6 per cent of Bangladesh’s households experienced some form of corruption that came across with law enforcement agencies (TIB, 2007). Police organization in Bangladesh had been identified as the most corrupt agency among all the government agency (karzon, 2006). A leading national daily of the country in its editorial wrote that the poor working conditions obstruct police to become servant of the people (The daily prothom alo, 2007). It recommended increasing the number of police personnel, vehicle and remuneration of police in addition to improving the poor working condition.
This chapter reviews the existing literature and other secondary sources of data that are related to the economic and social rights of police. The complex nature of the issue has been organized into various sections giving different aspects including the causes and consequences if remain unrealized.
The concept of human rights of police does not imply a new thought or idea. Rather these are the same rights and benefits to which every citizen is entitled. Referring to police rights, Bruce and Neild asserted: "the facts that police are citizens, means they are entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship" (2005:41). Therefore human rights of police include all the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights (Feiner, 2009; Aitchison, 2004). The rights of police officers are also protected by the same human rights standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the various regional and international human rights charters such as International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural rights, and European Convention on Human Rights (United Nations 1948; United Nations 1976; ECHR 1950). The economic and social rights of police are also clearly stated and standardized in the European Social Charter 1961 and the European Code of Police Ethics 2001 (ESC 1961; ECPE 2001). Both the charter provides a set ofÂ standards for police officers including reasonable working hours, rest periods and paid holidays, remuneration enabling them to have a decent standard of living, increased overtime payment, health and safety regulations in the workplace and a system of social security considering their special nature and character of work. Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 6 of the European Social Charter 1961 recognize the right of the police members to form and join trade unions.Â
International Labour Organization as a specialized international agency of the United Nations set some international labor standards and fundamental rights at work in its various conventions (ILO 1998). It sets standards determining hours of work, shift work, holidays, vacations, wages, social security and policy, accommodation, trade union, collective bargaining, rest and leisure for the workers to promote strong social policies, justice and democratic institutions. The benefits of the work standards set by ILO are equally applicable to the members of police in their work place. But it is important to make clear that the police officers can claim the rights against the state not other citizens. The failure of the state to protect the rights does not give legitimacy to police to resort to violations of human rights of general people or citizens.
Police like other employees of the state are the public servants that serve state interest. As an employee or worker, the human rights of a police officer mainly revolve around the economic and social rights that mainly fall into the following categories: labour rights and the right to adequate standard of living, right to food, right to health, right to housing and right to education (Nel & Bezuidenbout, 1997:97). The bulk labour rights include the right to trade union, right to organized and collective bargaining, right to rest and leisure, right to no forced labour, right to work and equal pay for equal work. Bruce and Neild also argued that central to recognizing police as citizens revolve around their right to decent conditions of service, the right to form employee representative organizations, and the right to engage in collective bargaining (2005:43).
There is a close link “between organizational police democracy and societal democracy” where citizens are able to participate in decision-making processes and where basic human rights are protected (Marks & Fleming, 2006:179). It means police are likely to respond more democratically and humanly if they also experience the benefits of democratic labor and social rights in their organizational set up (Berkley 1969, 46-51). Hence the right of police officers to engage in direct and indirect forms of democratic participation is crucial to rights based awareness. Police rights movement through democratic police union is also consistent with the advancement of democracy and good governance (Finnane, 2002; Prasad & Snel, 2004). Police rights movement is now viewed as a countervailing force and broadcasting agendas for social change directed to establish racial justice, gender equality, and urban change (Berkley, 1969; Johnston, 2000; Robinson, 2000; Sklansky, 2005b; O’Malley & Hutchinson, 2005). Police union can be seen as a bulk force for them because through the exercise of this right they might get the recognition of other economic and social rights in the workplace. In addition, police democracy brings not only the democratic benefit for them, rather through democratic police rights movement through police union can serve as a necessary internal check against bureaucratic usurpation within the organization (Gammage & Stanley, 1972; Fleming & Lewis, 2002:92). Despite all the benefits and importance of police trade union as core labor rights of ILO, it creates more controversy and brings criticism from academics, police managers and public than any other labour union. Police organization that allows police union is branded as ‘obdurate organization’ by the police scholars as the union engages only on their own vested interests such as workplace improvement and status enhancement rather than social justice features (Fogelson, 1977; O’Malley, 2005b; Reiner, 1978). The critics argued that this narrowness or ‘bureaucratic conservatism’ of police union may thwart democratic aspirations within trade union structures (Hyman, 2000; Prasad et al 2004; Burgmann & Burgmann, 1998:63).
A significant change is occurring in the police organizations across the world through the ‘privatization, civilianization, and responsibilization of policing’ (Marks & Fleming, 2006: 193). International Labour Organization recognizes all the employment rights of the police officers except few restrictions for the emergency services (ILO 2004). But in a recent move, the ILO develops codes of practice to promote social dialogue within the public service including emergency service too. In a joint meeting on public emergency service (such as police) in 2003, The ILO adopted a document "Guidelines on Social Dialogue for Public Emergency Services in a Changing Environment" to promote fundamental labor rights such as the right to form and join trade union,Â and collective bargaining. Thus these guidelines of ILO give an indication to its member states to allow the police to unionize and to bargain (ILO 2003a). The international network of police unions has also been attempted to persuade the ILO to review its conventions (Mark & Fleming, 2006).Â They quoted Shizue Tomoda, an ILO technical specialist, as saying, “As long as a large number of member states feel that it is proper for police labor rights to be regulated by national laws, the ILO Secretariat can do little to change the status quo.”(p.189). In parallel with ILO prescription, many nations have promulgated special legislations that enable police officers to be entitled to all the citizenship rights including police union for instance, Police Officers Bill of Rights of USA; the European Social Charter and European Code of Police Ethics in Europe.
The modern policing are now centered on the principle of more democracy, more accountability, more equitability, and more professionalism. Police organization within public sector is now defined as growing labor-intensive industry that enables police to be qualified as ‘worker’ having all the labour rights (Mark & Fleming, 2006). Hence, being a member of a labor-intensive industry, they are also equally concerned about the working conditionss and wages (Wellington & Winter, 1969; Reiner, 1978).The current global socio-economic climate leads police unions and public sector unions to work more closely with the labour movement in terms of their rights to collective bargaining (Reiner, 1978). EUROCOP, an association of twenty-seven member police organizations across Europe, is also promoting fairness and equal opportunities in the police service of its member organizations (Marks & Fleming 2006).Â Berkley (1969:46-51) also mentioned about the highly developed police unions across the Europe such as in Germany, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Griffin (2001), Chief executive officer of the Canadian Professional Police Association noted that the police representatives in Canada are now a part of broad labor union body (Fleming & Lewis, 2002). In the United States, Police unions go beyond the narrow interest of the police members promoting the public interests agenda consistent with community preferences in partnership with other police union partner (Magenau & Hunt, 1996).Â The police federation of Australia is also affiliated and aligned with the national trade union federation (Marks & Fleming, 2006). Some unions of Australia (for example, the Northern Territory Police Association NTPA) are now playing a very significant and central role to solve the resource problem of the aboriginal territory. In South Africa, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) established in 1989 is also affiliated to the progressive trade union federation committed to democratic governance. They defend the socio-economic interests of the communities which is now well-recognized by the international human rights organizations (Marks & Fleming, 2004). Police in Lesotho, Zambia, and Botswana who were denied the police rights, called upon the South African police union, POPCRU, to assist them in convincing police authorities and managers about the benefits of police unionization (Hopkins, 2004).
A number of books, reviews of literature and public seminars on the study of the stressful nature of work indicate the growing interest in the field over the past 45 years across the world including America, Britain, Australia and New Zealand (Hurrell, Nelson, & Simmons , Buunk & de Wolff, 1992; Fried, 1993; Huddleston, 2002). One of the main reasons behind the interest is work-related stress causes huge human and monetary cost (Schuler & Van Sell, 1981; Cooper & Marshall, 1976; Levi, 1981; Moss, 1981 cited in Parker & DeCotiis, 1983). The recent years have also witnessed ‘a sizeable body of literature’ that examines police stress from a variety of perspective (Webb & Smith, 1980:251). This study will look into the police stress from human rights approach taking its physiological, psychological and organizational consequences into account. Even though a certain levels of stress are found in almost all occupations, police work has long been termed as a high stress, high strain and ‘critical’ profession (Anshel, 2000, Brown & Campbell, 1994; Horn, 1991; Kroes, 1976; Kroes & Hurrell, 1975; Raiser, 1974; Reilly & DiAngelo, 1990; Violanti & Marshall, 1983, Paton 1996a). They are usually the first to reach and the last to leave the scenes of murder, suicides or accidents. One police psychologist stated: “It is an accepted fact that a police officer is under stress and pressure unequaled by any other profession” (cited in Webb & Smith 1980:255). They are frequently confronted with very sad and violent categories of incidents (Carlier, 1999, Carlier & Gersons, 1992) and ‘hidden victims’ of work-related psychological trauma (Paton, 1989, 1994b).
Apart from the aforementioned intrinsic job stress, the police stressors may range from critical staff shortage to interaction in and outside the organization. Police stressors within the organization may be characterized as excessive workload, staff shortage, work interfering with family, poor or inadequate equipment or resources, seeing criminals go free and inadequate pay, uncivil interaction with co-workers and administrative hassles (Collins & Gibbs, 2003; Davey, Obst, & Sheehan, 2001; Morash, Haarr, & Kwak, 2006; Pasillas, Follette, & Perumean-Chaney, 2006, Huddleston 2002). Rigid organizational structure, shift work, excessive overtime, lack of opportunities for the advancement, workplace discrimination or harassment, administrative pressure to solve the problem, and conflicts over role and responsibility, job transfer, daily hassles, work-related disastersÂ can also cause serious police stress (Collins & Gibbs, 2003; Brown & Campbell 1994; Sewell 1993; Pratt & Barling, 1988). A police officer without the support of his or her family or friend and personal skills is more vulnerable to police stressors (Dewe & Guest, 1990; Latach & Havlovic, 1992; Thompson, Kirk, & Brown, 2005; Violanti et al., 1985; Kirschman, 2006; Reese & Scrivner, 1994). Death or serious injury of a fellow officer in the line of a duty is also a great source of stress for officers (Finn & Tomz, 1997; Gershon, Lin, & Li, 2002; Jermier, Gaines, & McIntosh, 1989; Violanti & Aron, 1994). Negative interaction with the society such as uncivil, discourteous, and disrespectful behaviors, dealing with hostile suspects, offenders, fighting terrorism, and public and official pressure to deal with crimes may also be defined as social stressors for the police (Cortina, Magley, Williams, & Langhout, 2001; Sigler & Wilson, 1988; Garcia, Nesbary, & Gu, 2004; Dowling, Moynihan, Genet, & Lewis, 2006; Paton & Smith, 1996).
It is difficult to describe the content, process, and consequences of police stress with a single generalized stress theory due to the lack of conceptual clarity on the meaning of stress (Parker & DeCotiis 1983:161). Like the two other words “success” and “happiness,” “stress” has differing meanings for different people, and has led to confusion (Web and Smith, 1980: 251). While some researchers label stress a physiological dysfunction (Ivancevich & Matteson, 1980a) others define it as a consequence of stress (Schuler, 1980). Some view it with one-dimensional phenomenon whereas others view as multidimensional and variable (Parker & DeCotiis 1983). As a result, Stress has been labeled as the ‘most imprecise term in the scientific dictionary’ (Ivancevich and Matteson, 1980a:5).Â Â As a result, it is often attempted to explain the work-related stress phenomenon with the help of modified concept (for instance Parker model of job stress, 1983 and Levi’s model, 1972). The study will look into the biological, perceptual and workplace theories to describe the occupational police stress phenomena in their workplace.
Hans Seyle, the originator of biological theory, defined stress as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it” (1973:692).Â He stated that the body prepares itself to fight or flight through the production of hormones resulting in heartbeat, perspiration as soon as the body recognizes any stressors such as heat, cold, mental shock, disease or any other stimuli. If the body can not resist the stressors, stress continues and can exhaust the body’s energy, and slow down bodily functions. If the exhaustion prevails over a longer period of time, the body is exposed to many ailments such as cardiovascular disease (Theorell & Karasek, 1996), a weakened immune system (Anderson, Litzenberger & Plecas, 2002), musculoskeletal diseases (Bongers, de Winter, Kompier, & Hildebrandt, 1993), and gastrointestinal illness (Cristensen, 1995). The internal and external police stress causes different kind of health problems to police population such as cardiovascular and depression (Brown & Campbell, 1994; Collins & Gibbs, 2003; Franke, Ramsey, & Shelly, 2002; Franke, Cox, Schultz, & Franke, 1997; Kirschman 2006) .On the contrary to Selye’s belief, stress response is seen primarily psychological and emotional (Webb & Smith, 1980) such as depression (Schonfeld, 1992, Lazaraus, 1977), job dissatisfaction (Matteson & Ivancevich, 1983), and burnout ( Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001).Â If the environmental demand exceeds the capability of a person, then emotional stress is perceived by an individual (McGrath, 1976). This theory in some ways complement the P: E Fit model that also define how individual perceptions produce stress responses. The cognitive appraisal determines the quality and intensity of emotional reactions and its resultant behaviour (Smith & Saintfort (1989). Levi’s Theory of job stress postulates that different job factors relating to the working conditionss impose demands on individual. This demand may be perceived as stressful by them resulting in biological, emotional and behavioural responses. The interactive model of Cooper and Marshall (1976) and Parker’s model (1983) look similar to the Levi’s Model. This interactive model defined about six categories of job stressors: stressors intrinsic to the job itself (characteristics and conditions of the job), role in the organization, career development, relationship at work, organizational structure and climate, and extra-organizational stressors (external commitment and responsibilities).
Numerous empirical studies have revealed that high levels of work stress bring negative outcomes at both individual and organizational levels (Cropanzano, Rupp, & Byrne, 2003; Podsakoff, LePine, & LePine, 2007).The level and dimension of the outcomes depends on the intensity of the stress, its duration, the number of operative stressors, and alternatives the individual sees available to him or her (Parker 1983: 165). He stated that if the stressor can be removed without delay, or an individual is capable to cope with it, the feeling of stress is likely to dissipate without resulting in any high level outcome. However, even a short term job stress leads to long lasting second-level outcomes if stress is intense or it continues over a prolonged period (Parker 1983: 165). On individual level, police stress is linked to such deleterious individual outcomes as depression, heart disease, etc (Quick, Quick, Nelson, & Hurrell, 1997). Police stress may also be associated with anti-social behaviour and maladaptive such as drinking, suicide ideation and violence on and off the job (Kohan & O’Connor, 2002; Paton, Violanti, & Schmuckler, 1999; Violanti, Marshall, & Howe, 1985; Violanti, 2004). The routine police stressors resulting from traumatic events and aversive working conditions may cause physiological, psychological, and behavioral problems to its members of the police organizations (Everly & Smith, 1987; Jaffe, 1995; Quick et al., 1997; Violanti, 1981; Violanti, Marshall, & Howe, 1983; Slate, Johnson & Colbert, 2007). Police stress carries huge importance because “the potential negative consequences of it affect society in general more than stress from most other occupational groups” (Grencik, 1975: 172). From the organizational perspective, negative outcomes resulting from police stress can seriously undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies exhibiting poor productivity, decreased organizational commitment, increased absenteeism , decreased job performance, dissatisfaction, voluntary turnover, avoidance behaviour, workplace violence such as aggression and sabotage, increased workers’ compensation claims, and increased sick time (Jex & Crossley, 2005; Cotton & Hart, 2003, Parker, 1983; Matteson & Ivancevich, 1983; Jackson, 1983; Chen & Spector, 1992;Tang & Hammontree, 1992; Huddleston, 2002:4). Hyper-aggression and violence as negative outcomes of police stress can lead to public distrust and erosion of support for law enforcement agencies in general implicating public safety and public health. As a result, Police officers are required special management and close attention to neutralize the negative impacts of organizational stressors (Adams & Buck, 2010; Bakker & Heuven, 2006; van Gelderen , Heuven, van Veldhoven, Zeelenberg, & Croon, 2007).Â
In the previous chapter, the existing literature related to the economic and social rights of police was discussed from various perspectives. Most of the literature focused on the organizational stress that leads to the violation of economic and social rights of the members of police. The chapter also discussed the negative impact of the stressors from physiological, psychological and organizational perspective. In this chapter, I approach to discuss the qualitative descriptive methodology that adopts thematic analysis as the method of data analysis.
A qualitative descriptive method has been adopted aiming to provide a critical investigation of police workplace where the violations of their various economic and social rights are taking place.Â The description of their experience in the workplace will lead to the discovery of truth because narrative data that incorporates the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of experience, as well as the ‘whats’ ( Sarbin , 1986). The qualitative technique is not concerned with discovering ‘how many people think on a particular issue’ rather the aim is to find how people think of the issue and how they react to the issue. Quantitative approach for this study may not be able to provide such insights as the respondents are reluctant to give a clear cut answer when they are asked about their organizational problems due to rigid organizational structure and sensitive nature of police work. Narrative data was produced through unstructured techniques that allowed the narrator to produce more detailed and authentic account of experiences from their lives (Riessman, 1993). It can also produce emancipatory outcomes for a particular marginalized group. (Parker, 2005).
The study will be looking at the work-lives of human service employees. Research on human service organization is important because effective research might reveal concealed organizational dilemmas that allow authority to contemplate the most appropriate actions for operational improvement. The findings promote and provide a vehicle for effective change and intervention through introspective analysis and internal diagnosis. Weisenbord also stated, “Behind every intervention lurks a diagnosis” (1978:6).
Eligible respondents were the police officers irrespective of different ranks serving in the various police units of Bangladesh. As an insider of the organization, I have prior knowledge about the structure and operational units of the organization. With a view to producing the real truth about their economic and social rights of the police members, I did consider to interview a cross section of police officers covering all the operational units to produce more effective data rather than focusing only on a specific police district or metropolitan unit. The respondents were geographically dispersed across the country as I covered all the branches of the organization. I was assisted by some police officers who were previously known to me in order to get access to the respondents. They took the primary consent of the respondents, and then sent me the respondent’s telephone or mobile numbers.
The number of respondents was mainly guided by the principle of ‘theoretical data saturation (Strauss and Corbin 1990:188, Kumar, 2005:165) and sample size varies between 5 -50 (Streubert, 2003). Sampling was continued until data saturation occurs. Fifteen persons were purposively sampled and interviewed upon giving maximum opportunity of eliciting data (Strauss and Corbin 1990). Since true data saturation is a myth and depends on the number of texts and their complexity, as well as on investigator experience and fatigue (Morse, 1989; Ryan & Bernard, 2003), but I assumed myself to have reached data saturation point after new information had stopped to come.Â Unlike probability sampling that concerns with proportion, this study put more emphasis on the opinions of the targeted population. The advantage of purposive sampling is that it gave me opportunity to use my judgment and prior knowledge to choose respondents (Bailey, 1987: 94). In addition, Purposive sampling was aimed at providing best information to achieve the study objectives (Kumar, 2005).
Although face-to-face interview is considered as the most productive mode for producing narrative data but Holt (2010) argued that telephone interviews can also produce more detailed and authentic accounts of people’s experiences. Telephone interview is assumed to be a productive and valid methodological tool by many researchers for interviewing the respondents holding ‘a position of power’ in the society called ‘elite participent’ (Stephen, 2007:205). I also found narrative telephone interview technique convenient for conducting interviews of those respondents in the restricted organization like police. Besides, the use of telephone for narrative interviews tends to be a more practical option for more geographically dispersed participants. (Holt, 2010:114). Since almost the respondents have public and private mobiles, they were easily accessible over telephone even though the respondents were scattered across the country.Â It has another advantage of cost and speed also remained as potential advantage over personal interviews. Face-to face interview was unlikely to serve the purpose of extracting optimum data. Because the respondents could have felt hesitation and fear to answer the sensitive question just sitting in front of me as an insider of the organization. Telephone interview gave me an advantage of putting complex and sensitive questions over telephone and to probe, skip and change questions if irrelevant. For the particular type of respondents like police who lives a busy and chaotic professional and personal life, telephone interviewing provides more flexibility than face-to-face interview. While interviewing, many respondents had to intersperse the conversations with comments such as “oh, sorry, my Boss is just calling me, I’m to cut the line…” The use of telephone also gave kind of control over the privacy of the conversation. They were able to move freely during the interview when either a family member or any third person came in. Telephone interview provides more flexibility and causes no embarrassment in re-arranging the appointment if needed (Holt).
I was influenced by Holt (2010) to use computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) technique. Data was digitally recorded on personal computer by using two different Audio recording software named ‘Sound Tap Streaming Audio Recorder’ and ‘Polder bits Call Recorder’. CATI technique gave me a certain amount of flexibility ranging from the recording to transcribing. Since conversations were digitally recorded to the PC instantaneously, I was able to focus my full attention to the responses and the appropriate question to be asked next. Besides, the computer screen displays the list of issues providing extra advantage to keep sequence of the list of issues.Â The quality of recoded conversation was much better than tape recorder. Telephone interview gave them more flexibility and relaxation than face to face interview as the interview was conducted in a friendly two way discussion so that the respondents feel encouraged to reveal everything he knows on the topic under investigated The interview was informal unstructured in nature meaning that it was guided by a pre-defined list of issues rather than controlled by a specific set of detailed questions.
I had to write down the main issues and findings in my field notes while conducting the interviews. Soon after each interview, field notes were upgraded and refined through repetitions to supplement the raw interview data (Halcomb & Davidson, 2005).Â In the field notes, I actually translated my feelings and impressions about each interview.The field notes include a description of the setting and interactions which were not recorded but felt to be potentially relevant to the research topic. The final transcript was the result of many rough transcriptions that skipped many unclear words. Each transcription was made verbatim from the interview. I repeated the process both the listening and reading the transcript concurrently with a view to filling the gaps (Rapley, 2007 & Silverman, 1998).
The next process I preceded was to identify the themes from the transcripts. Since I was dealing a small amount of interview data, I did not consider qualitative data software (CAQDAS). I found manual analysis comfortable due to lack of experience with CAQDAS. Webb (1999) also asserted that manual analysis of data is preferred for the beginners as qualitative researchers. I then started pawing through texts and marking them up with different colored highlighter pens. Bogdan and Biklen (1982:165) suggest reading over the text at least twice. The text are then separated and sorted out under specific theme.
During data collection, I faced a number of challenges that influence the validity and reliability of the data and the research results. First of all, selection of the participants posed a big challenge for me as I intended to cover all the main branches and operational units of the organization irrespective of their ranks and file. Bangladesh police is a vast and mother organization comprising seven main branches and eighteen ranks. Second, winning consent of the many respondents for interviews was really difficult and more challenging as they fear about organizational consequences. I had to win their trust and confidence before they agreed to give their consent for the interview. I disclosed my full identity and succeeded to build up trust in them. However, some of them withdrew themselves in the middle of the interview as soon as they were asked sensitive questions. Finally, I was having difficulties to find out a suitable time for the interviewees. Many of them managed time during the duty hours only. As a result, our conversations were interrupted several times. In many cases, we had to change our schedules for other days. Five hours time difference from the local Bangladesh time also gave me a lot of trouble.
Respondent’s right remains at central when ethical issues are concerned. Creswell also (2003:62) stated that, “In addition to conceptualizing the writing process for a proposal, researchers need to anticipate the ethical issues that may arise during their studies”. The purpose of the study was clearly communicated to all respondents before the interview. The respondents were clearly asked whether they would like to give interviews for the study. Because seeking informed consent is “probably the most common method in medical and social research (Bailey, 1978:384). As the issue under study was both sensitive and controversial in terms of political and social context (McCosker et al, 2001), the respondents did not want to disclose their identity so that they could be easily traced. However, the respondents did not have any reservation about the disclosure of sensitive information. After getting their final consent, we fixed a time and date for the interview. Proper steps were taken to guaranty the anonymity of the respondents. I kept a track record of the participants giving each participant an individual identification numbers.Â Ong & Weiss (2000) hypothesized that the condition of anonymity will reveal more sensitive and true information when respondents are promised anonymity. Apparently, this approach made the respondents feel comfortable and confident to provide sensitive but true information. It surely enhanced the validity of the responses (American Psychological Association, 1996)
In quantitative research, the terms validity, reliability and triangulation are used to evaluate the worth of a study. But the terms do not have the same meaning in the qualitative research with respect to establishing truth. In quantitative study, validity is meant ‘the determination of whether a measurement instrument actually measures what it is purported to measure’ (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber 1998: 561), or ‘the degree to which an instrument measures what it is intended to measure’ (Polit & Hungler 1995: 656). In quantitative paradigm, an account is considered as valid or true if it fairly and accurately represents those features of phenomena that it is purported to describe, explain or theorize (Hammersley 1992:69). The quality is judged by the terms validity and reliability (Healy and Perry (2000). On the other hand, the terms Credibility, Neutrality or Confirmability, Consistency or Dependability and Applicability or Transferability are the essential criteria for quality in qualitative paradigms (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).
I made an explicit attempt to ensure the validity and reliability of the study in several ways. From the respondent selection process to the data collection and analysis process, I was very much careful and honest. This research study was designed in such a way that offered an opportunity to the respondents to verify the transcript.Â Field notes made during and after each interview also help verify whether the transcripts vary from the original meaning. As an insider, I was very much familiar with the organizational terms that the respondents used. Therefore there was little possibility of misinterpretation to happen. In addition, the conversation was made in the same language that we (the respondent and interviewer) belong to. As a result, both of us were clear about what was asked and what was delivered. The people familiar with this field will recognize the meaningfulness of the study and the trustworthiness of the process perceiving this as a credible piece of work.
In this chapter, I am going to address the research findings and provide interpretation with respect to the research questions. It seems to me it would be more efficient and effective to address the questions together as the analysis of data is overlapped and interlinked.
There are certain ‘givens’ in the police work such as shift work, long hours, petrol duty, family life under public scrutiny which are common among the police members across the world (Kirschman 2006). However, the working conditionss of the police in Bangladesh are so poor and deplorable that it remains far away from the international standard. All the respondents of the study mainly pointed to the working conditions as the main cause of all troubles for them. The working conditionss of the police in Bangladesh are associated with excessive long hours, shift work, unhygienic living conditions, lack of interaction among the officers, absence of holidays and other leaves and so on. The law enforcement officers in the country work extraordinarily long hours. When they were asked about working hours, all the participants responded spoke similarly that all the police officers from highest to the lowest ranks, are considered ‘always on duty’ by the law and may be employed at any time whenever needed. One respondent (unwilling to be identified) who has been in the police service for over 25 years commented “We do not have fixed working hours and are for 24 hours duty. When we joined the police, we gave this commitment. We can not say ‘no’ by law.” But it does not literally mean that police officers perform duties all the day and night. In average, the duty hours do not fall below 15-16 hours a day, and remain almost the same irrespective of the branches/units and ranks of the organization. One respondent posted to a metropolitan police station was narrating about his daily routine duties on the condition of anonymity “Everyday I usually come to the office before 9 in the morning but I can not go home before late night. Next day morning again, I have to be present in the office before 9 am. This is how I have been doing my job since I joined this police station 9 months ago.”Â When asked “is it unique feature with the police station?” He confidently said “the situation in other police stations does not differ that much… I served in many other units of the police; the situation is more or less the same.” The condition of the high ranking police officers is no different than that of lower ranking officers. One of the respondents being a high ranking police officer (unwilling to be unidentified) was describing the situation, “…..honestly speaking, the high ranked officers have more duty hours than the low ranked officers as they remain between the government and the force members.” He added more “…police officers are asked to work more after finishing his 16-18 hours of duty due to lack of manpower, huge commitment and essential service.” When The Police Act of 1861 was analyzed, many provisions of the act were found contradictory to not only people’s rights but also many fundamental rights of the police members. Article 22 of the police Act states that police officers are considered to be always on duty and can be deployed at any time and at any place. This provision clearly deprives police officer of having fixed workings hours, overtime payment and rest periods. According to the provision 23 of the Act, police officers are also bound to obey and execute the order of the competent authority. Apparently, if they fail to execute the order or refuse to do it, they are subject to different kinds of punishment. But the convention C1(1919) of ‘international labor standards’ of ILOÂ sets a minimum working hours for the workers that should not exceed more than eight hours a day and forty-eight hours a week. The ILO standards strongly oppose Article 9(e) of the convention also prescribes about a weekly rest period to be awarded to all classes of workers (ILO 1919. ILO convention (C 29 1930) clearly prohibits all sorts of forced or compulsory labour in its member countries.Â Article 100, 101, 102, 106, 108 of The labour law of Bangladesh also clearly mention about the fixed working hours, overtime payment, night shift and a rest period showing consistency with the ILO standards.
The organizational myth “twenty four hours duty” makes the police officers unable to have overtime allowance. On the question of overtime allowance, one respondent precisely said, “As the police are on always duty so the issue of overtime payment is meaningless”. Police render services without overtime allowance or any of the same kind. They just receive risk allowance amounting TK 300-500 (equivalent to 2-3 dollars) per month. One of the respondents lamented:
“Even the garments workers get overtime allowance whatever the amount it is but police officers are refused overtime payment….it could be better if we had.Â Due to long working hours, we hardly get time to have rest as they have to work from morning to midnight. They even hardly manage time to have lunch or dinner timely.”
My experience with the organization gives me an impression that some of the police functions such as traffic control are so crucial that the police officers have to remain alert round the clock. More ironically, there are no rest rooms and toilet facilities for the traffic police that perform duties on the streets. He sometimes uses roadside tea stalls or any other shops as a rest room upon making a request to the owner.Â A traffic police officer described his situation, “when a man being caught in traffic congestion for few minutes, can not tolerate the polluted environment, and becomes impatient but we have to control traffic standing on the polluted streets for hours.”
‘International labor standards’ of ILO (C132 1970; C52, 1936) advocates annual paid holidays for the employees apart from public and customary holidays. Article 103, 104Â of the labour law of the country mentions about the weekly holidays while article 115, 116, 117 and118 of the law describe about casual leave, sick leave, festival leave andÂ annual paid leave for the workers. But excessive workload, staff shortage and emergency nature of the service deprive police officers in Bangladesh of enjoying weekly holidays and other kinds of leave.Â Even though the country has two weekly holidays (Friday and Saturday) but these holidays are nothing different than the other two days of the week for the police officers. One respondent stated, “While the other government employees enjoy their weekend with their family members in the park, we have to ensure their security and safety in the park. I do not remember my family had the opportunity in the last couples of years.” Government-declared special holidays bring special duties and more responsibilities for the police members. On those occasions, police duties are enhanced through the special deployment. As a result, getting holidays on any of the two Eid festivals is rare opportunity for a police officer. Related one respondent: “Holidays on two Eid festivals hardly come to our lives…Usually we get holidays for one festival only…only 20 percent of the total forces get the Eid holidays every year.”
Police officers have little scope to enjoy their stipulated 20 days of Casual Leaves (CL) a year and 15 days of Recreation Leave (RRL) for every 3 years.Â I interviewed dozens of police officers some of whom have been serving in the police department for over 35 years but did not find any one who was able to manage at least 10 days of CL and a full RRL in his life time. All the officers noted that they usually have to remain happy with the recreation allowance only. A very few officers avails the opportunity of recreation leave. This perspective was supported by one of the High ranking officials “We usually try our best to give holidays or leaves to the junior officers despite having huge shortage of police manpower and resource constrains…as you know”. In addition he said, “I think, not more than 5 percent of the police forces get the opportunity to enjoy casual leave. About me, I enjoyed 5 out of 20 days’ casual leaves last year. I am sure this kind of experience is common among all police supervisors.”
While the ILO Convention R115advocates adequateÂ and decent housing accommodation for the employees provided by the employer,Â The crisis of government provided accommodation is so severe and acute thatonly a small percentage less of the total officers can get the opportunity to live with their family together. One of the respondents stated:
“Only 2-3 percent police officers get government provided family quarter in the posting place. Maximum police families have to reside either in rented houses nearby posting places or in the villages at their permanent homes. To rent a house in any of the main cities in the country is so expensive compared to our monthly salary. The rest of the salary after rent being paid is quite inadequate and insufficient to maintain family”.
He wondered how many officers keep their family in the rented house with the current salary which he viewed nearly impossible without corruption. Securing a seat in the barracks is not an easy task for a police officer himself. A police member considers him lucky if he or she has a single cot, and has not to share with anybody. But sharing with other fellow colleagues by lining the cots is a common phenomenon.Â A constable living in a barrack house said:
“I along with more 20 others live in a small congested room in a barrack…we have very few cots in that room. So we align them to accommodate more persons …There is no space to walk in between. ..We do not have any compartments to put the clothes. We just hang our clothes on a rope… During the summer, we suffer most… we have four ceiling fans only in our room…”
The living condition in the barrack is also unhygienic. When asked about the hygiene of the barracks, he stated:
“For sixty people in a floor, we have only four toilets and two bathrooms…everyday morning during the office hour we have to compete each other to occupy the toilets and bathrooms…we follow a routine so that we can cope with rush hours…we always try to keep the toilet clean but it is hard…”
But ILO convention C161 prescribes occupational health and safety measures in the working and living places. The Chapter VI and VII of the labour Law of the country thoroughly describe the safety measures and health standards for the workers in the industry. The police officers particularly the subordinate officers in Bangladesh are far away from living a standard of life. The unhygienic condition of the barrack houses, the low take-home salary, limited access to health, the low quality of the food ration appears to be not conducive to lead a standard life on the part of police. A respondent when asked about the standard of living, he stated, “Neither we can give adequate time to our family members nor a standard of living…” After 15-16 hours of hard working when a police officer gets to reach home, he or she must be exhausted. The long work hours and hazardous environment will surely pose a serious threat to his or her health and life. It is a common scene everywhere in Bangladesh that a traffic police performs his duties standing in the middle of a busy street under scorching heat or heavy downpour. One traffic inspector said, “The most handsome and good physique young people usually join police sergeants but their skin gets burnt within few days of joining by loosing original color.”
The Conventions C98, C134, and C135 of ILO enable workers the right to organize and bargain collectively. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (2006) advocate to respect, promote and realize the principle of recognition of collective bargaining rights. Chapter XIII of the Labour law describes the nature and extent of the trade union rights of the worker. Unfortunately, the literal meaning of collective bargaining on the part of Bangladesh police is really absent because the police officers do not have a union to bargain collectively. The subordinate police officers (constable to sub-inspector) are not aware of any existing police association for them while the gazetted police officer (ASP to IGP) mentioned about an association of the high ranking police officers. The Forum of the top rankers sometimes presents their suggestions or recommendation to the government if asked. One respondent stated:
“…Our association is not similar to the labor association or of the same kinds… we can not bargain with the government to fulfill our demands. As a disciplined organization, we can not call for work abstention or demonstrate on the street…we are not allowed though. We place our demands during the meeting with Prime minister on the eve of police week held once a year…It is up to the government to fulfill the demands if it thinks fit.”
On the other hand, the lower ranking officers have a formal meeting with the unit head called ‘welfare parade’ held once in every month in order to discuss their work-related problems. A Subordinate police officer of the Inspector rank said, “We generally discuss our problems in the welfare parade participated by almost all the subordinate officers of the unit concerned…It is like an open session for the officers.” When asked what kind of matters you discuss in the welfare parade he said, “The matter relates to the leave, food rations, accommodation and other problems of the same kinds that can be solved by the unit head within his power and capability. He forwarded the unresolved issue to the higher authority to be solved.” he added further, “truly speaking, we are not comfortable while placing demand before a top ranked officer….sometimes the questions to be asked are pre-formulated by the Reserved Inspector in-charge of the welfare parade.” A respondent of the inspector rank warned against the discrimination between gazetted and non-gazetted police officers in terms of facilities and other matters. He noted: “One of the main reasons behind BDR mutiny in 2009 was discrimination within the force…we never know that would not happen in the police if situation does not change.” Some of the respondents were found critical of the ill treatment and behavior of the superior officers. They pointed to the master-slave relationship between the senior and junior police officers. One responded phrased, “Some of our senior officers treat us like slaves…they sometimes forget that we are human being.” He advocated for a friendly and effective relationship to remove distrust between the junior and senior officers.
One of the major problems of the police officers in Bangladesh is their low wage. The Police officers especially the lower ranking officers have more difficulties to survive with the minimum wages. Their salary is far away from the national and international standard (see appendix B). The monthly salary of a constable is just around 78 dollars ($1.30 per day) nearly equal to the international poverty line ($1.25 a day) (World Bank 2011). They end up with very little monetary return at the end of a month.Â Their salary is also inconsistent with current market prices of daily necessities. Every year the prices of commodities go up but their salary remains fixed. As a result, they have to go through hardship to maintain the family with the salary. A respondent posted in a metropolitan city lamented, “The salary I get is so minimal that I do not dare to get married whereas it is even hard for a single person to survive. I earned less than a rickshaw puller or a garment worker.” One respondent serving as a Deputy Commissioner in a city described the current salary structure as “inadequate to survive, and insufficient to lead an honest life against price hike” She further said “Government is also much aware of the fact. Government is not raising the salary or allowance perhaps due to socio-economic condition of the country …but the salary structure of the police should be reviewed immediately”. ‘International labor standards’ of ILO (C131 1970) advocates to fix a minimum wage by taking into account the general level of wages, the cost of living, social security benefits, the relative living standards of other social groups and other economic factors of the country.Â Article 2(45), 138-142 of The Labour Law of Bangladesh also proposes a minimum and standard remuneration for the employees of the country.
All the respondents spoke similarly over the physiological consequences on them. Due to irregular eating habit and eating in the unhealthy hotels and restaurants while on duty on the street, Gastric disease is epidemic among them. One of the respondents noted: “Gastric problem , heart disease, hepatitis B, diabetics and some kinds of skin diseases are prevalent among the police members.” Of them, traffic police are most vulnerable in terms of health risk. One police sergeant revealed, “I along with other 152 young men joined Chittagong traffic division in 1991. Within few months, 140 of us were infected by hepatitis B. Even though I was not among them but I was suffering from other kinds of disease such as fever and gastric problem”. Many of them expressed their latent intension to quit the job expressing their job dissatisfaction. One of the respondents was nicely quoted: “It is as if I have committed a sin by joining police. I can not quit the job because my family depends on my income. I’m at ‘the point of no return’.” When asked, “Why have you joined the police when it is too bad?” One officer stated: “Before we joined we though we would be financially and socially solvent but the situation is quite far from the expectation.” He expressed concern over the staff turnover saying that quality people will not join police service in Bangladesh if the situation does not improve in near future.
When asked about the police corruption in Bangladesh, another respondent stated: “Even though there are some corrupt people within the organization but most of us hate corruption. Some are compelled to take bribes just to meet mainly the investigation and other operational costs, and his daily necessities. The government supply of resources including vehicle, fuel and other commodities are totally insufficient. ”
On the other hand, the high ranking police officers found that police officers have a distinctive position in the society than many other similar jobs despite its hazardous and fatigue nature. According to them, police officers are honored and adored in the society. They viewed the ration system and serving in a UN peace keeping mission can be seen as a unique opportunity for police officers. No other government employees have this opportunity other than the security forces. But ICG reported that only 3.3% of the total forces only get the opportunity to serve in UN mission where salaries are almost fifteen times than their usual salary (2009).
When asked how then do police maintain social order under such resource constraints and staff shortage, one of the respondents threw a reverse question, “How can we maintain law and order when the number of criminals is more than the police? Even though we can maintain it somehow but many times we failed to keep order. ”
Another respondent described how he manages the operational and other costs:
“In the third week of every month, the fuel allocated for the police station runs out. I depend on the alternative sources other than the police organization. In return, I sometimes have to give him favor. I know its impacts and consequence but what else I can do?”
The respondents have varieties of opinions when asked about their reaction to the resource constraints and deprivation of their rights. Most of the respondents spoke similarly that they try their best to give better service to the people but they can not fully satisfy the people’s demand and expectation due to lack of resources and workload. One clarified, “Is it possible to behave normally with hundreds of people after performing duties for such long hours?”
A respondent predicted a foreseeable future if their calls are not heard and demands are not met. He worded: “the similar conditions led to a bloody rebellion by the BDR members. Police in Bangladesh also revolted in 1993 demanding for better payment and working conditionss. Another such possibility can not be ruled out.”
The previous chapter presented the analysis of data and this chapter provides discussion with respect to research questions and literature review.Â
6.2.1 Legal obstacles: Realization of many of the economic and social rights of the police is obstructed by the national and international legal barriers (Marks & Flemming, 2006). The national legislative framework of a sovereign state includes broad labor law legislation, party political standpoints, social movement environments, and the configuration of police organizations (Marks & Fleming 2006:187). Even though all the respondents referred to the Police Act of 1861 as the main legal barrier to the realization of their economic and social rights, there remain other legal barriers to police rights in the country. The members of police officers in Bangladesh suffer a big blow as they are not qualified as ‘worker’ or ‘labour’ of an industry or factory under the national Labour Law. According to the section 2(65) of the Labour Act, 2006, a person who is employed in any establishment or industry is to be qualified as ‘labour’. It was clearly stated in the section 1 of the Law that the Law will not be applicable to the employees of the government offices including the disciplined forces. Apparently, the loss of employment status as per definition does not entitle the police officers in Bangladesh having many basic labor rights enshrined within the law. But the definition of ‘industry’ implies any business, trade, manufacture, calling, service, employment or occupation’ (The Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969). The development of the community policing movement in the country transforms the idea of ‘police force’ into ‘police service’. Besides, police within public sector in Bangladesh can be seen as a growing ‘industry’ (Marks & Fleming 2006) with 123,197 member staffs and $ 420 million annual turn over (ICG 2009).
The Constitution of Bangladesh (1972) also permits government to put reasonable restrictions to the fundamental rights stated in the chapter III for the sake of public safety and order. According to the Article 45 of the Constitution, any provisions of chapter III related to the basic fundamental rights shall not be applicable to the members of a disciplined force. Unlike the private workers, the police members are not allowed to put their demand publicly through demonstration or strikes.
In addition, the operation of civil service is regulated by the state civil service laws and a range of specific laws distinguishing between ‘general’ and ‘specialized’ civil servants. The activities and functions of the police forces as ‘specialized civil service’ are governed and controlled by the specific laws such as the Police Act 1861 and Police Regulation, Bengal 1943 (PRB). The police officers in Bangladesh hold dual status among the civil servants. It therefore can be argued whether the principles of general rights and obligation, and social benefits applicable to specialized civil servants or not. Unfortunately, the distinctive status deprives the police officers from enjoying a number of basic rights. On the other hand, the section 29 of the Government Servants Rules (1979) permits all government employees to form and join trade union for protecting their professional, social and economic rights except the subordinate police officers from constable to sub-inspectors.
The countries in which police are denied basic labor rights are usually emerging democracies characterized with autocratic rule, corruption, and low level of civic engagement (Marks & Flemming 2006). In Bangladesh, democracy is not very old and is in an early stage of development like many other countries of South Asia. As an emergent democratic country, it has been struggling to follow and establish many of the democratic norms and idioms in its various state organ.
The countries, in which the right of police to bargain collectively is denied, usually make a reference to the ILO’s core labor conventions in order to justify their actions of prohibiting police unions. The debate engenders a high level of conflict too as it is concerned with public security and safety, and public order. The ILO statutes do not approve strikes activity to the police, fire brigade and other public emergency services because of uncertain outcome in advance. The governments of those countries as member states of ILO argue that Convention no. 87 and 98 dealing with the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining respectively are not immediately applicable to the security forces. They also indicated that ILO thus allows its member states to impose restriction on these labor rights in the interest of national security and public interest. In reality, the labor relations and employments rights of the police end up with no labour rights for them as the limitations is exploited and extended to the strict prohibition by the state.Â In this regard, the case of Argentine police members who approached to the ILO for their labour rights against the state can be drawn as a reference. But the committee on freedom of association and of ILO came up with a decision favoring the Argentine government (ILO 2003b, 6)
The complex socio-political condition of the country also hinders change in the overall working environment of the police.Â No government has been willing neither to overhaul the antiquated system of policing nor to repeal or amend the colonial-era legal instruments for police such as the police Act 1861, Criminal Procedure Code 1872 and The Evidence Act, 1872.Â Â Â These laws give broad powers to the government or its agents (the Ministry of Home affairs) to control and regulate the police force. They never want to lose the power over the police but retain it. The poor working conditions and low salaries has turned the police in Bangladesh into a weak, corrupt and politicized force (ICG 2009, Shahjahan, 2000).The weakness of the police may allow the military to have greater control over internal security and civilian police matters. The short history of Bangladesh witnessed so many incidents in the recent past in which police was used for political, and partisan ends. The internal police matters were also politicized through political appointments, transfer and posting instead of merit. The bureaucracy and the business community also provide strong opposition to reform the police working environment. Both of them have a history of exploiting the weakness of the police organization for their vested interests. Well resourced and well paid police organization can make it more difficult for them. The military is also careful about the change and reform within the police force. For instance, the new Police Ordinance 2007 drafted under the sponsorship of UNDP and other development Donor still face stiff opposition from all the above actors to be passed as law.
The socio-economic condition of the country can also be a negative factor that obstructs to reform poor working conditions and abysmal salaries. A high level police officer also referred to the financial ability of the government so that the salary of the police officers can be increased many fold. Nearly forty percent population of the country lives below the international poverty line (Rahman, 2009). But in order to raise the salary to a reasonable amount, government does not need a huge budget to spend.Â According to a senior home ministry official, government will have to spend extra $12 million dollars per year with a view to raising the monthly salary of 88000 constables to $215 (ICG 2009). If the police officers are paid overtime allowance in addition to the operational budget, their grievances could be neutralized to some extent. Recently, government fixed a minimum salary and overtime allowance for the garments workers which police members could also be awarded. Whereas every year government allocates huge budget for the external security, the internal security issue gets assigned little importance by the government.
It is a common practice in Bangladesh to group and lump police together with the military. The formation of the specialized unit Rapid Action Battalion RAB in 2004 makes it difficult to distinguish between police and military as it hires members from all the forces including police, military, navy, air force, BDR Moreover, army personnel are sometimes posted on deportation to the top most positions of many civil forces such as Bangladesh Ansar.Â But a clear distinction should be made between the functions and identity of the police and the military (Waddington, 1999 & Reiner, 1978 cited in Marks and Fleming 2006. One ex-highest ranked officer of Bangladesh police commented: ‘Militarisation of the police would create a“ghetto mentality”, which would divorce the police from the people and reduce accountability” (ICG 2009:7). It is believed that the duties of police have to be performed within the parameters of a disciplined force as they perceive themselves as a highly disciplined force. They believe that demonstration or protest of any kind undermine the tradition and spirit of a disciplined force like police. But the introduction of private and community policing underpins the traditional idea of policing as highly disciplined service.
There exists a sense of discrimination among the lower level of police officers. They feel that they are often discriminated in terms of food rations and other job facilities. Before the 2009, the low level police officers had less food rations than that of higher ups. But just after the BDR mutiny, it was made equivalent to that of high level officers. Still the lower ranking officers object to a ‘master-slave relationship’ and ill-treatment of the superior officers. It is alleged that some senior officers are so rude in terms of behaviour whereas others are reluctant to permit leave.
It is difficult to predict the exact outcomes of organizational stressors on the police individual, organization and social level.The impact may range from physical sufferings to serious behavioral outcomes. The behavioral response of the police individual varies from petty police misconduct to the police brutality that might lead to any form of human rights violations of the citizen of the country.
The different internal organizational stressors within the police department lead not only to the violation of their economic and social rights as discussed in the earlier paragraphs but also to the violation of many of their civil and political rights. For instance, excessive work hours, many shifting duties, absence of weekly holidays and less leave opportunity seriously hamper their right to family life that fall under the category of civil or integrity right. All the respondents spoke similarly that they are unable to give a standard life or minimum time to their family members. Kirschman (2006) also noted that similar organizational stress is likely to be a source of continuous strain for the policemen and their family members. The civil right to privacy is also under threat due to the lack of sufficient arrangement and unhygienic conditions in the barracks (the daily star August 10, 2007). The political rights of the police officers in Bangladesh to join and form association, and the right to join assembly are also violated as they do not have trade union right.
Even though the respondents had a strong intention to quit the police job, nobody was found among them or they know who had quit the job in recent past . The reasons they mentioned is they have reached to a point of no return. There might be other reasons than that one. The police have organizational opportunities to make additions to their salaries through other means what they call “side income” through extortion, bribery and racketeering (ICG 2009). Due to the absence of legal means of income through salary and other benefits, side incomes may become a common and accepted practice among the police members either to meet the operational and investigation costs or financial needs. Many of them might be exploiting this ‘opportunity’ for accumulating money and wealth for their personal gain as indicated by Porter (2005). When take-home salary of a police officer is very low, he will surely be a sure candidate for corruption. Corruption in Bangladesh police is rampant and deep-rooted (Odhikar, 2008).Â Well-remunerated police personnel are less likely to be involved in undesirable activities, such as corruption (Feiner, 2009).
The financial weakness and other kinds of resource constraintsÂ makes the police dependent upon state and other actors to meet up their operational costs and personal needs. Police legislation make the police accountable to government agents rather than local population leaving room for the ruling class to exploit police as an oppressing tool for their vested interests political and partisan ends. It is widely alleged that all governments in Bangladesh had used the police to crush political enemies while many politicians have used them to advance their personal interests. Political leadership also needs the police to prevent investigation of serious issues of corruption, organized crimes or other matters to which they are involved. This unholy nexus between police and political elite may facilitate gross human rights abuse in the long run.Â Even though these fundamental flaws have been acknowledged by all the governments since the independence, none of them has so far taken effective steps towards a competent and accountable police force.
Police in Bangladesh do not have good reputation in terms of giving service and human treatment since the British period. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) also branded police as one of the most corrupt organizations of the country (2007). Resource constraints, shortage of manpower and other logistic supports are the major sources of police stressors responsible for the reduced performance of police organization in Bangladesh. Their minimum human demands and operational requirements often remain unmet. As a result, people they serve do not get proper service as it was expected. Most of the respondents admitted that they can not fully satisfy the people’s demand and expectation due to organizational shortcomings. Kirschman (2006:67) also stated that it is hard for the police officers to serve the people properly if they are poorly supported by their agencies. Similar findings were also revealed in various newspaper reports of the country regarding police service. One national daily was reporting: “Police service in the country can be immensely improved by giving logistic support and human treatment” (the Daily Star August 10, 2007). Related another officer: “If these humanitarian issues are not taken seriously by both the government and the media, and a police person is not given his or her dues, he or she can not be expected to work efficiently or even honestly.” (The daily star September 04, 2007).
It is frequently told that good and honest people do not come to join the police in Bangladesh. Whether it is true or false, this hearsay reflects the impression of the society about the police members and organization. Many parents do not welcome their son or daughter to join the police. As a result, police organization is deprived of many talented and honest officers. On top of it, people who join the police ignoring all the bad rumors and hearsay, suffer from depression and dissatisfaction. Feiner (2009), Huddleston (2002) and Senjo (2010) also warned that qualified people would be discouraged joining police service and look for secondary or tertiary employment unless working conditionss are improved. Regarding police atmosphere in Bangladesh, Paolo Del Mistro, a police reform specialist saidÂ “people in Europe and the United States of AmericaÂ would not take the job as it can not provide basic needs like decent salaries and housing facilities” ( the New Age February 22, 2007).
Lack of resources, staff shortage, poor working conditions and low pay in the police department of Bangladesh usually undermine the spirit of effective policing and social order that are considered as pre-requisite to the realization of human rights. The weakness of the police organization in maintaining social order has already given the military an opportunity to intervene in civilian police matters. Many special drives are generally conducted by the deployment of army troops as it was done in the recent past.Â Now army has a permanent role in civilian force through the specialized unit of RAB. Â The inability of the police to control pre-election violence in 2006 led to the military intervention into national politics. Military coup on January 1, 2007 is the best example of military intervention in recent years. Every time the military interfered in civilian matters and declared state of emergency, they made an excuse of law and order situation of the country. The realization of other human rights also became harder as many of the human rights were made limited and restricted during state of emergency.
The dire state of the police force in Bangladesh associated with poor working conditions and low pay may sometimes lead to bloody rebellion. For instance, similar conditions sparked bloody BDR rebellion in 2009 leaving over 75 people dead (ICG 2009). There are also a number of instances of such incidents in the history of Bangladesh police. In 1993, subordinate officers at the Rajarbagh Police Lines in Dhaka rose up demanding better working conditions and pay. Fortunately, No blood was shed nor salaries were raised but many officers got sacked. ICG report was quoting a retired police officer who did not rule out the possible chances of copycat revolt like BDR mutiny similar problems in the security forces if situation does not change positively.
This paper investigated the human rights of the police officers in Bangladesh by focusing on their economic and social rights in the workplace. It examined the working conditions, salaries, and other determinants that lead to the violation of the police rights mentioned above. The study also attempted to predict possible outcomes on individual, organizational and social level from the human rights perspective. The study ended up with three general conclusions. First, the economic and social rights of the police in Bangladesh are subject to wide range of violations that include the right to trade union, right to organize and bargain collectively, right to rest and leisure, right to no forced labour, right to work and equal pay for equal work, the right to adequate standard of living, right to food, right to health, right to accommodation. The police rights violation traces from their workplace to the living place. These rights of the police face a serious internal and external resistance in and outside the organization. The internal threat comes from the organization itself that includes legislative barrier, poor working conditions, low wage and insufficient organizational resource flow. Political ill-motives, bad socio-political and socio-economic condition of the country also play as a negative catalyst to the realization of their economic and social rights. The Police Act compels them to be extraordinarily overworked whereas the Labor Law excludes them to have various labor rights including collective bargaining rights and trade union rights. The extremely poor working conditions relating to excessive workload, insufficient holidays and leaves, unhealthy and unhygienic working and living condition and minimal salaries are leading to a broad range of economic and social rights violation of the police member in Bangladesh. The external factors outside the organization such as political ill motive, bad socio-political and socio-economic condition of the country also act as negative catalysts to the realization of their economic and social rights. Political desire to have a weak and corrupt police organization keeps the perennial poor working conditions and resource constraints alive since the British period. Political leaders seem to be unwilling to see a strong, well-resourced and well-managed police organization that makes it harder for them to exploit the police for their own interest. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, all the government seemed to be reluctant to allocate more resources and budget for the police organization.Â The lack of interests of the human rights activists and academicians on the police rights discourse also has its share for the continuation of economics and social rights violations of the police members in Bangladesh.
The deprivation of economics and social rights of the police is combined with resource constraints; staff shortage and abusive organizational set up, all these determinants have combined effect on both the individual and society in terms of human rights perspective. The poor working conditions takes a serious toll on the health of the individual police members causing different kinds of health -related problems including gastric, heart disease, hepatitis B, diabetics and skin diseases. The physical sufferings of the police members reduce bodily function of the individuals that in turns decrease overall organizational performance in terms of giving service to the people. The dysfunctional force sometimes fails to uphold law and order of the society considered essential for human rights of others to be realized. Such failure in the recent past gave room to the other actors (military) to intervene in the state affairs and civilian matters.Â Â Since the situation continues over the decades, the individual police members in the country are very much frustrated and depressed. Consequently, police members exhibit non specific and variable psychological and behavioral response which is really hard to predict. In psychological response, many police officers do not perform duties spontaneously whereas honest officers have the intention to quit the police job. Some of the police officers resort to corruption to meet either the investigating and operational cost or personal needs. Sometimes police and other actors (businessman or politician) go hand in hand. In that case, police react with aggressive behavior to favor him or her that lead to gross human rights violation in the long run.Â Police members in Bangladesh sometimes expose highest level of aggressiveness through bloody rebellion as they did many times in the police history.
In the introductory remarks of this paper, I proposed the concept of equal human rights for the police members. In an effort to establish human rights for them, I argued to emphasize on their economic and social rights of the police in the workplace.
The findings and results can be utilized by the government and policy makers to incorporate quantitative and qualitative changes on individual and organizational level. Police Organization in Bangladesh is severely under-resourced, under-staffed and underpaid which is mainly responsible for overall bad working conditions for them.Â It is the responsibility of the government to provide all the necessary resources and logistics supports to create favorable working conditionss that reduce organizational stress and effect negative outcomes. Government should take measures to increase the police-public ratio by raising the total police population to a reasonable level. At present, the ratio of 1: 1200 is three times lower than the UN recommended ratio and lowest in South Asia.Â The current budget allocation of $420 million is quite insufficient to meet the operational cost and salaries of 123000 police officers. The government expenditure on policing comes from the revenue budget while there is nearly no development budget for the police. Taking the socio-economic condition of the country into account, the police budget and salaries must be upgraded keeping consistency with local and international standard of living. The government should come up with positive attitude in terms of spending for the internal security of the country which is incumbent for human rights to be realized. The policy makers or the police controlling authority will ensure that the human service employees are well managed, well trained and well-behaved so that the members can smoothly perform its operational functions and activities. The police controlling authority should give more attention and focus on the member’s overall wellbeing including working and living condition in the barrack and police stations. The police manager should take responsibility for creating favorable working conditions, caring and supportive culture. In terms of physical and mental health risk, Police managers should make all out efforts to improve ill-health of the members including appointment of health specialists and psychologists. Role clarity, stress management and other kinds of training and promotion opportunities can play significant role in creating a favorable working conditions for the officers.
With a view to improving institutional development, the government must bring reform on legal framework that poses significant obstacles to the realization of human rights of both the police and public. There are a number of laws and legislation in place that contradicts with the human rights norms and values, and are ill-suited for democracy and modern policing.Â The government should either overhaul the whole legislation system or amend the contradictory provisions of the existing laws. More specifically, The government can replace the current colonial-era police law, the Police Act of 1861, by passing the proposedÂ bill “the Police Ordinace 2007” drafted under the sponsorship of UNDP and DFID. The laws apparently lost its utility as Bangladesh is no more a colonial state; rather it has been approaching to a modern and institutionalized democracy. The government can also seek an alternative way by moving towards amendment of the contradictory and vague provisions of the existing legislative systems in line with international legal and human rights standards. The limitations or restrictions mentioned in the Constitutions and the Labour law of 2006 for the disciplinary forces must not be reduced to such a level that undermines the spirit of human and labour rights. The government should allow the police officers to bargain collectively, and to join police union so that they can express their work-related problems and demands for considerations.
A political good will and consensus is required to bring an institutional and functional change in the police organization. The existing legal framework and poor working conditions make the police weak being dependent upon the political leaders. If they favour the current atmosphere to continue, the human rights situation of the police in the workplace will never improve. As a consequence, the violation of general people’s rights will also remain at stake and risk because exploiting police by the political leaders for their own purpose has been an old political culture in Bangladesh.
A positive change in mind set up of human rights advocates and experts is also important for the realization of economic and social rights of the police in Bangladesh. Instead of keeping the interest away from police being perceived as state agent, they can advocate for more autonomy and privatization of the police organization to loose government control and supremacy over police. They can make a positive impression in the police mind set up about human rights concept through giving proper training and also pleading of the same citizenship rights for the police members.Â
Although there are some limitations of the study, the results have some implications for future research. Research can be undertaken to examine to what extent the impacts of poor working conditions of the police organization might lead to the violation of others people’s rights. This may facilitate to develop an effective strategy to address human rights issues in and outside the organization and occupational well-being of the police members in Bangladesh.Â
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