Time to reform law enforcement in Bangladesh

Time to reform law enforcement in Bangladesh

We appeal to the Bangladesh government to take this opportunity to bring radical system wide reform for policing in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Police today is descended from the medieval period and more recently the British period from 1857 to 1947. After 1947 the Police functioned much in the same way as it did during the British era.

Since the independence of Bangladesh the police force kept up its traditions and acted in much the same way as it did as a hostile enforcer instead of service orientated force.

Various government initiatives were introduced to reform the organisation but the rotten core that existed for hundreds of years was never able to be completely diminished.

Today Bangladesh witnesses Police excesses against the opposition party activities and ordinary people. Allegations of unbridled corruption, full politicisation (with bias towards ruling party), enforced disappeared, extortion, robbery, rape, extrajudicial killings, murder for hire and thuggery have become all too common for the premier law enforcement agency of Bangladesh.

Ultimately this leads to lack of public security, space for terrorists to utilise and recruit, breeds corruption and encourages lawlessness in the country hurting other positive initiatives of the government.

To address this problem a gradual, phased disbandment of the Bangladesh Police needs to occur and a totally new force comprised of dedicated, educated, pro-people service orientated organisation needs to be raised. We believe this rather radical change is necessary in ridding the stigma of bad policing in Bangladesh.

Having over 250,000 personnel disbanding and replacing the Police with a new law enforcement agency will not be an easy task and cannot certainly be completed within a few years but it must be done so in such a micro-managed manner that it leaves no room for doubt in the public perception as well as actual ground level enforcement of the law is concerned.

Naming

For the sake of scholarly discussion we may refer to the new law enforcement agency as Bangladesh Public Security Services (BPSS).

Mission

  • Maintain law and order within the borders of Bangladesh
  • Assist government in undertaking aid to civil administration
  • Assist the Bangladesh Armed Forces during wartime
  • Undertake peacekeeping operations abroad under the auspices of the United Nations
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Training

The training of the BPSS must ensure incorporation of best international standard practices. For this BPSS may seek cooperation with the law enforcement agencies of the United States and United Kingdom. BPSS must ensure use of modern techniques, technologies and uphold human rights guaranteed under the constitution of Bangladesh. It must also uphold the service standards expected of its personel during day to day running of the organisation.

The Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) may report directly to the offices of the Director General of BPSS and liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Organisation

Public Security Services Divisions

Respective BPSS Divisions to maintain own Detective Branch, Crisis Response Teams, logistical, accommodation and communications elements. Divisions to be led by a Major General ranked officer (Divisional Officer Commanding).

  • Metropolitan Public Security Services (Dhaka, Chattogram, Barishal, Khulna, Sylhet, Rangpur, Rajshahi)
  • Regional Public Security

Public Security Services Investigation Bureaus

Highest independent investigation bureaus commanded by a Brigadier General ranked officer from the BPSS.

  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – Premier investigative agency
  • Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) – Independent internal affairs agency

Public Security Services Special Operations Organisations

Field level special operations organisations involved in collection of evidence, response and prevention of crimes as well as providing protection to vulnerable groups. Each organisation to be led by a Brigadier General ranked officer.

  • National Intelligence Organisation (NIO) – Premier domestic intelligence agency responsible for intelligence collection, counter-intelligence
  • Counter Terrorism Organisation (CTO) – Central counter terrorism authority
  • Counter Narcotics Organication (CNO) – Premier counter drug, undercover agency
  • National Crime Lab (NCL) – Forensic investigation services, R&D
  • Victims Support Organisation (VSO) – Comprehensive nodal organisation for supporting vulnerable groups including women, children
  • Public Relations Organisation (PRO) – Undertake programs to bridge gap with general population, improve PR, assist in developing film and media, conduct social awareness initiatives

Public Security Services Internal Security Battalions

Striking battalions, border and maritime security battalions to be led by a Colonel ranked officer accountable to the BPSS Regional Headquarters, which are to be commanded by Brigadier General led officer.

  • Public Security Battalion (PSBn) – Premier striking battalion with autonomy to operate across entire Bangladesh
  • Public Security Reserve Bn (PSRBn) – Supporting reserve battalion
  • National Security Battalion (NSBn) – Airport, land port operations battalion
  • Maritime Security Battalion (MSBn) – Especially trained and equipped for riverine and coastal security operations
  • Public Security Aviation Battalion (PSABn) – Operate aircraft, provide support to BPSS operations with surveillance and transportation
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Public Security Services Protection Battalions

Special protection battalions to be led by a Colonel ranked officer accountable to the BPSS Regional Headquarters, which are commanded by a Brigadier General.

  • Special Security Battalion (SSBn) – Protection of VVIP elements, high ranking foreign visitors
  • Industrial Security Battalion (ISBn) – Provision of security in industrial zones including investigation of industrial accidents and crimes within industrial zones
  • Public Communications Battalion (PCBn) – Highway and railway security battalions
  • Tourism Security Battalion (TSBn) – Protection of tourists, important tourist sites and regions

Public Security Services Institutes

These institutions are responsible for training and managing all Public Security affairs.

  • Public Security Services Headquarters (PSSHQ)
  • Public Security Services University (PSSU)
  • Public Security Services Academy (PSSA)
  • Public Security Services Training Centre (PSSTC)

Ranks

Ranks have been simplified to correspond with defence services and instill pride and recognition.

  1. Lieutenant General – Director General of Public Security Services
  2. Major General – Divisional chiefs or regional and metropolitan PSS agencies
  3. Brigadier General – Chief of Special Operations Organisations
  4. Colonel – PSS Battalion chief
  5. Major – Company chief
  6. Captain – Station chief
  7. Lieutenant – Sub-station chief
  8. Sergeant Major – Specialist team leader
  9. Sergeant – Specialist
  10. Constable – Entry level

Medals

  • Bangladesh Public Security Services Medal
    • Grade I and Grade II – Including service medals
  • President Medal for Public Security Services
    • Grade I and Grade II – Including service medals

Human Resources

  • Active Personnel: 450,000
  • Reserve/Auxiliary: 35,000

Concluding remarks

The intention of this paper is to generate discussion and possible actions to improve the quality of law enforcement in Bangladesh. We believe if genuine changes take place the general population will feel more confident about their safety. It will also generate business confidence and an overall boost for Bangladesh’s national image.

In saying so we also recognise the tremendous professional elements within Bangladesh’s Police service. We know they will no doubt be supportive of reforms to ensure their hard work are not sullied by bad apples.

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