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Issues with Police Human Rights

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Chapter one: Introduction and overview

1.1: General Introduction:

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). When human 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. 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.

1.2: Objectives:

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.

1.3: Research Question: The following questions have been formulated in order to meet the research objectives:

  1. which of the economic and social rights of the police members in Bangladesh come under violation?
  2. What are the factors leading to the violation of the economic and social rights of police members?
  3. What are the possible consequences ofthe violation on victim's lifeandon society at large?

1.4 Background to the study

1.4.1 Personal Motivation:

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.

1.4.2 Relevance in history:

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).

1.4.3 Rationale of the study:

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.  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.

1.4.4 Overview of the study:

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.

1.4.5 Overview of the thesis: The thesis will be presented in six chapters:

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. 

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.

1.4.6 Conclusion:

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.

Chapter two: Demographical and organizational context of the research

2.1 The study population:

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).

2.2 The subject area:

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).  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).   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.

Chapter three: Literature Review

3.1 Introduction:

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.

3.2 Economic and social rights of police:

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 of  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. 

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).

3.2.1 Democratic policing versus economic and social rights of police:

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).

3.2.2 Positive development towards police rights:

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,  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).  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).  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).  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).

3.3 Theoretical framework:

3.3.1 Occupational police stress:

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 disasters  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).

3.3.1 Stress theories:

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).   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).  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).  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).

3.3.2 Consequences of police stressors:

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). 

Chapter Four: Research Methods

4.1 Introduction:

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.

4.2 Study design: Qualitative approach:

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.  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).

4.3 Research approach:

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).

Respondents Selection:

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.

4.4 Sampling and sampling technique:

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.  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).

4.5 Interviews:

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.  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.  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.

Field notes and transcription:

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).  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).

Thematic analysis:

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.

Challenges faced during data collection:

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.

Ethical issues:

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.  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)

Validity and Reliability:

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.  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.

Analysis of the Findings

5.1 Introduction:

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.

5.2 Economic and social rights of police in Bangladesh:

5.2.1 Working conditionss:

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.”  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 ILO  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.  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.  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.  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, 104  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 and  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.  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.  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 adequate  and decent housing accommodation for the employees provided by the employer,  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.  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 e


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