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Understaffed and abysmal: India's police story in numbers

Sourjya Bhowmick | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:29 IST

India is a huge country and policing the burgeoning population is indeed a tough task. Factors like political interference, daunting schedules, and low salaries make it tougher.

But external factors apart, there is a big question mark on the efficiency of India's police forces: remember how slow the cops were during the Pathankot seize and how they couldn't stop a car from breaking into the Republic Day parade in Kolkata.

Read- Sinister cell: how Delhi police created fake terrorists

So what ails the Indian policing system? Here's a look at the Bureau of Police Research and Development figures:


  • was the number of police personnel per 100,000 people in India in 2014.
  • The global average was about 350 in 2011.
  • Overall, 2.3 million personnel were protecting 1.2 billion people in India, covering 3.1 million square kilometres.
  • Basically, while one cop was sanctioned to manage 540 people, in reality s/he was responsible for 716 people.
  • Bihar and West Bengal face the biggest crunch.While 1 police personnel in Bihar serve 968 people, in its neighbouring state the number is 832.


  • the number of vacancies in both civil and armed police forces in January 2014.
  • Uttar Pradesh reported the most - 199,420 - vacancies, followed by Gujarat (42,870).
  • There were 18 vacancies at the top level in state police forces; at the constable level, the vacancy was 390,261.
  • The Union ministry of home affairs advised all states in September 2014 to fill these vacancies. The ball is in the court of the states as it is a state subject.
  • At Crime Investigation Departments - the wing for investigation of serious crimes - there were 1,441 vacancies; in special task forces, dealing with extremists, terrorists and gangs, the vacancy was 7,138.
  • Reasons for vacancy are plenty - from stressful duty hours, low salaries to slow recruitment.
Also read: Mr Kejriwal, here's 7 things you can do to stop rape without the Delhi police


  • is the total number of personnel in position at the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in 740 battalions.
  • There are eight categories of CAPF:

  1. Assam Rifles
  2. Border Security Force
  3. Central Industrial Security Force
  4. Central Reserve Police Force
  5. National Security Guard
  6. Railway Protection Force
  7. Sashatra Seema Bal
  8. Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force

  • There is a total vacancy of 80,261 personnel in these cadres.
  • CAPF are engaged in important tasks like policing border areas, providing security to public sector undertakings, riot control, fighting insurgency. This huge vacancy indicates the vulnerability of India's security infrastructure.
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A horse-mounted police man evicting the mob during the IPL champions on 3 June 2014 in Kolkata, India. Photo: Subhankar Chakraborty/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images


  • is the representation of Dalits in Indian police forces.
  • Many states have not fulfilled mandated reservations.
  • In UP, the government has laid down for a 21% quota; but only 8.7% of personnel are Dalits.
  • The highest gap (12.2 percentage points) in UP is followed by followed by West Bengal (8.76 pp), where Dalits make up 13.24% of the force against a stipulated 22%.
  • Tribal representation is meagre too - only 8.2%; even Chhattisgarh, with a heavy tribal population, has a deficit of 13.2 pp.
Read more: 33% quota for women in central police forces from this year



  • was spent on policing, excluding CAPF, across states in 2013-14.
  • This was double the amount was allocated to generate rural employment that year.
  • However, only 1.7% of this was for police training.
  • On an average, across states, only 2.9% of state expenditure is allocated under police heads; Odisha spent the least - 0.2%.
  • Lack of funds are a major challenge for police reforms. According to experts, underfunding has not only deterred modernisation but also led to a manpower crunch.
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Policemen keep watch as spectators arrive at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on 3 October 2010. Photo: K Asif/India Today Group/Getty Images


  • was the number of women in Indian police forces, excluding CAPF, far lower than western, developed countries.
  • Women made up only 6.1% of the forces; there are a total 518 women police stations.
  • Studies have indicated that women personnel were given mostly desk jobs and were not accepted by male colleagues.
  • In 2013, the Centre issued a guideline saying there should be a 30% representation of women and all police stations should have 10 female constables and three female sub-inspectors.

The worrying statistics include:

  • 600 police buildings being operating from rented premises
  • 153 firearms being stolen from police stations
  • an average 1,000 unlawful detentions by cops every year

Clearly our police forces are not in the best of shape; they are understaffed, minorities and vulnerable groups are under represented and funding is abysmal.

Edited by Joyjeet Das

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First published: 24 January 2016, 7:43 IST
Sourjya Bhowmick @sourjyabhowmick

Born and raised in Kolkata, Sourjya is all about the numbers. He uses data to contextualise stories on a broad range of topics. Formerly with the Hindustan Times and IndiaSpend, any time not spent researching and writing is spent reading non-fiction and tackling his unending collection of films. An alumnus of Presidency College, Kolkata, he has a post-grad degree in Political Science from Calcutta University and was actively involved in student politics. He's a fan of Tintin comics, Germany's football team, Mohun Bagan and Old Monk.