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Case Studies

Case Study – 10 : Resident Welfare Association (RWA) vs Night Shelters For Labourers

  • 11 Sep 2018
  • 4 min read

You are the Station House Officer of a police station. Recently, there has been a spurt in theft incidents in your area. Some of these incidents have occurred even during daytime. The Resident Welfare Association (RWA) has blamed the labourers, residing in night shelters for the crimes.

The night shelters are the result of an initiative by the police to help the homeless people to seek refuge from the biting cold at night. You have taken great pain to get these night-shelters up and running. The record of all those who stay in these night shelters, for instance, their names and identity proofs, is with the police. But the police has no information if any one of them has a criminal record.

Even as an investigation regarding the thefts is going on, the RWA members are demanding that these night shelters be dismantled and the labourers be driven away from their homes.

  1. What are the options available to you?
  2. Evaluate each option and suggest the best course of action.

Solution

As the Station House Officer of a police station, which is also the custodian of the night shelter, the options available are:

(i) Dismantle the night shelters as per the demands of the Residents Welfare Association.

(ii) Persuade the members to wait for the investigation reports before taking any decisive action.

(iii) Provide additional security in the affected area to assuage their discontent.

(iv) Summon all the labourers and threaten them of eviction if they don't give the information they have of the thefts.

(v) Ignore the demands and continue with the investigation.

(vi) In the long run seek the cooperation of the welfare association to strengthen the security arrangement of the area and also suggest the local urban development office or municipality to install CCTV cameras.

Option (i) would provide immediate relief, but in absence of any conclusive evidence it will be injustice to the displaced. Also the entire community cannot be punished for the wrongs of a few (even if it is later proved that some of shelter inmates are involved).

Option (ii) is difficult to achieve in view of the opposition, but it is desirable and also legal.

Option (iii) is not legal, but permissible if any link exists of the involvement of some of the labourers in the recent theft. However, the threat should be exercised only on prime suspect and must be limited to investigation.

Option (iv) is legally correct but morally wrong for a Station House Officer, one's responsibility is also to address the genuine concerns of residents and keep the credibility of police intact.

Option (v) is applicable in the long run once the case is solved.

Since no conclusive evidence is available against the labourers, no legal action can be taken against them. One should begin an investigation immediately and till then take recourse to option (ii) i.e. talking with the association members and providing additional security to them. Once the case is solved the long run measures will be implemented.

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