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Gov’t should immediately address DMP housing crisis

While ordinary people of the country may have a number of reservations about the police force and it abilities to carry out its duties efficiently, and human rights groups may raise concerns about the methods they employ in carrying out their work, it is however quite unacceptable and very troubling that the entire police force, especially the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, suffers from acute housing crisis, be it for accommodation or work purposes. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Saturday, 24,408 police personnel are forced to live in barracks in the absence of housing quarters, and that too by often interchanging beds, as the formal capacity of the barracks is only 14,575. Out of 41 police stations in the city, only 16 are located in newly constructed buildings. The report puts forward some more disturbing statistics. Only 51 out of 258 DMP officers from assistant commissioner to DMP commissioner get quarters, while only 50 out of 224 inspectors, 199 out of 2262 sub-inspectors, sergeants and traffic sergeants, and 73 out of 1,350 assistant sub-inspectors, are assigned quarters in the metropolitan area. According to DMP officials, the DMP can meet about 4 per cent of the total demand for housing of its staff. The report further cites the example of Gulshan police station, where nearly 50 constables huddle together in a tin-shed room in the station. The report indeed paints a very sordid picture of the state in which police personnel live in the city and in effect sheds light on one of the possible reasons why the force is perceived to often fail to carry out its duties to its potential.   
While it is understandable that the government of a developing country like Bangladesh may have constraints in fulfilling its obligations to its employees, if not its citizens, the apparent disparity in the number of police personnel and the available number of housing is however unacceptable and smacks of a great degree of inefficiency and negligence on the part of the authorities, besides the obvious lack of resources. After all, despite the lack of resources, the government has been known to provide wholesale promotions to government officials in numbers surpassing the posts available in government offices, hugely hiking up expenses in the process. Furthermore, media reports down the years have often highlighted a number of areas where government resources, whether it be land, manpower or funds, remain unutilized because of poor planning and implementation. Given such a backdrop, it is quite unbelievable that the government is incapable of even somewhat alleviating the housing crisis of the police.
The government should also understand that such negligence on the part of the authorities encourages underperformance, low motivation, sloth and even corruption on the part of the police. Only a well looked-after police force can look after the law and order requirements of ordinary people. Therefore, the government should explore all possible avenues to address the acute housing crisis of the police force.

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