Unified agency mooted for cross-border crimes
India should have Integrated Law Enforcement Centres (ILECs) on all its borders on the lines of the United States’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the UK’s Border Agency and the European Union’s Frontex to deal with cross-border crimes including infiltration, terrorism, smuggling of drugs, cattle, fake currency, arms, etc., the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) has recommended to the Centre.
In a detailed report, prepared by IPS officer Santosh Mehra (additional director general – BPRD) and submitted recently to the ministry of home affairs (MHA), it was stated that the ILECs, working inside the existing Integrated Check Posts (ICPs), will have the mandate to register, investigate and dispose of all types of cross-border crimes with jurisdiction clearly defined and coinciding with government regulations with respect to border guarding forces.
They will maintain a wealth of cross-border crime data and process it for short-, medium- and long-term trends. “Various factors affecting border security, such as political, economic, social, technological and legal environments etc. will be monitored. The data will be collated from different stakeholder agencies, mass-and-social-media, as well as cross-border sources,” according to the report, reviewed by HT.
Subsequently, the ILECs will establish a situation room, where on the basis of collected, collated and analysed information from various sources, near real-time situation of the borders will be built up; and on the basis of continuous inflows of information, such situation will be updated. “On the basis of time-series data, the trends of border-crimes in a particular sector of border will be analyzed and utilized for planning routine operations by border guarding forces,” the report said.
It has been recommended that each ILEC can have small self-sustaining investigative units of Customs, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), local police, Anti-Trafficking (Human) Cells, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Special Bureau of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and wildlife wing of ministry of environment, apart from officials from border guarding forces.
Currently, all these agencies work in silos when it comes to border crimes.
“There are different agencies active on (India’s) land borders operating within the silos of their specific mandate striving for agencyspecific micro-level optimization with lesser degree of inter-agencies cooperation, coordination and complementarity. In fact, many a time, inter agencies competition leads to sub-optimal outcome at national level. There are instances of both gaps as well as overlapping in the role, jurisdiction and working of the agencies,” the report said.
Citing examples of the US and Europe, the BPRD pointed out that following the 9/11 attacks, the US underwent the biggest government reorganisation by merging 22 agencies from different departments (equivalent to ministries in India) into Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Similarly, Frontex is the main institutional arrangement for the external border management of the European Union; it covers all border-related threats of the EU. Likewise, the UK Border Agency was formed in 2008 by the merger of Border and Immigration Agency, UK Visas and Port of entry functions of HM Revenue and Customs, to look after all border crimes. Australia and Canada, too, have similar institutions.
Mehra has stated that the ILECs will lead to synergy in efforts of different agencies. “The overall effectiveness of agencies while working in unison is likely to scale up in comparison to the existing situation, where they are working in their respective silos. For example, the powers of interception and electronic surveillance available with IB/RAW etc. can be complemented with the expertise available with NCB, the reach and manpower availability of BSF, the investigative skills and experience of the local police (all available under one roof) to detect and destroy modules focused on narco-terrorism,” the report prepared by him said.
The report recommends preparing a draft act for the implementation of ILECs.
Sameer Patil, fellow at the International Security Studies Programme at Gateway House, said: “India has been lacking synergy when it comes to border security management. The ILECs would be very helpful in bringing all agencies together to tackle the border crimes, like Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) - formed after 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has been a success when it comes to counterterrorism”.