Since 2011 leaders in the Bangladesh Police force have been working with a team from Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) to design and institutionalize an indicator that encourages swifter and better police investigations. Their hope is to expedite investigations, improve the quality of evidence at trial, reassure victims and their families, reduce the duration of pretrial detention, and help reduce backlog in the courts.

Choosing the best indicator turns out to be complicated - even for such a seemingly simple matter as measuring the “speed” of criminal investigations. One option is an indicator that measures rates of compliance with a standard time limit for investigations; another option is an indicator that tracks incremental changes in the average duration of investigations, no matter what the present baseline is. Each indicator carries risks. Managers in the police need to ensure that the indicator does not discourage investigators from exhaustive efforts to gather reliable evidence. They also need to encourage more timely disposition of each case, not just compliance with the minimum or average rate in the service. Whatever measure is chosen must fit with other pressures, including new forms of accountability that are part of the strategic plan for the future of policing. 

The Harvard team is working with the leaders and researchers in the Bangladesh Police to assess the likely repercussions of introducing an indicator of speed, and also to firm up the administrative processes by which data on the duration of investigations is collected. The resulting indicator is likely to be used at quarterly meetings of the “crime conference,” at which senior investigators review the status of cases, give advice about how to complete them, and improve the training of junior officers. A representative of the Bangladesh Police will present the results of the collaboration so far at the October 2012 workshop on indicators at Harvard. 

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh is exploring a partnership with the HKS Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management to build their understanding of the role of the judiciary in responding to incidents of violence against women. As part of our ongoing learning and support to the Supreme Court, our program is developing our understanding of the various government and community services that a woman may access before coming to court, in order to understand more about the nature of support women seek and the character of cases they bring. As part of this learning, we are pleased to welcome a representative of BRAC to the October 2012 workshop on indicators at Harvard.

Members of the Harvard team also conducted a Workshop on Indicators in Bangladesh together with the Bangladesh Police in Dhaka during late February, 2013.

Our Work in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Supreme Court Registry

Photo credit: Tanvir Hussain, PCJ Research Assistant

Bangladesh Supreme Court Registry

In the Field

Mila Cerecina and Andres Rengifo of PCJ with Bangladesh Police officials

Photo credits:  Andres Rengifo and Mila Cerecina, PCJ

Mila Cerecina, PCJ Program Fellow and Andres Rengifo, PCJ Fellow with Bangladesh Police officials reviewing data from the registers of the Criminal Investigation Division