Indonesia's police - has there been reform?
July-September 2016
By: Lenny Hidayat

The National Police introduced a gradual reform program, a “Grand Strategy,” for 2005 to 2025, divided into three phases. The first five years, from 2005 to 2009, were known as the “trust-building” phase; the second phase, from 2010 to 2014, was the “partnership-building” phase; and the current phase, from 2015 to 2025, is the “strive for excellence” phase.

In the first 10 years of the Grand Strategy, the National Police indeed made progress and improved its performance. In 2010, the National Bureaucratic Reform Independent Team examined the implementation of the first phase of the program. Four main areas were assessed: quick wins; the institution; standard operating procedures; and human resources. The team concluded that the National Police scored an average mark of 3.63 (considered “good”).

There clearly were quick wins. There were improvements in the Crime Prevention Unit’s quick response service, and more transparency in issuing driver’s licenses, vehicle registration numbers and vehicle ownership certificates, in conducting investigations, and in police force recruitment. In 2015, the National Police scored 67.23 (category “B”) out of 100 in the Independent Assessment of Bureaucratic Reform Implementation by the Ministry of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform, which is not considered good. The Indonesian government has tried to spur police reform by offering monetary incentives for performance.

All that said, however, most Indonesians still have little faith in the National Police – even though increasing public trust was one of its main reform goals. That goal should have been achieved by 2010, the end of the first phase of bureaucratic reform. This lack of trust stems from, among other things, bad behavior by officers and media exposure of inappropriate and at times illegal conduct by both the institution and its personnel (think of the latest fight with the Corruption Eradication Commission), all of which has further damaged the National Police’s image.

To create a clean police force that is free of corruption, collusion and nepotism, and to improve the quality of police services, as well as to improve the National Police’s capacity and performance, we need to measure specific aspects of police performance and show problematic functions that need improvement.

To answer this challenge, the Police Governance Index (PGI) was created to objectively and comprehensively assess police governance performance. Inspired by the Indonesia Governance Index (IGI), the PGI is an evidence-based policy-making tool that has the capacity to perform as a benchmark to measure institutional achievements and compare institutional performance in an objective, fair and accurate manner. The National Police took the initiative to collaborate with the IGI in late 2014. From February to March 2015, we assessed the performance of 31 provincial police forces, based on seven principles of good governance: competence, responsiveness, behavior, transparency, fairness, effectiveness and accountability. The seven principles were applied to measure the performance of the National Police in reaching reform targets in nine divisions, including the Crime Prevention Unit, Crime Investigation Unit, Traffic Police Unit, Police Intelligence Unit and Human Resources.

Main findings

The results of the index, utilizing 142 indicators, showed that the National Police’s governance performance within provincial commands across Indonesia remains in the “red zone,” with an average score of only 5.7 on a scale of one to 10. This, obviously, shows there is still much work to be done by the police, including by National Police policy makers and supervisors, as well as provincial commands that implement policy at the local level.

Despite a low average score nationally, National Police initiatives to open up and evaluate itself must be recognized. The Police Governance Index is an unprecedented effort to comprehensively evaluate police management. The assessment is also a first in terms of involving a large number of outside parties. Some of the main findings from the assessment showed certain aspects of improvement, which have yet to be taken into account as priorities versus other work functions.

The National Police has two approaches in carrying out its functions: prevention and enforcement. Through prevention, the goal is to maintain law and order and to provide protection and services to the public. Under the enforcement function, the National Police has the authority to conduct enforcement as specified by the law. To date, the enforcement function remains vitally important because prevention remains low. By improving prevention, one could hopefully expect a drop in crime.

Limping law enforcement

According to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Bureau, the top five crime-ridden provinces in Indonesia last year were Jakarta, North Sumatra, South Sumatra, Central Java and West Sumatra. This data correlates with the findings of the PGI. Comprehensively speaking, the lack of police prevention was the main cause of the low PGI scores, but issues of accountability, competence and fairness were also involved.

As a result of the poor performance in accountability, competence and fairness, law enforcement suffers. Look at the low number of cases successfully brought to court: the average number of general crime cases brought to court in 2014 was 56 percent (data from East Nusa Tenggara Province was absent); only 32 percent of special crime cases reached a judge in 2014. For drug-related crimes, fewer than 4,000 of 14,700 cases went to trial.

Is this a result of police investigations being hindered by gender? There remains a large imbalance between the number of male and female investigators. Women only account for 30 percent of investigators in three out of Indonesia’s 34 provincial police forces; the rest are between zero and 10 percent. Increasing the number of female investigators is an important step given the increasing trend of crimes against women, as well as those involving women. According to data from the National Commission on Violence against Women, violence against women, especially sexual-related violence, more than doubled between 2011 and 2013.

Behavior versus accountability

Among the National Police’s seven governance principles, behavior had the highest average score nationally, while competence had the lowest. However, further analysis of the index shows that accountability had the most so-called red marks. So, while behavior scored the highest, its assessment indicators were actually lower than those for accountability, meaning the “number of officers who committed violations.”

We found a number of other interesting aspects that demand special attention. The Traffic Police Unit had the highest score overall, but surveys in 27 provincial police forces found the unit scored lower in integrity than other police divisions. This is peculiar, as integrity is one of the indicators of behavior. This serves as a warning for decision makers within the National Police, as its image and thus public trust is determined by this divide between behavior and accountability in carrying out public services.

Therefore, it is important to understand how these principles are assessed. Data used for the PGI is objective, consisting of a violations and integrity survey (from well-informed sources), both internal and external. In this case, the number of internal respondents was proportionally higher, as we took into consideration National Police initiatives to build a culture of internal evaluation.

Another interesting aspect we found was that the Traffic Police Unit obtained the highest score due to its perceived good behavior in provinces outside of Jakarta. Inside the capital, however, the division scored the lowest, with a score of 4.6 out of 10. Several other divisions in Jakarta also obtained low marks: the Special Crime Investigation Unit (5.9), the Crime Prevention Unit (4.9) and the drugs-related Crime Investigation Unit (4.9). Their low scores were due to allegations of bribery, abuse of power and physical violence.

We also found an interesting phenomenon – police officers who committed violations tended to be transferred to the Crime Prevention Unit, explaining the high number of corresponding violations in that division. When we talk about accountability, we refer to high-integrity behavior that can be cultivated into an esprit de corps within the National Police and translated into a system-based and evidence-based work standard. In this regard, the accountability principle obtained the lowest score, despite only having one basic indicator.

In practice – bearing in mind the institutional characteristics of the National Police that tend to favor fieldwork – management is often neglected. Therefore, attitudes toward and recognition of internal coordination roles and adherence to administrative procedures are often neglected. This is regrettable, as the police chain of command and its immense level of authority require a systematized working culture. We found that the low level of accountability of the provincial police is due to the lack of quality in planning and the absence of a monitoring mechanism and required standing operating procedures, as well as a lack of a sound evaluation and reporting system.

Competence and effectiveness

Another interesting finding from the PGI is that police functions were carried out with only a minimum standard of competence. The competence score of 4.7 was the lowest average score nationally, and none of the police divisions scored above six. The three highest-scoring divisions for this principle were the Police Intelligence Unit (5.4), Human Resources (5.2) and the General Crime Investigation Unit (4.9). The lowest-scoring divisions were the Crime Prevention Unit (4.5), the drugs-related Crime Investigation Unit (4.3) and the Marine Police (2.8).

Analyzing the scores for the competence principle, we found that divisions that suffered low scores were hampered by, among other things, the number of officers exceeding the Personnel and Equipment List; incomplete documentation of certified training; inadequate percentages of facilities (two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles); insufficient compliance with implementing systems and procedures of the National Police Headquarters; and inadequate self-initiated systems and procedures. This finding was in line with the shortcomings of one of the police’s top priority issues to improve upon: human resources.

The National Police also wants to do its part to help President Joko Widodo’s national strategy of Indonesia becoming a maritime power. This will be difficult. The Marine Police had the lowest national average score for competence among all divisions. The Marine Police must address human resources development, as well as facilities and infrastructure development. The ratio between available boats and the amount of water to cover remains extremely imbalanced. Equipped with only aging boats, the Marine Police has to patrol thousands of square miles of water and often is unable to pursue criminals in the open sea. This greatly hampers its ability to maintain law and order on the water and protect Indonesia’s maritime sovereignty.

Given the urgent reform priorities for the National Police, the Police Governance Index highlighted key areas for improvement, and its six main recommendations were adopted, ranging from better human resources to innovative technology. The police force has taken its first steps to making itself a better force – and has an agreed-upon road map to get there.


Lenny Hidayat is a researcher for the Indonesia Governance Index team at the Partnership for Governance Reform.

To read the complete article, please subscribe.
You must be logged in as a Strategic Review subscriber to continue reading. If you are not yet a subscriber, please subscribe to activate your online account to get full online access.

Buy a premium PDF version of this article
Subscribe and get premium access to Strategic Review's content
Please login to leave a comment