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Speaking Thoughts

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What thrilled my imagination to press my ideas in my words here is my own writer inside me, who made me very anxious to share with rest of the world as to what is going on in my world and words of ideas as well as my emotions.

I come across many facts that keep knocking my mind. Myspaces inside get narrower and suffocated. I can’t keep too many ideas from getting rust and dust. Therefore, perhaps, it tantalizes my conscience as well as creativity to sketch the signature and paint the picture of my thoughts by scanning my mind and my heart on screens that offer accesses to many minds and many hearts to understand and to feel the warmth of ideas and cool breeze of passions for playing the game of words with ideas by attuning them well to changing world of humans and their life scenarios.

I will keep everyone and everything, that grows in my mind, posted here. I will try to get the essence of my conscious heart in a voice, accent, tone, and the way of its own, having a complete spell of originality.

J.J. BAloch

2nd August 2016

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Honouring the Sacrifices

BY J. J. Baloch

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At 6.17 pm on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 it blasted at Charring cross, the heart of Lahore which is the heart of Pakistan and our hearts continue to bleed since it took thirteen precious lives, including two senior cops, Mr Ahmad Mubeen, DIG police and Mr Zahid Gondal, SSP Police who reached the place of incident to negotiating with protesters to clear main Mall Road traffic and to bring paralysed city life back to normalcy.

Following many incidents of similar nature of terrorist attacks, we the cops are grieved to the core on more than 3,700 lives of cops of different ranks from constable to Inspector General since 2002. We need to learn from both the life as well as the death of our fallen officers.  

A haunting thought always touches our mind that this could have been me and my family when we come across any news of police officers laying their lives for public peace. Sometimes we feel honoured and wish for ourselves to lay down our lives for such a noble cause but very often most of us go sad, shed tears,  feel insecure for our families and share the pain but it is not enough.

Only grieving changes nothing but rather offers a grave disservice to the all including fallen officers and their families, our own selves, our departments, and also to our people who we are paid to serve and who we are honoured by for our services and sacrifices. After the incidents like the one have taken place at charing cross Lahore in which our officers have fallen we, instead of grieving, should storm our brains as to what is important now for us as professionals!

As the cop community, it is important for us to feel sad, share the pain and be as much supportive as we can with the families of fallen officers. However, still more important and the best way to honour the fallen officer is to learn from them their life and their death as well. And our learning should be for saving more cops, more families and more people from falling into the hands of the people who define their inhumanity as their faith. Learning from deaths is as important for cops as it is learning from their life experiences.

Not Important is to watch the images and media reports on the shattered lives of the spouses, children, parents and families of the officers so targeted and so fallen. Still not Important is to point fingers at the mistakes of the fallen officers and to devise the ways of smartness. Neither are the commitments for revenge of colleagues so important in this context of continuous loss nor yet shifting responsibility to other stakeholders in peace would do!

In this context of Lahore tragedy it is very sad to have seen many voices pointing against district administration for not disallowing mob to gather at charing cross and for not being available to negotiate with the protesters, the political leadership for keeping police officers under tremendous pressure to work miracles or to face consequences, the police senior command to ensure compliance or pack up, media criticism of so-called security lapses, and judicial activism for avoiding the human rights abuses so caused due to use of coercive authorities to prevent such protests.

However, in Sehwan episode DPO and ASP/SDPO were summarily removed from their posts on the grounds of their failure to prevent the blast. It’s really very strange that we live in a country where our system punishes police for the sins of criminals and terrorists. If this is not the way as I am taking it, why same responsibility does not travel upward and why DIG, IG and for that matter whole political government is not held responsible where only SDPO and DPO are targetted. It is very heartening to note that no action was taken against the deputy commissioner who is in charge of health or hospital of sehwan city where no arrangement of any kind was available despite the fact that present CM Sindh has continuously been holding finance ministry of Sindh government during last 7 years or more.

Same is true in the case of sanitation and ambulance services which, too, is less relevant to police but police work in such emergencies as supporting mechanism. It was reported in media and on social media by some NGOs that the body parts of the victims were found in garbage piles and sewerage pools. Was this the job of the police? Yes, prevention was the part of police but not only of SDPO and DPO.

In terrorism, unlike in crime cases, many agencies work together as a team? Where was Special Branch and other intelligence agencies to issue an advanced specific warning about Sehwan attack? Is it not the failure of intelligence whereas police constables were at least seen in the CCTV footage of shrine checking the entrants but the suspect skipped his eye only due to rush. Not fair to police officers who faced government wrath.

Was this the job of the police? Yes, prevention was the part of police duty but had the local police been able to stop what the mighty armies sometimes fail to do, they would have done it at all costs in a similar way as police had stopped the terrorist in Charsada a few days back. Circumstances at Sehwan and Charsada were not similar. Had it been so the police present there at shrine would have stopped the bomber as they did last year in Shikarpur when two suicide bombers tried to enter into an Eidgah mosque by initially throwing a cracker but brave Shikarpur police, despite getting injured, did not allow the bomber to massacre innocent people. One terrorist killed and the other arrested injured.

Therefore, all police officers who were penalised in Sehwan episode might have done something exceptional, had they been informed beforehand by intelligence departments whose failure this incident decidedly was!

We being cops always feel that our life is between two equally dangerous ditches. An idea always haunts us and our dearest ones that our one leg is in the grave while other in jail. Both the criminal elements as well as law elements keep a watch on us, disbelieve us, watch us, target us, abuse us, punish us, hurt us and sometimes destroy us. This is state of utter disappointment and dismisses the motivation which is required for a good professional cop.

After Charing Cross blast, police stalwarts and some security experts are in hot debate as regards what should be done to save precious lives. Some believe that it is not advisable for senior police officers to expose themselves to explosive mobs because of many reasons. DIG traffic and SSP operations Lahore are said to have had run a serious risk of their lives amid serious threat alerts by doing something that they were not professionally required to do in deeper analysis of procedures. And unfortunately this was exactly what the most of the policemen do in Pakistan; otherwise, they are described inefficient, coward, and non-professional. The example of the dismissal of Muhammad Ali Nekokara when he, as SSP Islamabad, tried to deal with crowd situation in his own way is the most relevant example in this context. Malik Saad who was doing CCPO Peshawar was assassinated by a suicide bomber while he was monitoring a Muharram procession.

Many seniors believe that availability of senior command at processions, rallies, protestations, demonstrations, and similar other crowd situations must be reviewed in the perspective of threats issued by resuscitating and regrouping terrorist networks in Pakistan in the wake of our lacklustre approach towards across the board implementation of our National action plan, particularly discontinuing military courts, extension to Afghan refugees, action against non-state actors, growth of Islamic State in Pakistan in the wake of the return of Mujahedeen from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world and also diversion of global proxies of global powers such as USA and Russia from different parts of the world to Pakistan in post CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) scenario.

Brian Willis, a famous law enforcement educator/trainer and a full-time police officer at Calgary police Service Canada, aptly responses this important question for the police in this way: “Honour the past and invest in the Future”, a two-way approach.

For honouring the past, hardly anyone can disagree with Brian Willis views. He is of the opinion that it is important for us, as the police officers, to find the answer as to what caused the death of cops in certain circumstances, how, and why?

Brian says: “Examination does not involve the greatest lie in law enforcement, which always starts with the same words-“If I was there I would have …..” It involves a question “When I find myself in such situation, what would I most like to do? This simple question points a finger at you instead of on a fallen officer. ..What are you doing to ensure you will have a more desirable outcome? What are you doing to invest in your safety and well-being? What are you doing to train on your own?” Every cop can make his or her own security audit by finding answers to these very vital professional questions.

However, investing in the future involves both investing in “your future and investing in the future of your department”. How and where this investment should be made? For this, there is hardly any better way for the cops than to train, to learn, to apply, to share, to teach, and to preach the learning and experience so gained.

If you are not leader due to your rank but new situation always offers you a space to do and not to do something very decisive. You become your own leader and make the most of the circumstances to do something for you, for your profession and for your people. Accept responsibility for your fitness, skill, and training as you have sworn to serve and protect. Nothing can absolve you from such a responsibility.

What is important now? Government in power, opposition political parties, media, intelligentsia, and the public as a whole should honour the sacrifices made by the police officers in the line of duty in exactly the same way as it is done in the case of any other armed force of Pakistan and also invest in the future of police service as the highly professional organisation standing shoulder to shoulder with world’s best police services by building its capacity and resilience in the wake of new counterterrorism perspectives.

WRITER is student of policing science

Rationalising Fighting the Crime

By: J. J. Baloch

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Dolphins Police Lahore rehearsals for PSL Final 5 March 2017

 

“Running after crooks relentlessly is too late, like catching the horse after it has bolted hundredth time rather than learning how to lock the stable door”, aptly says British criminologist Prof. Tim Newbern. This is exactly how the Punjab police are said to have the terror threat during PSL Cricket final in Lahore clean bowled.

People as well as the analysts, when they talk about the causes of crime, they talk about distant issues like poverty, discriminations, injustice, unemployment, parenting, etc; they neglect the more immediate causes—things that it is often quite easy to control and influence. The central and very important thing is the lack of study and analysis of typical crime pattern.

For years the police have contended themselves with chasing crimes after they have occurred. If such detected crimes result in the conviction, the case is thought to be solved. It’s a good thing to be continued but would seem mad and astonishing if it is not supplemented with a smarter approach to prevent and reduce crime incidents before they take place.

New crime science recognises two major approaches of crime fighting; one is called “social crime prevention”, which focuses on “criminality” while other “situational crime prevention” which spotlights “opportunity”.  Both can produce amazing results but we argue for the latter approach as it deals with the objective and technological arrangements for fighting crime while the former focuses more on subjective things.

Crime Prevention refers to all those measures, policies, strategies and practices that seek to prevent the ‘occurrence of the criminal incident. A simple way of thinking about crime reduction opportunities requires that ‘all crime require victim, offender and location. Crime may be prevented by changing something about either of three, two of them or all of three.

Opportunity minimization approach adopted by Punjab police during PSL final match security arrangements has proven a success against a high level of the terror threat. Not only foolproof security arrangement were ensured by making heavy deployment through cordoning inside and outside, ensuring checked entries of all without any exemption, blocking strategic locations for criminals to make some secret and unnoticed entries, increasing street to street police patrol and vigilance, and running awareness campaigns on media as well as social media to make public aware of the probable and possible threats but also made a thorough spadework through gathering intelligence as well as conducting intelligence-based operations with sizeable arrests of the suspects. The police pro-activeness and preemptive measures succeeded in securing the expected outcomes. The match was played in peaceful and groovier manner and public ventilated their tensions and frustrations in the air of joy and happiness.  l_189071_071147_print

Unfortunately, such type of measures is timely but time-bound. Hardly any such preparedness of security apparatus could ever be sustained as a permanent feature and continued for a longer period due to many constraints and limitations of resources and political priorities.

However, Situational Crime Prevention focuses on ‘the occurrence of crime incidents and situations’ and seeks to reduce ‘opportunity for criminal activity or offence through visibility, presence, surveillance, and physical interventions, in reasonably suspicious situations that likely to end up in offence, by the police, the local community or any actor having stakes in social order, a security scenario as was displaced at PSL Lahore.

The analysis of situational crime prevention always focuses on the “availability of opportunity element” which encourages criminal activity by inviting criminals, by luring non-criminals and by seducing even law-abiding citizens to commit an offence. This state of affairs brings us closer to what would have been the case had the government would not have taken PSL seriously. This could have been another Sri Lankan team. However, many may differ with this extreme view, but hardly anyone could deny the importance “opportunity-factor” in promoting and reducing crime.  psl-enters-play-offs-uncertainty-looms-over-lahore-finals-security-3d66dee7609fd09ab9378c6efabb12ab

First, in order to respond to any crime problem, we need to increase perceived efforts that can help in preventing crime. These include target hardening-steering locks, anti-robbery screens; controlling access to facilities-electronic card access, entry phones; screen exits-electronic merchandise tags, tickets for entry; deflecting offenders-separate bathrooms, street closures;  controlling weapons; and employing telemetric policing methods of distant surveillance through CCTV cameras.

Secondly, we have to manoeuvre increasing “perceived risks” for offender so that he or she thinks thrice before taking risk of committing a crime. These include: extend guardianship-going out in groups, carry mobile phones; assist natural surveillance-support whistleblowers; reduce anonymity-taxi driver Ids, school uniforms; use place managers-CCTV for bus and train stations, two clerks for conventional stores; strengthening formal surveillance-red-light cameras, burglar alarms; security guards.

Thirdly, we have to make it a point to reduce “anticipated rewards of criminal activity” so that criminals lose interest by seeing difficulties in committing offences. Conceal targets-off-street parking, unmarked armoured trucks, and gender;  ensure proper documentation of all sale and purchase activity.

Fourthly, police should take all possible efforts to educate the public to reduce provocations in the society that are likely to result in big unfortunate incidents which either create serious law and order situation or end up in a felony. For this end in view, people must be bound by education as well as strict law enforcement not to irritate neighbours by noise, reduce frustrations, avoid disputes, reduce temptations etc.

Fifthly, the government must remove excuses for dispute or criminal use of force by setting rules for hotel registration, rental agreements, harassment codes, land records, job descriptions, posting instructions, etc.

Lastly, we, for a systematic analysis of crime in the area, should map crime. The intelligent use of crime mapping can provide a better understanding of crime and its location and enables improved targeting, identification of hot spots, resource deployment, intelligence products, and facilitates tactical analysis.

If adopted in true letter and spirit, the situational crime prevention or problem solving approach which this article is trying to advocate could have been able to intervene the terrorist planning to blow Marriott Islamabad, to attack Sri Lankan Team, to Kill our great leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, to kill our soldiers and officers both at GHQ and parade ground Mosque Rawalpindi, to kill police recruits at Manawa, to attack police recruits and lawyers in Quetta, to kill innocent people and the police in Lahore and Sehwan Sharif and many other similar activities at many parts of Pakistan.

But the million dollar question is who will champion this new approach when almost all those in crime industry are “said to have their own vested interests in the status quo”.  The media prefer to see crime as a juicy theme for their attention-seeking headlines. For lawyers, precedence is a virtue and they are content with the system which puts them at the centre and feather their own nest. Most of the academicians seem to be too interested in theorising to be of any practical value to anyone but to themselves. And most politicians shuffling from one policy portfolio to another, reckon crime can be tackled intuitively and wait for miracles to happen.

Therefore, it has been left to a new breed of thoughtful police officers, plus few diligent civil servants and one or two enlightened politicians in high places, to recognise that a new approach for crime reduction is badly needed.  Such a distinctive, intensely practical, truly scientific, evidence-driven and smarter approach is concerned with outcomes that are alarmingly visible and have very meaningful impacts on the law and order as well as on the sense of the security retained by the common man.  Thus, here, too, prevention is better than cure.

The Limits of “Take them Out” Approach

J. J. Baloch

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Having moved by the inhumanity of terrorists in the face of the new wave of terror Prime Minister of Pakistan on February 18, 2017, declared “full-scale war’ on terrorists”. Inculcating a complete sense of security against the terrorism is the primary responsibility of our governments yet an appropriate preparedness is required on addressing the element of “how” this war could be and should be waged! Because things on the ground give quite a different pulse beats; It is, therefore, quite disproportionate to allow the “take them out” approach to dominate our response to terrorism.

The best counterterrorism relies on strategy, not on belligerence and ruthlessness so agree the scholars of criminal justice. Years of scholarship on crime and punishment leaks that certainty of punishment is far more impactful than its severity. Public confidence in the statutory and societal systems is birthed not by the force of its authority but generated by the legitimacy and due process of law which depend largely on the public mandate, popular support, and accountability rather than merely on coercive apparatus and muscle power.

Criminal justice policy discourses have been critical of the idea that “we can best reduce crime by aggressively arresting offenders and throwing the worst of them into prison. Here are some of the reasons why scholars believe this policy is flawed.”

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Despite the best efforts of police in Pakistan and elsewhere, only a tiny proportion of crimes are solved and followed by arrest and punishment. Strangely it is quite unclear as to how this proportion can be increased significantly. Combing streets and neighbourhoods, crackdowns, operations, and increased patrols can be maintained only for short periods and, in any case, produce only a handful of arrests and preventions.

Detection is the best prevention but detective work is so time-consuming that it can be used only in the most serious cases. Even faster response times do not help the police much because perpetrators are usually long gone by the time the police are called. Despite limits and slow speed of professional work, it has very negligible impacts on serving as a cause of further radicalization of otherwise good citizens as is the danger of fallout and reaction can be predicted in using violence while enforcing the law.

“Decades of criminological research have failed to establish a relationship between severe punishment and reduced crime. The best-known example is the lack of statistical evidence that capital punishment deters murder. Because most offenders do not believe that they will be caught, they do not take the risk of severe punishment seriously; others do not care if they are caught because they are drunk or enraged when they commit their crimes.”

Same is true in Pakistan. The culture of impunity reigns supreme. The criminals believe that they can use their money and resources achieved through criminal and foul means to manoeuvre their exit from the domain of punishment and other consequences. Equally true is the factor of chronic public mistrust in government organisations to ensure that all those who commit crime are arrested and appropriately prosecuted, fairly tried and duly punished. The culture of softer punishments loaded with the traditions of corruption, influence, inefficiency and compromise hardly bear any fruit in the process of building strong criminal justice grip on all criminal elements.

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The tougher sentences do not promise crime cuts. The examples of “the cult of being tough on crime” abound. The United States of America being the leading country where inmate population has multiplied yet their crime rates has not shown any signs of going down. Similarly, it is true for some European states who have followed the suit. The violence graph in such countries with tougher sentences and greater prison populations keeps going up and up. Countries such as Scandinavians where rationality prevailed and they focussed investing on rebuilding the broken minds of criminals through rehabilitation and re-connectivity of inmates to their families instead of building heavy prison structures have produced amazing results.

Coercion keeps fuelling the production criminals in the society instead of working well in building peace. The supply of offenders is never ending. According to reports, with each generation of youth, five to ten percent will turn out to be regular offenders. However, many offenders we arrest and imprison others will soon take their place. High rates of imprisonment carry high economic and social costs, both for society in general and for prisoners and their families.

Catching terrorists is not easy. They take even more care than regular criminals to conceal their activities and tracking them down has sometimes led to the use of questionable procedures. Even when we know their identities, we cannot always catch them. This is especially so when they operate overseas, in countries sympathetic to their cause: witness the fruitless efforts to date to find Osama bin Laden.

Those who are willing to die for their beliefs are unlikely to be deterred by the risk of death or punishment. They cannot be tried in open court because of security concerns, and even when convicted, they make difficult prisoners. In fact, perhaps the greatest cost of imprisoning terrorists is that their supporters feel justified in planning fresh outrages to force their release.

Killing terrorists carries even greater costs. It creates more bitterness among already hostile populations, making the conflicts that underlie terrorist acts even harder to resolve. It justifies the use of violence and supports the claim that they are fighting ruthless enemies. It turns them into martyrs and, therefore, into potent recruiting symbols among the impressionable young men whom terrorists seek to attract

None of this means that we should not punish terrorists once they are caught. They deserve punishment because of their evil deeds, and it is right to hunt them down. Some might argue that it is also right to kill terrorist leaders, particularly charismatic individuals who hold considerable sway over their followers and who cannot be replaced easily. Killing these leaders might effectively decapitate the organisation and leave its body to wither, saving the lives of many innocent people.

As a developing nation, Pakistan should rely on a multifaceted approach to terrorism. We must pursue diplomatic and military solutions together with elaborate criminal justice approaches. We must try to improve economic and educational opportunities for foreign populations, both those at risk of becoming disaffected and hostile and those at risk of takeover by terrorist organisations.

We must work to prevent terrorists from succeeding in their attacks by hardening targets and controlling the tools and weapons they use. And when they attack, we must respond rapidly and efficiently to reduce the death and damages that result. Better prevention ensures better cure. “Imprisoning or even killing terrorists will not eradicate terrorism any more than severe punishment has stopped crime.” A holistic approach as laid down in our NAP requires our attention and a complete implementation.

The Writer is policing educator and practitioner

 

 

 

 

Policing Crowds

J. J Baloch

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In police, every situation is a new situation. It is truer in the case of policing crowds. Anecdotes do add value to a police officer, indeed.  Police as a profession attain soundness with developing the strong common sense in making decisions on the spot and with interacting with the public over and over. However, policing crowd has emerged as a full-fledged science of crowd management that needs to be learnt and mastered by the Pakistani cops who are over-obsessed with classical use of force or latest conduct of complete indifference towards the sense of their primary responsibility of maintaining public order.

The need to control crowds birthed the police organisation in the first quarter of 19th century AD in the West. The police force as we understand it today was invented in England and America within the space between the decades falling “roughly from 1825 to 1855”. The same model reached British India in 1861 after 1857 countrywide riots against the colonial regime. The authentic sources of police history confirm that ruling elite created police not for controlling or cutting crime but to control stormy immigrants and frenzied industrial labour riots both in London and New York.  David Whitehouse, a British scholar, says: “The new institution was not a response to an increase in crime, and it really didn’t lead to new methods for dealing with crime. The most common way for authorities to solve a crime, before and since the invention of police, has been for someone to tell them who did it.” Thus, the police are originally born to serve the regimes, not the public and this is where the modern community police draw the difference line and get redefined.

Unlawful assemblies a term used in law are synonymous with unruly and violent crowds that tend to take the law into their hands by challenging, defying, and undermining the writ of the government as well as of the state. Crowds in the streets, roads, crossings and anywhere gather on some agenda and long lists of demands with the regimes in power. Sometimes they just show force to check the pulse of the government without any demands to negotiate. Pakistan has witnessed the bloodiest crowd shows many times in its history but unfortunately, the system of crowd control is yet to grow in shapes.

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Pakistan has a long history of violent crowds. However, we will refer to examples from recent history. In recent past the countrywide riots followed Benazir Bhutto murder, street clashes between MQM militia and the lawyers on notorious 12 May 2007, Pakistan Tehrik Insaf Islamabad crowds, Mumtaz Qadri hanging reactions, Hazara community reactions against terrorist activities in Quetta and many similar situations brought home the alarming fact that our police forces who were responsible for managing the crowds within the limits of non-violence acted like amateurs and in utter confusion. Indecision followed by lack of clarity and acumen to deal with both the crime and its public reactions at all occasions proved their incapacity, resulting in the vandalism and violence so inflicted by unruly crowds.

Serious confusion also existed regarding the political decision making. Many think that it is right of every citizen to fight for his or her rights and to raise the real issues facing the society. It is called the democratic rights of the citizenry who feel that something wrong is being done to them or for that matter to the people of Pakistan who they claim to represent. Sometimes the people leading the crowds defend their vandalism on the grounds of the unavailability of some basic facilities such as water, electricity, sewerage, education, health, and so on and so off. likewise, some refer to rise in street crimes in their localities while others stand for the protection of fundamental rights of life, liberty, property, honour, privacy and also livelihood.

Whatsoever is the reason but the violent methods the protestors employ to try solving their chronic problems do not justify them for sabotage nor does it give the police a licence to use coercion and brute force against them until they do not cross the line of tranquillity by crossing the limits of professionalism and humanity.

Crowds go riskier by violating laws, by infuriating the government, and by exposing the innocent people to vandalism, to terrorist attacks, and to the abuses and coercion of the police. Brutal expressions of the crowd very often result in hurting cops as it happened in PTI dharnas in Islamabad last year, in terrorists attacking and killing cops as well as the public indiscriminately as it happened in Charing Cross Lahore this February, and in killing of the people by the criminals as it took place on 12th May 2007 in Karachi. Crowds offer the opportunity to may anti-state elements to play hell with the public sentiments as well as the government in power on the one hand and make public life paralysed for their petty interests on the other. Therefore, crowds play in the plate of anarchy in the name of democracy.

Policing Crowds need rethinking on how to deal with them with minimum loss. We need to identify the methods to this madness with which we as a nation are always carried away like anything. Mostly our countrymen believe that going crowdier make them powerful, assertive and a real player on the scene to get their work done. But they do it at the peril of everything theirs. Therefore they need some solution. Some calculated and well-weighed steps need to be kept in mind while handling the crowd situations.

First and the foremost is the fact that riots are “inherently unpredictable”. As a result, it is quite likely that certain things are bound to go wrong without anyone’s surprise. Neither the rioters are much planned except the miscreants in them nor yet do police get well prepared well in advance for such coincidental happenings. Therefore, the best lesson is better preparedness, modern training, the establishment of exclusive mob control division in police departments and seeking less violent enforcement models that are used in democracies worldwide.

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Secondly, while dealing with the crowds appropriate choice of words should be made. Many police professionals who have long experience of managing crowd situations are of the view that the “poor choice of words” is sure to invite disaster and to arouse the negativity, hatred, anger, and violence among already disgruntled masses who take police force present on the spot as the agents of devil to play foul with them on the behalf of ruling elite. No word on the part of police officer present on the spot or not present there but issuing statements to media should give any credibility to the rioters’ violent behaviour. Police should refrain from uttering words, “we understand your anger” etc. Such statements and verbosity can add justification to the deviant behaviour of rioters and allow them to go tacitly with their nasty plans of vandalism. The words, “we hear you”, “we listen to you”, and “we are here” can be enough. Less wordy, composed, articulate, and silent cop with very decisive and meticulous diction can run the least risk of ridiculing the mob and hence can manage it well.

Thirdly, it is practice worldwide to nominate the officials for constructively engaging the mobs. In Pakistan, this does happen by default. Whosoever in government hierarchy fits well to engage crowds after looking at the nature and brand of the crowd, the officials prefer point scoring rather than any genuine interest to diffuse the tension. This is good for political expediency and administrative pragmatism but it speaks volumes of the ill-organised system of governance without any focus and leadership to take up such a matter of high public importance with required seriousness. In such state of disorder, the government must appoint a focal person from within or outside the police department as per the nature of the crowd to talk to the mob about resolving the issue facing them. Promise for service rather than a threat for consequences could work well in such circumstances.

Fourthly, in precarious circumstances where everything is unpredictable engagements must be made exclusively with leaders of the crowd at a safe place near mob location so that any targeted attack or likely situation may be avoided. Crowds without appropriate leaders lacking the focus of agitation should not be dealt on higher levels but police station level should take up with them. However, tactics like intelligence raising, increasing spy monitoring inside the crowd, enhancing Camera scrutiny through CCTV and other camouflage methods to find out where the shoe pinches will do better in such vague mob affairs.

Fifthly, good cops deal peaceful protests with caution and care. Such seasoned police officers develop ability to differentiate between the miscreants, who penetrate into peaceful demonstrators to make the most of the peaceful nature of the crowd to generate the violence without being identified in such a grand gatherings, and the peaceful protestors who pose as responsible law abiding citizens entitled constitutionally to express themselves without violating any law, causing any damage to public property, and without encroaching upon the freedoms of their fellow citizens.

Sixthly, One of the good police responses to mob situations is to find “Guy Fawkes signal”. Guy Fawkes is a typical term adopted by Florida (USA) police services to signify a character which joins crowd secretly with masked identity to cultivate violence. Such person does join all crowd occasions with intent to sabotage. This Guy Fawkes is very similar to the character who facilitated a bomber at Charing Cross and had he been identified before he got to the target, the things would not have been the way as it happened to be. The American police officer named Lt. Dan Marco defines such character in these words: “In 1605, Guy Fawkes was a British Rebel who was one of the leaders of the “Gun Powder Plot” in Great Britain. He was brutally executed for his part in the unrealized rebellion and he has become the spirit of many anti-“fill-in-the-blank” movements internationally. He arrives in the vestige of the “Vendetta”-masked individual, and his presence usually indicates the crowd is at least sprinkled with sympathisers of the prone-to-violence anarchist movement.”

Seventhly, Together with all sophistication in crowd management, the police officers on the spot must behave without losing their balances and without breaking their nerves. It is one of the time-tested classic crowd handling tactics to behave as true professional by getting eggs, bottles, and rocks on themselves with the smile. But equally important is to be extremely cautious for staying defensive as well as defended. At such precarious occasions, the police should use force proportionate to crowd violence. Soft weapons like non-life-taking weapons as tear gas, hot water with pressure, rubber bullets pepper spray and other similar things that neither take life nor paralyse people should be preferred.

Eighthly, Police services in Pakistan must adopt a field force model for dealing with unlawful crowds on international standards like the one that operates in Miami USA.  Going for the ‘Miami Field Force’ concept would equip our forces with exclusivity and capability to deal with rioters by offering police department an independent, resourceful, well-trained, responsive force unit in every metropolis and the mega city of Pakistan in all its provinces. Such “Field Forces are self-contained, highly mobile teams capable of responding quickly to hot spots such as arsonists, looters, and shooters. Each unit should have its own commander, chemical munitions and tactical capabilities. These units should train together and have an established movement, parking and deployment protocol. They can be dispatched as a team to address trouble spots.”

Lastly, nothing creates the public disturbance the way a petty rumour can! While dealing with crowd situations, the police should take care of addressing media rumours well in advance or at least well in time by presenting the true picture of the issue in point. In Pakistan, it has been noticed that some people go missing and blame game against police as a primary law enforcement agency starts. Many good and bad elements join and also poke into the matter by creating mysteries and surprises of their own making, putting police in a vulnerable condition by calling violent mob scenarios for the recovery of so-called missing persons. Sometimes they make the news of missing persons as “tortured and killed” or “dead body found and is identified as Mr X who went missing a few days back” on social media. Such type of news lacks authenticity and verification and requires further inquiry to nip it in the bud. “Rumour control is absolutely necessary when facing potential civil disturbances. The ball was not dropped here — it was never even picked up in order for it to be dropped.”

In the wake of above proposals, the Police departments in Pakistan must notify their field forces and crowd management divisions while the government should evolve and issue proper standard operating procedures and an elaborate mechanism of crowd engagement and control for minimising the public disturbance levels and the government losses.

The Fear of Fear

J. J. Baloch

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The constant threat of terrorism has converted the world of ours into a creepy scream house where people, in its every nook and corner, appear to have been overwhelmed by the fear phobia of something cataclysmic, unpredictable, and imminent to happen and to destroy their lives. This has paralysed the real taste of life and progress made by human beings. It needs a fair and square attention at all levels.

During Great depression in the second quarter of the 20th century the President of United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to remind Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Many term fear of fear as Phobophobia which is driven from Greek origin of Phobos meaning fear and phobia also means fear. This phenomenon has become much more real in the 21st century due to terrorist threat megalomania.

Fear of fear is not only a conceptual scenario but a real world challenge. In human history, it has been noticed that it has never been a fear but the fear of fear which has played havoc with the public at large. Every individual does have his or her fears which do not necessarily grow into a monster or disaster unless people at large begun to share it and own it as a collective fear because it is the common fear of fear which disappoints the people of any hope to feel safe anywhere. Today’s digital connectivity has multiplied the fears through rumour and misinformation, causing many psychological disorders, emotional imbalances, popular panics, demographic disturbances, and ideological anarchy.

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Today fear of fear governs not only us as humans but also a leading agent of socio-cultural and political changes. People do not fear to take the biggest of risks as climbing to very high mountains, skydiving, car racing, and many other such activities the way they feel horrified of terrorist threat worldwide. “In fact, people worry far more about the truly tiny risk of being killed by terrorists than they do about the much greater risk of being killed in a car crash or some other accident.”

This type of fearing the fear feeling comes when man-made laws and systems lose their credibility to live up to what they are for. If a citizen of any country is repeatedly reminded that there is a threat and it is of its own kind as well as the gravest of all because that threat is to come from fellow humans, not from nature. Earthquakes, floods and other human disasters do not destroy the people the way the feeling of being insecure against the crime and terror which are to originate not because of geological and environmental reasons but because of human reasons.

Fear of crime is more potent a factor than the crime itself. It is so because actual crime affects only a handful of people who become victims of it but fear of being the next victim overwhelm the entire populations for longer periods. The “same disconnect between risk and fear holds for the crime. Fear of crime increased steadily in the last two decades of the 20th century (the 1980s & 1990s) while reported crime declined steadily”.

Almost similar link exist between public fear and terrorism objectives. Terrorists always try to magnify even their small acts of adventurism by publicising themselves as the superhuman. By so doing they create and cultivates the fear of the unknown in the public. Terrorists keep us on our toes by issuing threats for one thing and planning an attack for other making themselves invincible and unstoppable. Media create sensation and exaggerate things to make their news spicy. This, in turn, makes public believes that their governments are helpless to protect their communities.

Media starts glorifying terrorists portraying them as magic men not because media wishes people to get confused but because this is what people want media to show them and this is what people wait to see in papers and on TV. Media conditioning of the fear of the fear is a natural corollary of public demand. Therefore media is always interested in making storeys than telling the truth of what the terrorists can actually do and what they cannot do!

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On the contrary, media presents government agencies in utter dismay and confusion at the times of national emergencies. In Pakistan, this is truer than anywhere else in the world. Wherever and whenever any natural or man-made disasters have visited Pakistan, media comes on humanitarian issues at the last but starts with criticising government agencies concerned with that particular type of emergency. First media gets started with identifying the inadequate arrangements for meeting the emergency relief operations. Sometimes Media bombard food department for not having stocked well. Many times they blame police and district administration for their poor response and delayed action together with security lapses in case of any security breach or terrorist attack. Very often begin the story of government corruption for having been responsible for everything evil under the sun. What they basically do is more and more fear for future. Terrorists stand glorified while governments demoralised and public panicked.

However, in all kind of emergencies, the media should play fair and square and avoid settling old scores with some specific individuals sitting at the top of that particular department. Media must display greater national responsibility in inculcating the confidence and trust among the people about their governments and the available services together with identifying the limits so that the public may not go out of control knowing that they are deprived of basic human rights and facilities.

“The more frightened we are, the more successful the terrorists will be judging their attacks. Not only does undue fear lower our quality of life but, it also “limits our intellectual and moral capacities, it turns us against others, it changes our behaviour and our perspective and it makes us vulnerable to those who would control us to promote their own agendas.”

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The fear of fear so generated, no doubt, increases the work and responsibilities of the law enforcement agencies especially the police. At the same time, this state of fear raises the public profile of police. Media gets you on the air almost every time to talk to your area public to invigorate their faith in the capability of the system to raise equal to the challenges facing the country. You will be regularly called to talk to human rights programs, media talk shows, morning shows on TV, magazine interviews and features, Chamber of commerce, NGOs, village Panchayat, notables, trade unions, industrial associations, and others who have a direct or indirect stake in public peace.

Even minority communities will seek assurances that they will be protected from hate crimes and that they will not be singled out unfairly by the police.  You will work with local businesses and corporations to improve their security.  And you will have to consult with hospitals, clinics, and schools (whether they are under municipal control or not) to ensure that they are doing all they can to protect themselves.

Managing fear is indeed very taxing and very costly. It can lead governments to spend billions of Rupees/ Dollars on the security and crime fighting which is not a good omen.  It is aptly remarked by very seasoned criminal justice expert that a false sense of insecurity is far more dangerous than the false sense of security. False sense of security leads to destruction in many spheres of life ranging from wasting manpower and resources to losing civil liberties at the hands of more powerful and more mandate expanded police force.

Fear of fear can vanish only when the fear industry is choked. Governments are yet to find counter-fear mechanisms so do are the communities and smaller groups. Democracies are quite silent on this very intricate issue of doing away with the culture of fear of fear. Ironically, countries like Pakistan are keeping criminal silence on addressing these vital issues of greater public and national importance. Let us join hand to not fear the fear of fear anymore and to build stronger resilience in the society.

 

The Writer is a policing educator and practitioner.

The Birth of Terrorism

J. J. Baloch

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Our society stands chilled with the uninterrupted reign of terror. It is commonplace and global phenomenon. Terrorism stands as the gravest challenge to the modern state, democracy and humanity at large –a cause championed by non-state actors. We as the police must ensure justice, order, and fair treatment through due process of law together with shining the light on what divides us as well as what unites us against the challenges of growing intolerance in our society.

“The history of terrorism is as old as humans’ willingness to use violence to affect politics. The Sicarii were a first-century Jewish group who murdered enemies and collaborators in their campaign to oust their Roman rulers from Judea. The Hashshashin, whose name gave us the English word “assassins,” were a secretive Islamic sect active in Iran and Syria from the 11th to the 13th century… Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. Robespierre’s sentiment laid the foundations for modern terrorists, who believe violence will usher in a better system,” writes Amy Zalman in “The History of Terrorism” March 23, 2017, in Thoughtco.com online.

Terrorism in modern sense dates back to French revolution in the 18th century. It was at that time that those who carried out vandalism against the state and society were declared as ‘terrorists’. After that Hitler of Germany declared all Jews as conspirators, traitors and terrorists who according to him had eaten into the vitals of German glory. As a consequence of this presumption, Hitler carried out what has come down to us as ‘holocaust’ during the second quarter of the 20th century. During same time Joseph Stalin of Soviet Union was carrying out the massacre of millions of the people on the pretext of their being against his communist regime as he had declared them terrorists. Many other dictators afterwards in different parts of the world kept on killing their opponents in the name of terrorism.

Therefore, the terrorism was birthed in politics. Those who were not happy with coercive regimes and opposed them tooth and nail for bringing a political change to the extent of using all forms of violence were declared as the agents of terror, disorder and anarchy. Or those who stood for democracy and freedoms against the dictators were designated as terrorists.

In political thought as well as in practice the struggle between the forces of authority and the agents of liberty have been commonplace in all parts of the world. This race of authority and liberty reached its pinnacles during the 20th century. Their worst of races emerged in the socio-political phenomena like extreme freedoms and absolute authority. Freedom when reaches extremes get transformed into anarchy while the authority when out limits its legitimacy becomes the tyranny. For anarchy, people are charge-sheeted while on the other side for tyranny, the blame goes to the state. Only rulers can be tyrants, not their citizenry and vice versa. However, both these conditions and extremes are the father and mother of their son terrorism.

Sometimes, the rulers declare their citizens as terrorists and sometimes the citizens declare their rulers as terrorists who rule through coercion. Political violence which is the soul of terrorism is common in both opposite phenomena. Therefore, when dictators killed, they killed in the name of order and when people rampaged and resorted to violence against their regime, they did it in the name of bringing the better system which promises better protection of their civil liberties. Everyone may be familiar with the terms i.e. state-sponsored terrorism, non-state actors ‘ terrorism, militant insurgencies, religious extremism, cross-border terrorism, global terrorism and many other similar terms which reveal the different versions of violence in the modern world.

The hibernated terrorism gets out of the box of state-citizen bond when this bond breaks into pieces due to jerks of the contractual violations on the part of the either of the two signatories- the state and the citizen. “Scholars dispute whether the roots of terrorism date back to the 1st century and the Sicarii Zealots, and to the 11th century and the Al-Hashshashin.” In 1798 we saw Irish terrorism in the shape of Fenians, the young Ire-Landers’ Rebellion as the glaring example of the point in focus. This was followed by Irish Republic Army (IRA) which was founded by Eamon de Valera in 1916. Irish people were not happy with how they were being treated as an ethnic entity within the political dispensation of the United Kingdom which had a long history and tradition of keeping the ethnic and national entities suppressed and slaves during their exploitative colonial regimes worldwide. Almost same was the nature of Narodnaya Volya a rebellious group who carried out bombings in Russian Empire during 1878 to 1883, assassinating their own king, Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Narodnaya Volya greatly influenced Avetis Nazarbekian who founded  Hunchakian Revolutionary Party in 1887 to carry out a rebellious activity against the Ottoman Empire.

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The French and then American emerged as the flag bearers of freedom by raising against the violent and repressive regimes of kings and the colonial masters respectively. The French got rid of kingdoms and Americans got independence from the colonial masters through violent revolutions during the second half of 18th century AD. “Other pre-Reign of Terror historical events sometimes associated with terrorism include the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to destroy the English Parliament in 1605.”

The 20th century witnessed the growth and expansion of terrorist organisation in many parts of the world. The commonality in all of them was their struggle against the state apparatus which they had declared illegitimate dominance based on might was right dispensation. The examples of such networks and organisations abound which include Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt in 1928, Irgun and  Lehi –the Jewish terrorist networks of Palestine in 1931 and 1940 respectively, Front De Liberation National of Algeria in 1954, Fatah and Palestinian Liberation Army of Palestine in 1959 and 1964 respectively, Front De Liberation Du Quebec of Canada in 1963, Red Army Faction of Germany in 1968, Weathermen of United States of America in 1969, Italian Red Brigade in 1970, Japanese Red Army 1971, Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka in 1976, Egyptian Islamic Jehad in 1980, Hezbollah of Lebanon in 1982, Hamas of Gaza in 1987, Al-Qaida of Saudi Arabia in 1988,  East Turkestan Liberation Organization of China in 1990, Aum Shinrikyo of Japan in 1990, Lashkar-e-Taiba of Pakistan in 1991 and  Chechnyan Separatists of Russia in 1994. Besides this 21st century addition of Islamic State (IS) or Da’aish is also part of the same chain with a little innovation in fighting modalities, although the fundamental objective remains the same statehood as targets of their violence and moral discourse.

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This led to the birth of republics which kept on expanding the world over during the centuries to follow. The republics recognised the fundamental rights of the citizenry to rule themselves and to live a free life under the political systems of their own choosing. The political ideologies developed around the central theme of ‘liberty’ called democracies entered into another showdown with authoritarian regimes of military dictators cloned with nation-states paradigm. The liberty-authority imbalances further fuelled violence in the societies; the lot was said and written on how to balance them.

The liberty-authority showdowns went global in reach and implications after second world war when the cold war started between capitalist and communist blocks of the countries, representing the democracies and dictatorships respectively. The cold war has been the global expression of the problems of statehood and governance. Both the authoritarian and democratic forces continued the create violence and generate divisions as well as conflicts of political ideologies.

The American and Soviets transformed the cold war into a hot war when in 1979 the Soviets invaded and attacked Afghanistan. The Afghan war has been very instrumental in adding new definitions to violence which is later understood as the ‘religious terrorism’. Afghans have groomed that the Soviets were non-Muslims and Infidels who had attacked Islam-a narratives whose architects the Americans decidedly were. Thus, the religion became the political agent of violence after Palatine and Kashmir which were harbouring such terror networks. The Iraq invasion of America added more fuel to fire because this was a total failure which exposed none better than the Western powers especially Americans who invaded Iraq, not for any other purpose except ‘oil’.

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In Pakistan struggle between authoritarian and democratic ideals began with long before Pakistan came into existence but rather it started with the ‘ war of independence’ in 1857 when people of India both the Muslims, as well as Hindus and Sikhs, raised their voice against the repressive rule of British colonialists. All those who tried to raise voice were treated as terrorists. Later the people of Indian sub-continent continued their violent engagement with the coercive rule of British colonialists until they realised the independence in 1947.

Pakistan, not the Pakistanis,  got the independence. Pakistan’s state continued with its colonial structure and makeup as the same feudal lords who were hand in glow with the Britishers managed to maintain the power and pelf structure of the society. The feudal not only grabbed the independence of the people but also maintained the same power structure in Pakistan in which these few families had monopolised the sources of wealth and importance. As a result the serious crisis of statehood ensued in which the authoritarian forces remained dominant over the democratic potentials causing long Martial Laws in 1958, 1979, 1977, and 1998 which laid the foundation of the reactionary violence first in the shape of the fall of Bangladesh in 1971 and the emergence of armed struggle called Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in early 1980s against the dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s repressive policies through the promotion of Madrassa and Mulla culture, restructuring the state narratives through new discourses.

General Zia’s policy of ‘Islamization’ changed the state narrative in Pakistan and stood as a rock against democratic development. The institutionalisation of violence began due to the illegitimacy element within the governance model of Zia. The popular voice was neither heard in any quarter nor yet the rule of the supreme law of the land-constitution- was upheld. This state of affair cultivated hatred, intolerance, and biases on the basis of religion, sect, ethnic group, provincialism, gender, and more, paving the way for violence to grow uninterrupted.

The impacts of continued authoritarianism within the state structure cracked the social and national systems with the continued growth in intolerance and violence in Pakistani society. Followed by Musharaf’s dictatorship, the Pakistan society lost the charm of peace, exposing and making Pakistan vulnerable to terrorist groups who played hell with the weaknesses so caused by the illegitimate regime. This opened the Pandora box of violent extremism and terrorism in our country.

The illegitimacy of governance led to the crisis of statehood which further facilitated political violence which still continues. The recent wave of terrorism during February 2017 was linked to Lal Masjid Islamabad (operation GHAZI) of Jamat ul Ahrar, a militant religious group and many other similar incidents.

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Therefore, the roots of terrorism as an expression of political or politically motivated violence, using intimidation, threat and destruction lie entangled in politics and political realm of the deadly power game between the agents of the state and the non-state actors. The appropriate response to challenge must be explored somewhere in the affairs of the state which are designed to address the public sensitivities for peace, progress, fair treatment, protection of their fundamental rights, and justice.

The discussion in point brings home the point that terrorism in Pakistan as in any other part of the world been birthed by the imbalances between the state authority and popular liberties. Those enchained have tried their best to shift paradigm by establishing their nuisance, aura and awe.

Thus, we need to mobilise people by engaging, motivating, and displaying response and responsibility on the part of the state because terrorism hibernates somewhere in the nature of the state citizenry relationship which no other system but democracy alone balances beautifully.  It is perhaps the reason why state declared terrorists have been the freedom fighters of their people.

On the Genetic Criminality

J. J. Baloch

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This article, using genetics, tries to explain criminal behaviour in terms of genes and facial features of human beings. Modern crime science very aggressively claims that genes and facial features can be instrumental in understanding and in predicting as to who will commit which crime! Though this connotation might have flabbergasted few but have saddened many to fall victim to this so called infallible machine crime readings.

Being a cop it startles me like anything to believe that there could be some crime or war genes in human body or mind but many crime scientists are struggling to establish this through their modern research on criminal behaviour that such genes do exist. Having the amateurish understanding of the biological make-up of human brain and body, we as the policemen can hardly think that criminals are born but our anecdotes tell us that they are created. However, whether genetic tendencies of crime should be factored into criminal profiling and sentencing or not would constitute to be the leading question of criminal justice research and policy in future.

Our blame or reliance on the environment and social conditions as responsible for criminal behaviour are also owned by the sociological as well as a psychological school of criminal behaviour but the modern research on criminality appears to have tilted more towards verifying and further exploring the claims of the biological school to explain the causes of crime.

“Due to perceived racial bias in previous studies, genetics have been left out of the theoretical equation for analysing and interpreting crime for the past 20 years by most involved in criminological studies… Scientists are quick to warn that social or environmental factors play a meaningful role in whether or not genetic crime-contributors will ever be triggered; however, studies have revealed compelling information.” Poor diet, mental illness, bad brain chemistry, and even evolutionary rewards for aggressive criminal conduct have been proposed by the proponents of the biological constructions of human criminal behaviour.

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Criminologists are now interested in understanding as to how genes can increase the risk of committing the crime. Recent studies of criminal behaviour in the US have confirmed that samples of twins and other children were exposed to eight or more environmental risk factors and those samples in which genetic formations of crime were dominated showed 80% tendency towards violence. “In a long-term study of 1,000 babies, children who demonstrated less self-control at three were more likely to commit crimes 30 years later. Despite this, criminologists reassure that there is no such thing as a ‘crime gene’; rather, traits that are linked to aggressive or antisocial behaviour that could lead to crime in certain environments are the subject of research.”

On 28 October 2014 Melissa Hogenboom, a science reporter for BBC referring to the British Journal of Molecular Psychiatry reported that criminologists carried out a study in Finland which had found that  “the association between genes and violence was strongest for repeat violent offenders”. The study explained at least 10% of all violent crime in Finland could be attributed to individuals with these genotypes. According to the finding, two genes in the human body were linked to the violent behaviour.

“The two genes associated with violent repeat offenders were the MAOA gene and a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13). The MAOA gene codes for the enzyme Monoamine Oxidase A, which is important for controlling the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. CDH13 has previously been associated with substance abuse and ADHD. Those classified as non-violent offenders did not have this genetic profile. A deficiency of the enzyme this controls could result in “dopamine hyperactivity” especially when an individual drinks alcohol or takes drugs such as amphetamines, said Prof Tiihonen. The majority of all individuals who commit a severe violent crime in Finland do so under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

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Media reports on recently disclosed findings of Chinese criminological research awaken many who deals with crime or are the part of criminal justice for their attention to genetic and facial formations of the criminals. Rob Jongschaap an analyst of crime and criminality  writes referring to this study: “In a paper titled ‘Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images,’ two Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers say they fed ‘facial images of 1,856 real persons’ into computers and found ‘some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.’ They conclude that all four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.”

Automated inference on criminality using face images by Chinese criminologists reads: “We study, for the first time, automated inference on criminality based solely on still face images. Via supervised machine learning, we build four classifiers (logistic regression, KNN, SVM, CNN) using facial images of 1856 real persons controlled for race, gender, age and facial expressions, nearly half of whom were convicted criminals, for discriminating between criminals and non-criminals. All four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic. Also, we find some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.”

“Above all, the most important discovery of this research is that criminal and non-criminal face images populate two quite distinctive manifolds. The variation among criminal faces is significantly greater than that of the non-criminal faces. The two manifolds consisting of criminal and non-criminal faces appear to be concentric, with the non-criminal manifold lying in the kernel with a smaller span, exhibiting a law of normality for faces of non-criminals. In other words, the faces of the general law-abiding public have a greater degree of resemblance compared with the faces of criminals, or criminals have a higher degree of dissimilarity in facial appearance than normal people…”

Many fear that such crime face readers and half cooked genetic basis for criminality could be very problematic, discriminatory and in many cases very biased on the basis of ethnicity, race, colour, and religion.  “The fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning are moving so quickly that any notion of ethics is lagging decades behind, or left to works of science fiction.” This is what a new study at Shanghai Jiao Tong University tries to establish and explain. How strange it looks to us that now onwards computers can tell whether one will be a criminal based on nothing more than your facial features and genetic makeup. This attempt is closer to the similar bankrupt moral basis of popular psychological theories of last millennia which tried to justify the supremacy of one racial group over another.

“But phrenology, which involved studying the cranium to determine someone’s character and intelligence, was debunked around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and few outside of the pseudo-scientific fringe would still claim that the shape of your mouth or size of your eyelids might predict whether you’ll become a rapist or thief”, Rob J. further argues.

Determining who will commit what type of crime in what circumstances with what genetic composition is a complex analysis. Various academic fields contribute relevant theories that must be understood by the criminologists to advance their understanding of why certain types of people commit certain types of crimes. But could this be possible for anyone to have some certain and definite deductions without ever knowing the ‘motive’ which is cardinal part of any type of crime?

“We’re all products of genetics and the environment but I don’t think that robs us of free will or understanding right and wrong”, says Dr Christopher Ferguson, Stetson University, Florida

Though these new aspects of understanding and explaining crime require more scientific inquiry and scrutiny, yet are very appealing and interesting themes for cops as well as other criminal justice agents. These new ideas of explaining criminality are yet to go a long way in developing a strong theoretical framework based on testable and reliable findings.

The Writer is a policing educator and a novelist…