This article has been written by Priyanka Jain pursuing a Crack California Bar Examination – Test Prep Course from LawSikho and edited by Shashwat Kaushik.

This article has been published by Shashwat Kaushik.


“To put people behind walls or bars and do little or nothing to change them is to win a battle but to lose a war. It’s wrong. It’s stupid. It’s expensive.” …… 

Download Now

Warren Burger (Former Chief Justice of US Supreme Court)

Have you ever thought of the evolving roles of police in our society? The thoughts from former Chief Justice Warren Burger throw light on the need for a shift from a deterrent model to a reformative model of law enforcement.

Over the years, our country has been observing a change in its criminal justice system. The police are a law enforcement agency that sets the criminal law into motion. A shift towards reformation was needed to ensure humanistic treatment of the accused, where the focus is not on inflicting pain but on rehabilitating and reintegrating both the accused and offender within society. The reformative approach focuses on improvement rather than punishment. In this article, we are trying to figure out the implications of a reformative approach to arrest for society.

History of police

Way back in the year 1857, after the “Sepoy Mutiny,” a need was felt by the British officers to secure themselves and their families. So, they brought the Indian Police into existence. Initially, the role of the police was quite narrow; it was restricted only to safeguarding the families of the British. Gradually, after the commencement of the Constitution, its role extended to the protection of society, ensuring peace and maintaining law and order in society. The main task of the police is to arrest the wrongdoer and present him in court. Earlier, this arrest was itself punitive, like using force by carotid hold/choke hold, pulling through the collar, or dragging through the hair, which was brutish.

The Law Commission of India, in its 177th Report on Law Relating to Arrest, has suggested making some changes in the criminal laws to embed harmony between liberty and the societal interest in the maintenance of peace, law and order. It has also suggested some steps to make police accountable for their acts, both executive and welfare.

The Law Commission has suggested that the health, safety, and wellbeing of the arrestee should be the responsibility of the detaining authority. Let us delve deeper into the multifarious purposes that underlie the arrest.

Purpose of arrest

Arrest has been a crucial weapon in the hands of law enforcement agencies for a long time. Arrest is carried out to apprehend the wrong-doer, to create fear in the minds of society, to prevent further crime and to secure the presence of wrong-doer during the trial for fairness. Arrest is also emphasised to protect victims, prevent destruction of evidence, and seek assistance of wrong-doer(s) during investigation

Arrest can be initiated even for suspicion or reason to believe. After arrest, there are several rights of the arrested person, as directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997).

Therefore, the main purpose of arrest is to bring the arrestee before the Hon’ble Court and set the criminal law into motion. And to deliver a message to society that no one is above the law.

Key features of arrest

Traditionally, police are the  first responders to a crime scene. Police respond to offences after their commission. It starts with a visit to the crime scene, followed by a search and seizure and the arrest of the offender. Reactive policing does not do anything to eradicate crime; however, it does deter society from committing crime further.

Key features of arrest are:

  • Response to the scene of crime: Not all crimes are subject to visitation by the police. Only grave crimes, as per the schedule of the Criminal Procedure Law, are subject to police intervention. Police necessarily visit only for cognizable offences.
  • Law enforcement: Whenever a new law comes into existence, the police, in the capacity of the executive, take responsibility for its execution. It becomes vigilant on the first day of the enacted law. It starts looking for the lawbreakers.
  • Keeping an eye on habitual offenders: There are some people who are repeatedly arrested either for the same offence or different offences. Such wrong-doers are called habitual offenders. The police maintain a specific register for such wrong-doers.
  • Deterrence: Traditional policing, as inspired by the colonial era, always acts as a deterrent law enforcement agency, always setting the example of creating fear in the minds of the public.
  • Accountability and liability of police officers: Police officers are responsible for bringing wrong-doers before the Hon’ble Court as well as disrupting peace in their area.
  • Not so effective in stamping out crime: Traditional police do not do anything to reduce the opportunity of commission of crime; they only apprehend the offender after he carries out the offence. Police don’t care about eradicating crime with the help of residents in residential areas and with the help of shopkeepers in commercial areas.
  • Strained relations with the community: Police create fear in the minds of the public that they will severely punish the wrongdoer. Police come to the spot with batons and show anger by face. This makes the public feel uncomfortable while communicating with the police and answering the police’s questions. If police come to anyone’s home even to ask about their well-being it is taken as a factor of fear. Police also misbehave with people to implement coercive actions to get the people to do the way police want from them; for example, during festival season, it rebukes vendors about the placement of their kiosks. It does not set an example of peace-making agency.
  • Bad police image: The image of police in the eyes of the public is the result of various challenges and expectations. There is an ideology of public for police on the one hand and an ideology of police for policing on the other. Being the executive branch of Government, police also execute certain commands of higher officers or politicians that take away the confidence of the public, like mass-firing, use of baton, tear bombs, etc. Other instances are the use of excessive force, custodial death, political interference, lack of independence, inadequate training, and lack of resources, including the non-availability of PCR at times of urgency.

While traditional policing has been reactive, a paradigm shift was needed towards some proactivity. Prof. Herman Goldstein carried out research and proposed a transformative or reformative approach to policing, which is known as Problem Oriented Policing (POP).

Problem oriented policing

This way of policing is different from traditional policing. While traditional policing focuses on crime, Problem Oriented Policing focuses on the problem itself. Anything that causes harm to the citizens is a problem. Problems are created by conditions or situations; instead of carrying out an investigation, police officers must regularly analyse the condition or situation with the help of citizens or NGOs before the commission of a crime or the prior arrest of any wrongdoer. Traditional policing deals with investigation after the crime; Problem Oriented Policing deals with problem analysis. The police have to proactively address the underlying problem so that crime can be stamped out beforehand.

To implement the following model, it was introduced. Have you ever thought about how a structured model like SARA is a paradigm shift to proactive policing.

The SARA Model

This SARA model emerged as a valuable strategy towards a proactive approach. This is a problem-solving method. The SARA model stands for scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. The SARA model is a problem-solving model commonly used in proactive policing to address and solve problems within a community. It provides a systematic and structured approach to problem-solving in the context of community-oriented policing. Here is a list of the required steps:


This is the first step, which involves identifying and defining problems within the community. This may involve assessing patterns of crime, which means how many ways a crime has been committed. For example, theft can be committed as car battery theft, daytime theft, or nighttime theft. Or identifying hotspots of crime.

The police, with the help of the community, NGOs or any volunteer, collect information to understand the problem(s).


Once the problems are assessed and understood, a thorough analysis is conducted, which involves collecting and analysing data and studying trends to predict the future.

It is important to gain an all-round understanding of the problems to develop a strategic plan to nab the offender or reduce the opportunity for crime.


Response means now is the time to do something to reduce the occurrence of crime. Responses can take various forms, like psychological intervention, group counselling, educational programmes, or even traditional methods.

Response is a holistic approach that involves the roles of various stake-holders viz., the community, police, forensic experts, sociologists, and criminologists.


Without a follow up or feedback, everything will be futile. For constant improvement, it is required to march with the pace of time. So, it is important to assess the effectiveness of the implemented measures.

Police, the community and volunteers assess the outcomes to see if they were desired or not. Or how do we refine our measures to suit the needs of society?


Recently, there has been a growing recognition of the need to shift the focus of law enforcement from pure reactivity to proactivity. Many agencies have begun to incorporate the rudiments of community policing, problem- acquainted policing, and the SARA Model (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) to further address the root causes of crime, engage with communities, and take a visionary approach to crime prevention. While reactive policing remains a critical element of law enforcement, it is increasingly seen as part of a larger strategy that also includes prevention, community engagement, and the pursuit of corrective measures. This evolving approach acknowledges the limitations of traditional styles and seeks to promote not only responsibility but also rehabilitation and crime reduction by addressing the morning conditions that foster lawlessness. Moreover, traditional styles of arrest that concentrate on reactive policing have played a significant part in maintaining law and order. Still, as law enforcement agencies adapt to the changing conditions and prospects of their communities, a more holistic approach that encompasses prevention, community engagement, and corrective measures is becoming increasingly important. By balancing reactive policing with visionary strategies, agencies can better address the root causes of crime and work collaboratively with communities to produce safer and more vibrant surroundings for all dwellers.

“Globalised world needs a police, from autocratic reign to liberal administration, from lathi wielding to help the needy, from Khaki wearing to people friendly, imposing penalties to building trust, from division to unity, and from fear to happiness.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here