The Hot-spot policing

J. J. Baloch




Hot-spot policing emphasizes the specific places which become hotter because of crimes getting concentrated and repeated there. It begins with an assumption that a particular place offers the criminals an opportunity to commit crimes and escape easily without being caught. “Hot spots policing strategies focus on small geographic areas or places, usually in urban settings, where crime is concentrated” (Braga et al. 2012).

In this sense, many crime scientists believe, place-based policing is theoretically based on routine activities theory (Cohen and Felson, 1979), which identifies crime as a matter of the convergence of suitable victims present at certain places from where criminals can anticipate little chances of facing the consequences of his or her commission of criminal act or he or she foresees minimum risk and an absence of capable guardians or police. Of course, all these elements must occur within the context of a place or situation. Accordingly, place-based policing recognizes that something about specific places leads to the convergence of these elements.

When I was doing as SSP/DPO district East Karachi in 2015, I came to know that certain crimes were taking place at particular places. As for example, the areas which were identified for daily mobile and other valuable snatchings included Tipu Sultan Crossing, Jauhar Mor, Old Sabzi Mandi, Stadium Road, Dalmia, Disco Bakery in Gulshan, Tariq Road and its suburbs particularly PECHS block two and civic centre. In order to control the street crime, I raised deployment of anti-street squads with motorcycles raised for this purpose at the identified spots. Crime reduced for some days at these hot spots but it was displaced to other areas as university road, Millennium Mall and such other places.

We observed that the street criminals are smart enough to track police activity and plan crime according to their calculation of perceived risks, anticipated rewards and ease of exit without being caught. Keeping in view the smartness of the criminals, I, after analysing crime trends and patterns through available data of previous years, placed armed police officers as under covers in civvies at the places which we thought could be next likely targets and where our uniformed personnel were not visible or present. In this way within a weak our undercover personnel had more than ten encounters killing and injuring entire operatives of the gangs active in street snatchings. This state of unpredictability served as a strong deterrent to street crimes and it fell almost to 70%. Thus, the strategies of place-based policing can be as simple as bringing extra patrols and intensive deployments to repeat crime places.


Hot spot policing is no substitute to problem-oriented and community policing models because in its very nature this approach can’t be sustained for pretty good time and it displaces crime rather than eliminating it. Other police practices are focused primarily on people. Those practices often begin with people who call the police and are focused on identifying offenders who commit crimes. They end with the arrest of those offenders and their processing through the criminal justice system. Catching criminals on a case-by-case basis and processing them through the criminal justice system remains the predominant police crime prevention strategy.

However many crime prevention researchers suggest that police should put places, rather than people, at the centre of their practices. Their point is not simply that places should be considered in policing, but that they should be a key component of the databases that police use, of the geographic organization of police activities, and of the strategic approaches that police use to combat crime and disorder. It goes without saying that for crime data analysis place where the crime takes place repeatedly offers easy statistics for mapping crime and make the strategy to deal with accordingly but the problem of crime remains to be solved.

There is perhaps a no better-established fact in criminology than the variability and instability of offending across the life course. It is well-established that a primary factor in this variability is the fact that most offenders age out of crime often at a relatively young age. But there is also evidence of strong instability in criminal behaviour for most offenders, even when short periods are observed. This may be contrasted with developmental patterns of crime at the place, which suggests much stability in crime incidents over time.

However, you would be rolling your eyes in disbelief that the average age of a street criminal is around 16 years and going for zero tolerance policing would certainly cause the public to get disgruntled over striker actions against teenagers. In one incident a purse of the school teacher was snatched while she was on her way to shop from Chase-up Grocery shop on Shaheed-e-Millet Road in the jurisdiction Police Station Firozabad. Our undercover officials with the help of some active citizens present on the spot arrested all two motorcyclist teenagers red-handed with the pistol loaded and recovered the snatched purse. The lady teacher whose purse they snatched got offended not with snatchers but the people who caught them and handed them over to local police. She came all the way to police station, contacted me and strongly fought for their release only on the basis that they were teenagers and need restoration more than punishment. I was amazed at the positivity and optimism of that lady who was hell-bent on getting them out of the bars and refused to get her case registered. After getting fingerprints and photos I handed over both teens to that madam; she gave them two thousand and her cell number to contact her for any work they wanted to do if they were not doing it due to any reason of poverty or unavailability of opportunity. We got suspicious and confirmed the credentials of that lady and found that she was running a charitable institution and her family was into the business of construction. She knew how to rehabilitate the teens.


From this incident of the positive engagement of that lady teacher, we as police officers had some takeaways. First, the punitive approach is not always effective and it varies from criminal to criminal and crime to crime. Secondly, there is the sense in trying for restorative strategies especially where underage teens or women are involved in crime. Thirdly, we should not at all ignore as to what conditions and circumstances of life and livelihood produce such criminals in their early age; there is need to get this right at the root. This is called root-cause approach in crime science.  

However, this approach of looking into the distant causes of crime costs police too much and is not true in case of hardened criminals who run the organised gangs. Lawrence Sherman, Lorraine Green and Weisberg were among the first researchers to show that hot spots policing could be effective in doing something about crime. At a time of scepticism regarding the effectiveness of police practices, they found that concentrating patrols on crime hot spots could benefit crime prevention. One long-standing objection to focusing crime prevention geographically is that it will simply shift or displace crime to other places not receiving the same level of police attention that crime will simply “move around the corner.” This is what I observed while increasing patrols around the hot spots. What really worked was undercover officials but the fact remains that they too were placed at spotted areas of crime clusters.  

Our experience of mapping crime in terms of places in our metropolis Karachi district East 2015 provided us with the advantage of qualitative data collection to understand why place-based policing does not simply push crime around the corner. We found that offenders did not perceive all places as having the same opportunities for crime. For example, easy access for clients was a critical criterion for drug dealers in PIB colony Karachi, as was relatively few residents who might call the police about prostitutes in Clifton. The need for special characteristics of places to carry out criminal activity meant that crime could not simply displace to every place in the Metropolis. Indeed, the number of places evidencing such characteristics might be relatively small. In turn, spatial movement of offenders from crime sites often involved substantial effort and risk by offenders.


“Policing places puts emphasis on reducing opportunities for crime at places, not on waiting for crimes to occur and then arresting offenders. Successful crime prevention programs at places need not lead to high numbers of arrests, especially if methods are developed that discourage offenders” (Weisberg: 2006).

Many Policing experts argue that “it is time for police to shift from person-based policing to place-based policing”. However, It holds true even today that the primary function of police even in the twenty-first century remains to be catching criminals to be processed through a well drawn criminal justice system. It is worldview of policing which many want and argue to replace with ameliorating crime on the spot. I am of the firm opinion that 21st century policing in post 9/11 world has witnessed greater innovations in policing strategies whose focus range from offender, place of offence, victim, opportunity minimization, and incapacitating criminals both through punitive and well as restorative methodologies to intelligence-led, predictive, and problem-solving approaches to deal with crime control.

All these approaches have both the advantages as well as disadvantages; the seasoned police officers go for the most suitable strategy that suits their area to achieve the goals of reducing crime both through detection as well as prevention. Without denying the scientific analysis potential of Hotspot policing, I always prefer to take the best from all police innovations of modern times and make the most suitable mix in what is called “the strategic policing based on networked approaches”. For me this has always worked very well. 

The Writer is a Blogger, educator, Novelist and senior Police Officer at police service of Pakistan.


Whiter than White: A Book Review

Reviewed By: Faahid Shoukat Ali


It was just by chance that I happened to come across J. J. Baloch’s novel Whiter than White at one of the posh bookshops (Liberty Books) of Karachi. Its revealing title page attracted me in the first place and then I hurriedly skimmed through the novel, to get an idea about its theme. I admit that once I started reading the novel, I could not take it off my mind for a moment (even during the time when I was not reading it) and finished it in just two days’ time.   

2. Whiter than White is a scathing criticism of the gender bias against women that is firmly entrenched in our culture, traditions, policing, jailing and criminal justice system. The writer, a senior police officer of sterling professional credentials, has got to the heart of the reality and exposed the seamy side of the system that treats woman nothing more than an article of daily use. J J Baloch has created a very powerful novel out of what sounds like a mundane theme. His graphics and captivating depiction of the routines and realities of our life reminds the reader of the tradition of realism in modern British drama that started with John Osborne’s famous play Look Back in Anger, which was staged on 8th May 1956 in London’s Broadway Theatre for the first time. No reader can miss the pronounced tinge of verisimilitude that pervades the novel from beginning to the end. 

3. Hoor, the heroine of the novel, suffers immensely at the hands of the inherently hostile system and its cruel custodians. And the result is a heart-curdling tale of trials and tribulations. She is a frail person, but only in terms of her physique. By no means does she give an impression of frailty in the sense in which Shakespeare meant it in his frequently quoted phrase in Hamlet – “Frailty, thy name is woman”. Shakespeare’s hero laments feebleness of female character in the context of his mother’s involvement in the killing of his father in a bloody display of power politics. Clearly, Shakespeare’s idea of frailty, in the context of Hamlet, is pretty inclusive: it includes not only the lack of physical strength that women folk are heir to but also the weakness of moral and psychological nature as well. However, J. J. Baloch’s heroine presents a complete contrast to the Shakespearean depiction of

4. woman in Hamlet. Hoor is beautiful in the body as well as in soul in the best of proportions. Her beauty of body and soul is very well supplemented by the immense courage and God-gifted mental strength. All these components combine together into an exquisite whole, to enable her to conquer everyone she comes across: she is the embodiment of Truth, in the sense that John Keats describes it – “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.” Her valiant character comes to her rescue quite often during the novel. However, besides adding spice to the story, the novelist has used all these events and incidents (displaying her courage) as a characterisation technique. She is even more courageous than Jibraan Khan, the great feminist writer and women rights activist who not only fights successfully for Hoor’s release and introduces her to the world at large but also marries her. For example, when she and her newly-wedded husband are on the plane to flee the country with a view to avoiding life threat received from a terrorist outfit, she does not mince words and tells him categorically: “Don’t you think we are cowards, who are leaving their homeland to escape death which could catch us anywhere anytime, even on this plane? Do we presume that a miracle will happen in our country and angels will descend from above to bring our country back on track? Thus, even death cannot deter her from the principled stance she has on priorities in life.

5. Whiter than White also carries a message, like most world-class pieces of literature, do – for example, nearly every novel written in the 18th century in England entails a message. J J Baloch does identify a serious social malaise of our society (that is, gender bias against women) but he does not leave the reader in a state of helplessness and despondency: instead, he also suggests, with the subtle touch of a great artist, the solution to that problem. And, interestingly, the solution, in essence, lies within the women discriminated against: they need to know their strengths by continuous introspection and prepare themselves mentally to face even the worst moments in life and retain their innocence in all situations and at all cost. Alexander Pope, the famous 18th century English poet, succinctly puts this phenomenon as “Know thyself” in one of his universally remembered poems. Clearly, Hoor has risen in life owing to self-knowledge and recognition of her strength as a woman through continuous soul searching. If other women measure knee-high to Hoor in terms of introspection, self-knowledge, courage, mental toughness and strength (albeit a Herculean task in the context of our social milieu) their woes would not take long to vanish.

 6. Whiter than White is the superb exhibition of J. J. Baloch’s art of characterisation. He has used a couple of popular literary techniques to reach the innermost recesses of his characters. One can literally feel the heroine walking across the pages of the novel, situation after situation. Soliloquy is the principal literary technique that the novelist has used to put the inner selves of his character in front of the reader. Hoor’s soliloquies lay bare, shade by shade and layer by layer, the hypocrisies that afflict our society and its “man-made system”, as the novelist puts it frequently. This is reminiscent of Hamlet’s famous soliloquies: Hoor and Hamlet bear striking resemblance in that. Symbolism is the other literary technique that the novelist has employed for portrayal of his characters. The title of the novel, for example, symbolises innocence, flawlessness and perfection. It explains all that Hoor stands for, as Jibraan Khan explains: “Whiter than White is an English idiom or idiomatic expression which is used as an adjective and which means innocent, clean, flawless, perfect and pure.”  This symbol looms large all over the novel. In another context, the jail doctor says “I believe and have studied that more than 60% of inmates who are sent to jail are whiter than white and are victimised by our own follies.” Even lesser characters such as Meeral, the villain, and Rohi, the rich and powerful lady whom Hoor befriends during short sojourn of the former in jail and who orchestrates Hoor’s early exit from jail receive quite a bit of J J Baloch’s attention in terms of characterisation. 

7. All in all, Whiter than White is J. J. Baloch’s magnum opus that not only portrays the plight and pain of the disadvantaged woman of the Pakistan of our times but also suggests a way forward to her out of this apparent impasse. And it may well be a great idea to render the novel into a film, to get J J Baloch’s message far and wide. 

The writer is a graduate of Warwick Business School and currently, serves in the Federal Investigation Agency. He can be reached at

Use of Biometric Technology in Policing

J. J. Baloch


The use of biometric technology in policing is gaining greater currency worldwide in the 21st century. Though the biometrics, unlike forensics which is a new entry in law enforcement and investigation domains, is the oldest science of criminal identification starting from the “foot-tracking” techniques of suspects and offenders from time immemorial, yet its new miracles have left many detectives rolling their eyes in disbelief. For making our careers the success stories, we, the police officers, should learn to master the understanding and use of biometric tools and keep up with technological advances in this very challenging area of our professional work of crime prevention and detection.

What is Biometrics and How it Plays in Policing?

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, biometrics means “to measure life, and that is what modern biometric devices do: they measure and analyse an individual’s characteristics, ranging from physical traits – friction ridge patterns on hands, iris and facial structure, for example – to behaviour-related characteristics, such as voice dynamics and handwriting. These devices typically consist of a sensor that scans the targeted characteristic, software that converts scanned data into digital form, and a database that stores biometric data for comparisons. A biometric check can identify an individual or verify identity.”

Judging humans through their acts is as old as humans themselves. Making development, progress, and advancement by working and struggling is the fundamental characteristic of human civilization that history and its associated sciences like sociology and anthropology claim to have recorded are born out of what we have come to know as human habits and habitations. These habits and habitations do not vary in varieties but they do differ in their combinations and equation present in every individual person. For example, all humans take birth, speak, understand, get happy, feel pain, eat, drink, sleep, live in families, learn the culture of their societies, grow and die but they all do all these things for different reasons, on different occasions and under different conditions. That is called their unique experience with unique signatures even if they are in billions.

Every individual is different; his or her fingerprints are different, his or her facial features vary; his or her body weight, pulse movement, heartbeat, walking picture, DNA structure, body type, and everything physical do have varying features. Even twins are not the same, though they have similarities as humans. It is the reasons why these distinctive individual habits help detective analysts find truth in the differences prevalent and inherent among the human creatures of Habit. Here what humans are mattered less but what is important is exactly what you do because it is where law enforcement biometrics comes in.

There are certain ways to measure the individual habits. These ways include a signature, typing, writing, reading, vein, diction, tone, voice patterns recognition and also other body parts moments and physical variation recognitions. These are used to analyse and paint a clear picture of an individual. In police, we use these individual physical variations to identify the suspects.


The Reality Change Policing

The biometric process of understanding human physical variations started for the first time in 1891 when fingerprints were used to classify inmates in USA and UK. Afterwards, many law enforcement and investigative agencies adopted the biometric methods of measuring the physical existence of humans. When police got involved in human biometrics and technology began to develop with Godspeed, the reality change policing into play for managing the reality of change through technological interventions by the police to establish the truths of their doubts and suspicions.

Traditional Biometrics

The biometric technologies in use of police evolved gradually and hand to hand with the technology as well as criminal innovations. The traditional biometrics involved different early methods of individual identifications. For example: “Gait Analysis” which tried to discover as to how people walk-foot tracking, talk-voice formations and tones, express both oral and written, behave-habits etc. Another method included “Olfactory Analysis” which employs the sense of smell to understand body odour that is different in every individual body and helps identify the person. Research confirms that body odour remains constant throughout individual life and its results are claimed to have been 85% accurate. “Visage Analysis” or facial feature analysis is the third traditional method used to identify persons. Though facial recognition has had some problems owing to some differences in ‘poses’, ‘resolution’ and ‘wardrobe’ changes that potentially affect the accuracy of facial identifications, yet these minor issues have been overcome by the scientists due to the advances in digital technology and improvements in existing systems over the years.


New Biometrics of Facial Recognitions  

The photo identities in modern times have added new dimensions of facial recognition in the field of biometrics. Many law enforcement and intelligence agencies have developed large databases criminal and suspect faces and acquired digital facial readers. For example, FBI created the facial database in 2011 which is called “FBI Biometric Centre of Excellence”.  This large database is now being used by local police departments for multiple purposes. Facebook, Google, Twitter and many other social media networks are the largest FBI sources facial data, perfecting agency’s search for missing faces. The claims of social media privacy, to a many, are nothing more than merely a misnomer. It is also a fact that incoming ten to fifteen years facial recognition is more likely to attain perfection in identification capacity. Many optimists are of the view that use of biometrics in policing will bring a number of benefits in terms of controlling crime and improving security which is listed as follows:

§  Terrorist Threat Assessment: Biometrics will be highly useful in spotting terrorist threat in advance of the happening of the untoward terrorist incident. Thus, it will help in the prevention of terrorism and violence in the society.

§  Lie-detection: Many security agents use lie-detecting robots which will broaden security services through the use of biometric sensors and scanners. These lie-detecting robots, which are called “Automated Virtual Agents for Truth Assessment in Real Time”, are being widely used at borders and airports. Moreover, Softwares have been developed to detect lies from eye movements. Such software using robots with sensors can pick up physiological signs which help in detecting that a person is lying. President Trump’s executive order signed in January 2017 authorise American Law enforcement agencies to ensure biometric exit-entry screening for the people travelling to the USA.

§  DNA Shaming: DNA shaming is a process of using someone’s DNA to link him or her to a crime and hence bring shame for the wrongdoer or violator; thus a policing subject. For example, “Face of Litter” was an advertising campaign which went viral on social media in 2015. Hong Kong sponsored it in partnership with advertising agencies such as Ogilvy and Parabon’s Nanolabs. Their defence department became part of this campaign in which technology had been used to identify physical characteristics of s litterbug. This technology used DNA to develop images in public places to shame the litterbug. DNA combined with Passive entry-exit technology was used to match data.

§  Heartbeat Identification: Many experts of biometrics have been using human heartbeat for identification. Heartbeat is the more individualized form of human identification than the other biometric methods such as facial, Iris, ear prints, vein patterns and body odour. Many research studies recommend preserving and protecting electronic health records of heartbeats as a way of biometric identification. Not that much absolute, the heartbeats present the unique signature of every individual identity. US Army and Police are using this technology for identifying individuals through their heartbeats as an effective biometric tool.

§  Body-worn Camera: Body-worn cameras of police officers, when connected with advanced biometrics, can help in taking pictures and in transmitting such pictures to the central database for the record. Police officers roam the streets and get their body-worn cameras on when they interact with people in real time situations. In this way, they keep the record of so many individuals which are stored in the central database and further used for record and identification whenever so required.  Police scan the faces live as they scan licence plates. “In the long run, some futurists predict that real-time Iris recognitions could replace facial recognition as a key identification mechanism.”

§  Solving Missing Person Cases: Many techs and gear experts in policing are of the firm opinion that biometric methods of identification have been instrumental in solving the missing person cases. DNA electronics are used to compare and to match DNA indexes with DNA profiles of suspects and victims for using kinship analysis signatures that help identify missing persons. FBI extensively uses kinship software for tracing missing persons.

§   Reducing the Risk of Undercover Agents: The job of undercover agents has become riskier and trickier in times of high threats to law enforcement and intelligence personnel in the post 9/11 world of terrorism and hate crimes. Ensuring privacy and identity security of undercover officers through anonymity in the age of information anarchy are, indeed, become the daunting challenge. This helps undercover agents go undetected in achieving their desired targets.

§  Source of Criminal Evidence: Biometrics adoption is the very effective source of collecting reliable and provable evidence against criminals. Many countries have amended their laws to accommodate the biometric source of evidence as the most authentic way of evidence to be used in criminal investigations and as the most productive tool of crime fighting. Moreover, biometric methods are easier, cheaper, admissible and detective friendly means to make smart, scientific and systematic evidence management of criminal investigations.


The biometric advances have emerged as the future policing currency in many developing and developed countries. Their detective and preventive potential have been widely recognised as very cost-effective and reliable crime-fighting tools which are expanding their wings in law enforcement domain. This is more likely to grow in future and we should adopt it fully in Pakistan.

The Writer is a novelist and Criminal Justice Analyst. 

Phenol-typing: A New DNA Technique for Criminal Investigations

J. J. Baloch


Forensics, which stands for application of science to legal domain, claims to have reached the new frontiers of truth in sifting the grass of quilt from the grain of innocence during the process of criminal investigations. Phenol-typing helps not only to trace the suspects but also saves the innocent. We are still struggling to attain the stage of DNA profiling in Pakistan. Given the expansion, quality and complexity of police investigations as well as the magnitude, nature and extent of crime incidents in Pakistan, our policymakers should give a serious thought to investing and adopting this new, cost-effective and fool-proof technique of crime investigations.

This infant area of DNA Phenol-typing enables forensic lab technicians to generate a computer picture of the suspect through the speck of skin or fragment of hair collected from the scene of the crime. This technique is quite useful in reaching and identifying a suspect without his or her physical appearance and without any description of the eyewitnesses. Phenol-typing is in contrast with DNA profiling or fingerprinting which help find out the match of DNA sample markers, collected from the scene of the crime, with the known individuals.

It is, indeed, an investigative tool rather than a source of evidence that could be used in a trial. “When a suspect identified through phenol typing comes to court, conventional DNA fingerprinting will be used to show an exact match between their DNA and a sample from the crime scene.”

Leister University, UK, Crime Lab is said to have developed this technique of genetic fingerprinting which has led to the conviction of thousands of murderers, rapists and other offenders by linking their DNA to blood, semen, saliva and skin samples. This new technology examines “a special group of DNA sequences that vary enormously between individuals and are not related to physical appearance.” In Pakistan, medical universities should prioritise the crime medicines such as DNA forensic for assisting our police departments in the area of medico-legal evidence.


Not only our universities could do better if so directed and so financed to launch the projects on the lines of developed countries to facilitate their criminal justice institutions for building their capacity to keep peace and ensure justice for every Tom Dick and Harry but also private entrepreneurs may be encouraged to join hands of the law enforcement for the collective benefit of the society as well as for the profits of their companies as it is being done elsewhere. This is not something Greek to commercial companies worldwide to build their products on a large base of academic research into the genetic variations that make individuals look different. “The currency of this work is the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP). Each SNP (pronounced “snip”) is a change in a single chemical “letter” within the three billion letters of the human genome, which leads to a difference in the individual’s characteristics — his or her phenotype. The effect of one SNP is usually small; the challenge through genetic studies is to construct a panel of many SNPs that collectively determine a feature such as an eye colour,” so claims Clive Cookson.

In terms of SNPs UK launched a huge project named “Twins UK” in 1992. Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, Tim Spector, at King’s College, London championed this project. This long-term study project included 12, 000 identical as well as non-identical twins produced ample data about genetic factors affecting health and appearance of the understudy twins in relation to the environment they were subjected. Professor Tim calls his Twin samples as “the most investigated people on the planet”. The professor goes on stating: “We know, for example, that eye colour is almost 100 percent heritable, while freckles and moles are 70 percent heritable. Most facial features such as earlobes and creases on the ears are heritable to a considerable extent.”

However, further research is expected to provide stronger links with facial shape and give an indication of age by tracking “epigenetic” changes in DNA as people grow older. “In the long run, phenol typing could transform the investigation of serious crimes in which the offender leaves a microscopic trace of his or her body fluids or tissues but DNA fingerprinting provides no match. It would be the equivalent of having a physical description from a perfectly reliable witness.”

Clive Cookson (2015) maintains: “In January 2011 Candara Alston and her three-year-old daughter Malaysia were murdered at home in Columbia, South Carolina. This month, on the fourth anniversary of the still-unsolved double homicide, Columbia Police put out an unusual picture profile of the suspect… A computer-generated image of a suspect in the Candara Alston murder case is believed to be the first image in forensic history published entirely on the basis of a DNA sample”.


On the contrary, Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto murder case exposed our investigation loopholes and grey areas. Had our police been able to make the proper use of DNA forensics, no actual culprit could have been gone scot-free nor yet would any innocent police officer have been either incriminated or convicted. The investigation and prosecution of this case have been a great eye-opener for all of us where we can’t ensure justice even to our own investigators who are supposed to ensure justice to the aggrieved family. But had this case been investigated employing the phenol-typing there would not have been such injustices to anyone. The country’s security landscape and the proxy war environment are suggestive to the fact that we should be alive to the fact of the likelihood of such incidents in future and hence be prepared not to repeat the sheer show of incompetence. Those who do not learn from history, they are sure to remain in history and are bound to become history.

Columbia and Toronto Police departments have begun to use this technique of investigation for including or eliminating suspects. The seasoned detectives who have long experience of dealing with forensic evidence seem to be very optimistic about the utility of this scientific discovery in establishing the truth of the cold-blooded and blind cases of murder, rape, and terrorism. In Pakistan, we do have dedicated and devoted police officers who may be encouraged and incentivised to embark upon building their capacities for delivering better public service.

In partnership with many police departments in UK, USA, Canada, Germany, China, and Australia, many companies are making investments and advertisements for the commercialization of this new technique of investigation which despite it’s being a tiny part of blood can storm police to reach bigger leads in tracing the culprits and in solving the cases with authenticity and perfection. Pakistan Police should learn and pick up before it is too late. Countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Brazil have made remarkable advances in scientific investigations.

“When you have a couple of companies willing to take the time and spend the money developing products, it shows that the field is ready to move into practice,” says Jenifer Smith, a forensic science professor at Penn State University, who is embarking on a project to exploit next-generation DNA sequencing in criminal investigations.


“Ancestry particularly interests the police,” Many forensic companies now claim that they can tell police where the mother or father comes from or which racial origin a particular suspect hails from. In this way, the phenol-typing technology moves DNA to the forefront of the investigation, while DNA profiling has been the bread and butter of forensic companies in the past. However, many argue that if we can remove a large number of people from the investigation that saves a lot of time and resources. This is truer beyond any iota of doubt as the Phenol-typing can save the huge amounts otherwise spends of snapshots, each costing more than 5000 US dollars.

In Pakistan, we are in the initial stage of adopting the police technology for crime prevention and detection. Many police veterans have raised the voices to transform our archaic methods of investigations to the newer ones because providing the justice and peace to both the accused as well as the innocent is the prime contractual duty of our mother state. Therefore, it is prime time for us to go for scientification of our criminal investigation and criminal justice system by investing in public safety as well as justice delivery systems as the very legitimacy of our statehood hinges on its commitment and capacity to keep the promise of protecting the life, property, and liberty of the citizens of Pakistan.

For this end in view, we badly need to build research centres for crime sciences throughout our public as well as private educational centres so that we can be able to do away with our old-fashioned system of investigations and adjudications. For assigning priority to this clarion call, our policymakers should start with establishing a ministry for criminal justice policy with exclusive mandate to control crime, disorder, and injustices which are allegedly being provided by the very institutions of order and justice in our country. Such exclusive ministry should be autonomous and resourceful in making and enforcing its policies aimed at upholding the rule of law quite immune from political engineering and bureaucratic meddling and completely specified for specialized job of the core departments of criminal justice including police, prosecution, judiciary and prisons.

The departments of crime science should be staffed with qualified researchers who can collect data, analyse it, understand the crime patterns, trends, and series and comes up with their scientific and evidence-based policy solutions. Only establishing the forensic labs as having been done by our different police departments including Punjab Police, Sindh Police, KP Police, FIA, National Forensic Science Authority and the like without staffing them with well-qualified researchers and lab technicians will not do. The much-neglected part of all these newly established forensic establishments is the absence of proper DNA units with all resources and skilled staff. At our premier law enforcement training facility, National Police Academy, we are yet to find a well-qualified instructor for forensic medicine, what to talk of DNA profiling or DNA phenol-typing.

There is hardly any better welfare of the society, that the state is expected to guarantee, than the peace and justice which reads through each and every page of the supreme law of the land-the constitution.

The Writer is a Novelist and a Criminal Justice Analyst….

Future Trends in Policing




Policing future societies appears to be the taxing one because it is to deal with the dark power phenomenon in the society. From conventional crimes to terrorism and its multiple forms ranging from cyber to biological, postmodern police have to be scientific and high-tech; cops have to discover innovative strategies and policing technologies and have to resolve the issues of controversies surrounding the application of such technologies in terms of civil liberties.

“Furthermore, police chiefs should approach controversial strategies not merely as a process of educating the public about the police department’s point of view, but also as a genuine effort to obtain community input, keep an open mind, and try to ensure that police strategy have public support”.

For example, predictive policing is sometimes misinterpreted as a strategy that could target individuals before they have committed a crime. “Law enforcement should pay attention to the diversity of things that get called predictive policing,” explained University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Professor Jeffrey Brantingham. “We need to be specific about what we are talking about when we use the term” when we apply it to prevent crimes before they take place.

The issues which are likely to receive public attention in the future relate to the use of technology as a law enforcement tool. The authors of tech and gear, a blog, refer to many technologies, mostly relating to video tapping by the police, which could cause legal disasters and need to be used with great care and caution.

Similar is true for police use of discretion and force while dealing with public issues. In recent years, modern societies have witnessed the rapid growth of terrorist organisations and their use of technology in crime. As a result, many democracies have gone for new anti-terrorism legislation giving more powers of stop and search to police departments of many countries and have sanctioned the establishment of special courts for the trial of the cases of terrorism. The use of unbridled powers by the police for preventing terror has, in many cases, promoted it.

As a result, target attacks on police officers especially in Pakistan have become a serious concern for police departments. From Karachi to Quetta many police officers have lost their lives in targeted attacks by terrorist’s organisation mainly Da’aish or Islamic state. The terrorists have spared no place including police stations and training institutions. This trend of killing police officers, many fear, is likely to gain momentum in future when 17000 people of alleged and suspected Pakistani origin who have reportedly gone missing to fight in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for ISIS and Taliban will return back once the war there gets slower or over. As a result of the recent rise in anti-police sentiment, cops need to stay vigilant now more than ever before and be prepared for targeted attacks.

In an environment charged with threats, replica firearms are a real danger to both police and the public at large. They have been at the centre of a number of high-profile officer-involved shootings, close calls, street crimes, robberies and lockdowns. Even with the passing of laws intended to address the issue, incidents continue to occur in urban centres like Karachi and Lahore at an all-too-frequent rate. This issue gets seriously complicated for police officers when people of Pakistan begin using explosives (pataka) on celebrations like Independence Day, defence day, annual days of celebrations (Eid) sporting events, and important religious days of different sects. This is dangerous because little children get injured very often. This needs the serious attention of the police.

In order to ensure transparency and accountability, police departments are going for certain technological devices to make them a permanent feature of their daily routines. In this regard, the importance of body cams has increased to a great extent especially in misconduct investigations. Camera and videotape is a better defence for a cop than his or her gun. Gun saves us against the criminals but body cams from the public which in Pakistan is very problematic and negative about police, and hence always in quest of finding faults with the police and fix them through exaggerated complaints very often. Besides body cams, police departments in UK, USA, Canada and many other countries are thinking the use of drones in the police. Some have also begun.

As the use of video as a rebuttal to claims of officer misconduct continues to grow, it’s becoming more and more apparent that a camera (or cameras) can be the most vital tool a cop can have on patrol and present video evidence as a counter to serious allegations”.

Likewise, the use of Apps in policing is likely to increase. In our increasingly connected digital age, criminals are much more likely to leave a trail than ever before. The cops are now finding new avenues – such as Spotify and Instagram – to crack their cases and make arrests. Social media is emerging a new avenue for collecting of evidence, connecting with communities, gathering open source intelligence, and tracing the blind cases as our Islamabad police did in many such cases including that of Haji Razaque murder case in a guest house in Islamabad.


Police departments have achieved these goals in large part by deploying an endless array of new strategies and new technologies, such as: Community policing, Problem-oriented policing, Comp-Stat,  Hot spots policing, Crime mapping, Predictive analytics, Intelligence-led policing, Closed-circuit video cameras, dash cams, and body cameras, Automated license plate readers, Gunshot detection systems, Wireless transmission of nearly any type of data imaginable, GPS devices to track suspects, Sharing of information, Regional task forces to address gun crime, drug crime, and other issues, Partnerships with the community, the private sector, and corporations/businesses, and  Social media.

Another very interesting trend in making is avoidance of using force even when it is required by law to use. There have been several incidents in recent months during which we have seen cops succumb to what we have come to call ‘deadly hesitation’ — failing to do what is necessary to save themselves from potentially fatal injuries. They are unnecessarily putting themselves in danger for fear of what may happen after the incident. Islamabad police during dharnas have observed very careful restraint to use force to their own peril but those who used it unplanned got under fire in model town case Lahore and those who failed to do in Benazir murder case get 17 years imprisonment sentence. Many have lost jobs and others got to jail and rest is very ambivalent.

Today, police departments are far more complex than they were a generation or two ago. They still respond to calls for service, and they still investigate crimes, but that is where the similarities end. At the most fundamental level, police have expanded their mission, taking on the goal of preventing crime and reducing crime rates, rather than merely responding after crimes are committed. Today’s best police departments are always looking for ways to be proactive instead of reactive.

There is no doubt that this overall trend—police agencies expanding their mission and using new strategies and technologies in a proactive way to achieve success—will continue. In fact, the trend almost certainly will accelerate in coming years.

It is difficult to predict the exact outcomes of all these changes because the field of policing is just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible. And there are major unknown factors always involved in policing. For example, the vast network of cameras in most cities and towns, combined with advances in facial recognition software and license plate readers, could eventually make it almost impossible for wanted criminals to “hide in plain sight.” In fact, there are existing examples of terrorist suspects being quickly identified and apprehended because their images were captured by video cameras. This example of Charring Cross Lahore investigations is well known in which a facilitator has been identified through CCTV footage.


However, there are many things the police department and criminal justice system in our country would have to be keen to resolve is the determination of the evidentiary value of such evidence. The courts have not yet weighed in on whether these combinations of technology may be limited in order to avoid violations of constitutionally protected civil liberties or privacy rights. Governments may find that police will not be allowed to use every type of technology simply because it is available.

And in some areas, changes are simply too recent to have produced any consensus in policing about best approaches and policies. For example, cybercrime is clearly a growing threat that must be dealt with, and law enforcement agencies and private institutions such as banks have been working to get a handle on measures to prevent and investigate these crimes. But with a number of exceptions, most local police departments have not yet found the roles that they will play in fighting cybercrime. Therefore, local police need to be prepared for all this to happen very soon.

What will matter the most in trending process of future policing in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world the “type of new officers” we are getting in Police Service of Pakistan. Today’s police leaders should pay more attention to the question of how they develop the leaders of tomorrow. We need more than merely cutting crime and securing lucrative field postings but rather focus on developing better training regimes to produce the proud and confident lot of officers who should never feel apologetic on their being police officers.

For 70 years or more, police departments across Pakistan have been recognizing the importance of community policing, public trust, accountability, and transparency in nearly everything they do. Today, these concepts have not become ingrained in most police departments in Pakistan as they are in developed countries and as they should be in Pakistan; community policing and public trust are part of the DNA of policing in the West but in Pakistan, it has to go a long way.

The idea of legitimacy” and “procedural justice” in policing will receive many attentions of all segments of the society. Legitimacy and procedural justice sometimes are seen as a new, high-powered version of community policing. There is no turning back from these principles of public trust, community policing, and legitimacy in policing. Today’s police executives understand that they must earn the trust of their community every day. This is the fact that Police officers and chiefs in Pakistan admit with all honest and are highly sensitized with but they have to admit the existing trust-deficit between the community and the police in Pakistan and police organisations have to address this issue with seriousness and urgency.

Thus, to the extent that society is changing and technology is advancing, and police are innovating either by design or by default. Public expect their respective police more responsive, accountable, responsible, and proactive than they have been ever before. Pakistan is no exception to all these phenomena and we must wake up to this call before we become history.

Crime and Punishment

J. J. Baloch


Though the origins of crime and punishment are linked with the origins of the statehood yet the punishment for wrongdoing is tied with human origin on earth. The evolutionary phases of what is wrong and what is right for humans as thinking social animals described by culture, religion and state. From deviance down to sin and crime, wrongdoings have been punished with different sanctions. However, the system of formalised punishment has been birthed by the state.

In primitive societies where the existence of religion as a fear factor behind expected behaviours had been obscure the human common sense and rational thinking can be credited as the sole force behind declaring certain acts as wrong invoking certain punishments. The anthropologists and sociologists are not sure as to when exactly this started at a certain point of time yet they maintain that the human society has never been without fundamental concepts of expected behaviours.


The state of nature as described by Hobbes, Locke, and Roseau as a pre-social and pre-political condition of human civilisation is said to have followed certain unwritten rules called customs and norms. The customs and norms have always regulated human behaviour and have greatly influenced human thinking on human living. It is interesting to note that some unwritten customs have been more effective than modern legal codes on both the adoption as well as the implementation by their respective communities.

The unwritten codes have been effective because of many reasons. The first and the foremost force behind acceptance of such unwritten rules have been the strong sense of ownership of concerned communities who evolved and adopted those unwritten rules. Secondly, ownership of such customs by the communities was based on the basic premise that such rules were made by those communities adopting and implementing them. Thirdly, the unwritten customs had behind the driver of cultural moralism which was the way of life of the people in the state of nature as discussed in the political theory of social contract.


It was perhaps the reason why the French Enlightenment philosopher JJ Roseau always idealised the natural societies by painting the state of nature or pre-state societies as ideal conditions of human civilisations. Unlike Hobbes who believed that the human life in the state of nature was miserable and anarchic, a condition which underlined the need of formalised social institution of the state, JJ Roseau maintained that early societies relied on unwritten customs that often were more rigid than the written rules and were followed voluntarily rather than they were enforced by legal sanctions but the state was created for developing a system of progress, development, and advancement in an organised and systematic way.

The unwritten rules are more rigid and uncompromising and people in many cultures voluntarily and willingly follow them as a part and parcel of their very identity, name, fame, survival and success. In some cultures, public behaviour is very determined and disciplined so much so that that strictly follow when to stand, sit, eat, sleep etc. “There is little argument that the earliest laws were derived from folk customs, evolving from loose but unquestionable rule to fixed but more specific practices. Until relatively recently, many anthropologists scoffed at the notion of legal life in primitive cultures but instead saw ‘custom as the king’.” Law has always existed in one form or another. Without rules to maintain order and to make progress, anarchy threatens the very existence of a community.

Therefore, “one of the most intriguing questions facing anthropologists, criminologists, sociologists, and other scholars of governance and justice systems as to how the earliest pre-literate societies managed to not only survive but also maintain peace and order without written law codes.”( Michel P. Roth-2010)

In addition to human culture, the ideas of Godhood as supernatural powers in the forms of different religions have played a leading role in the development of what we understand criminal justice system in modern terminology. The punishment has been the main instrument for religions to inspire fear in people. However, greed for rewards such as paradise has also tempted many for following the line of religious doctrines. Wrongful acts are declared sins which are the individual acts for which the doer is personally responsible to God.

“When the members of a society believe that consequences of a sinful act will spread to the entire group, rather than affecting just the sinner, sins become crimes.” Any breach of custom or injunction would invoke the wrath of their gods against the breaching individual his community. The responsibility and punishment were collective in nature. The highly punishable acts have been profanity, blasphemy, and sacrileges while the punishments of dunking, stoning, and whipping were used to humiliate the sinners. Therefore, it goes without saying that the religious injunctions have been a very impactful influence in controlling human behaviour and disciplining them.

The birth of state paved the way for the dawn of the written laws. The state was believed to be the divine institution -the idea of statehood which was challenged by many Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle but was dumped by Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher who maintained that state was human, not a divine institution. Further JJ Roseau challenged the all kinds of rulerships by advocating for popular sovereignty in his concept of ‘General Will’ which maintained that right to rule rests with the people and social contract between the state and communities was not absolute but rather conditional. People agreed to obey laws and pay taxes in exchange for their protection of life, property, and civil liberties.

The theory of General Will sparked revolutions for civil liberties. The most important following the theory was French Revolution and American war of independence during the second half of the 18th century. The evolution of the state came with the concept of citizenship. In addition, the concept of individual property rights made individuals the distinct social entities with economic powers. Before this, all property in the empire belonged to kings who had sole wish to allow to any subject who had no rights but slaves.

Here laws were made to clear the rights and duties of all the signatories of the social contract including the state and its citizenry. From here was born the concept of constitutions and the modern criminal justice system comprising police, court and prisons came into shape during the revolutionary times of the last quarter of the 18th century.

The Bill of Rights, the American Constitution and many other constitutional documents came into existence describing the nature and functions of the state underlying the rights and duties of the citizenry. However, E. Adamson Hoebel in his study of primitive law maintains that the code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian code of ancient Mesopotamia and oldest deciphered written document with significant length in the world dating back to 1754 BC.

The writing and codification of law especially constitutional, penal, and criminal defined certain acts as crimes punishable under the penal codes. In Eighteenth-century England the most serious secular crime was treason and the most serious religious offence was sacrilege. But today human rights violations are considered as the serious crimes against the laws and values of postmodern culture is based on civil liberties. In primitive times humans saw threats to their communities more seriously than the threats to the states which came to limelight during the middle ages and which still continues to struggle against the modern human rights discourse of the world without borders.

State functions through its laws and the source of ancient laws were the kings and of modern law the people: for the people, of the people, and by the people. Crime is what the law says it is, to put it very simply. not every violation of the law is the crime nor yet it is a sin or deviance. However, crime is classified in six major categories i.e. violent crime, property crime, public order crime, white collar crime, organised crime and cybercrime. Punishment for these types of crimes varies from restitution, fines, probation, imprisonment, and death sentence.

Therefore, the criminal justice system has existed in human society in one or another form and has undergone different phases of evolution. Criminal justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts.

Today Pakistan stands with criminal justice troika -three parallel justice systems: Jirga -a culture model, Shariah – religious model, and criminal justice -rule of law model. Ultimately, it makes us believe that we are witnessing anarchy and violence in our society because we are left with neither of these three systems intact but function in stark conflict.

We need to transform our conflict model into a consensus model where we should not have any difference on core values of crime and punishment.

The Writer is Policing Educator and Practitioner …







The Politics of Counterterrorism


J.J. Baloch 


The politics of counterterrorism refers to public policy narrative in the backdrop the coming into play of terrorism and extremism worldwide. Very flabbergasting remains the fact that though many politicians and political parties wish to use counterterrorism as a tool to cultivate patriotism, national unity, and social solidarity among pluralistic populations with disparate interests, yet its militarization is leading source of extremism and terrorism in many parts of the world.

Politicians always tend to cash fears where they fail to buy loyalties comfortably. Politics is the science of liberty, many scholars agree. While many go still deeper in defining politics as the science of the power structure of the society and power relations therein. There are still others who take politics nothing more than merely a business. To me, politics seems to be a fear play and a public bargain for security and protection of what they have with those whom public allows spaces to penetrate even in their privacy in the name of ensuring social order.

The politics of counterterrorism is born out of the politics frightening public from unknown fears and presenting political power wielders as the saviours of their nation in democratically produced autocratic regimes like that of Hitler and many others without military uniform in the western world coming from the descent of Eisenhower down to George W. Bush and now Trump. The British leaders like that of Tony Blair, who was heartedly inspired by the Machiavellian realism of power politics and who began with his slogan of being ‘tough on crime’ sowed the seeds of ‘insecurity’ among the public to play with their fear sensitivities for his hunting of popular votes. From politics of crime and politics of law and order as Robert Reiner, a professor of policing at London School of Economics puts it, the British politicians like that of Americans have found a befitting excuse to legitimize their extra-constitutional conduct while dealing with the fundamental rights of their minorities, especially Muslims.


Politics of counterterrorism allows large powers to politicians and law enforcement agencies like police and paramilitary forces which are the cause of concern for libertarians and human rights activists who think democracies like UK and USA are turning to be authoritarian by gaining more and more powers in the guise of countering terrorism. To them, this is alarming.

Such powers to fix human rights further justify the governments to come up with conservative and strict policies for their minorities as UK and USA are doing very recklessly against their Muslim populations. Muslims populations in both countries have begun to feel that they are taken as a threat to the social order of the societies where they are living. These feelings of being discriminated are causing their disconnectedness with mainstream populations. As a result, Muslim populations of UK in particular while that of USA, in general, are alienated and segregated and face many kinds of discrimination on the basis of religion and race.

Basing on the need to fight terrorism, the counterterrorism policies of UK and USA have been shaped by their preconceived notions that all Muslims are terrorists. So much so that Donald Trump wants to expel every Muslim from his country as Spain had done some centuries back. Mr Trump is very much clear in that those who don’t like his policies should go back to the countries of their origin.

Islam is the fast-growing religion of the world. It is a great source of alarm for many leaders in the West including America that in 2050 world’s 70% population will be Muslim due to the rate of conversions and rate of birth. This worries the West a lot. Now in America and in many European countries governments are adventuring with new birth policies wherein mothers are offered incentives to bear children, failing which they will be reduced to minorities.

The incentives of the government in place but the Western non-Muslim women are not fancied with the idea of bearing children. Governments like that of USA have also created homes for the nurturing of children and have offered mothers to go even for artificial babies. However, owing to decline in the social institution of marriage in the West and legalization of gay and lesbian sex it is really very difficult for the Western civilization to ensure conventional marriages and achieve birth rates.

Americans are the strange mixture of opposites. On the one hand they claim freedoms for all, rule of law, human rights, clean and green universe, peaceful world under one world order headed by USA while on the other they do everything criminal ranging from throwing nukes, attacking with drones, using unidentified flying objects, creating laboratory diseases like AIDs, raising the agents of chaos like Taliban and now ISIS. A lot has been written on this and very recently an insider of US government Mr John Perkins has confessed all this.


How the new narrative of the politics of counterterrorism benefit few capitalists and industrialists and how it justifies everything under Machiavellian notion of ‘end justifies the means’ are very well answered by John Perkins, a former economic hit-man who worked for American intelligence agency CIA for 10 years to blackmail foreign leaders into serving US foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American businesses. Perkin has written a book titled “Confessions of an Economic Hit-man” in which he has very honestly listed his works but also has unearthed what others in CIA had been doing.

How the defeats in Vietnam and Iraq have benefited big business in America? The role of Israel as Fortress America in the Middle East, tragic repercussions of the IMF’s Asian Economic Collapse, the current Latin American revolution and its lessons for democracy, U.S. blunders in Tibet, Congo, Lebanon, and Venezuela all are recorded in Perkins New York Times bestseller.

“From the U.S. military in Iraq to infrastructure development in Indonesia, from Peace Corps volunteers in Africa to jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes a conspiracy of corruption that has fueled instability and anti-Americanism around the globe, with consequences reflected in our daily headlines. Having raised the alarm, Perkins passionately addresses how Americans can work to create a more peaceful and stable world for future generations.”

It’s dangerous and inhuman; the politics of counterterrorism is most likely to be very counterproductive. The plant of terrorism grows with the minerals of such politics embodies elements of hatred, intolerance, discrimination and coercion. Perkin is perhaps late and his so-called confessions have nothing to do with global peace except his personal earnings through marathon sale of his book.

The Writer is a policing educator and practitioner