Street Police Patrols and Violence Against Women in Public Spaces: Experimental Evidence from India

This project aims to evaluate a unique street patrolling programme – the SHE Teams, an initiative of the Hyderabad City Police, on the frequency and type of street harassment incidents faced by women as well as the role of police visibility.

Background
The SHE Teams initiative was launched on 24th October 2014 in the city of Hyderabad. It is a policing program directly aimed at addressing women’s safety in public places. Apart from patrolling activities, SHE teams also conduct awareness campaigns to increase citizen’s engagement with the law machinery to prevent street sexual harassment. This project aims to evaluate the effect of this novel policing programme on the frequency and type of street harassment incidents faced by women. Moreover, the project also tries to investigate whether police visibility has any role to play. The research design uses variation in police visibility – undercover versus uniformed police presence, to answer this question.
For this project, the research team along with the Hyderabad City Police identified 350 hotspots where the patrolling intervention took place. The intervention was launched in September 2019 and was in effect for six months. During this intervention, the Hyderabad City Police scaled up the SHE Team programme from nine patrolling teams to 24 teams. Each team is composed of three police officers with at least one female officer.
Approach
This project uses randomized evaluation as a method to answer the aforementioned research questions. A cluster-randomized design was employed where 350 hotspots were randomly allocated to three arms with the following distribution:
• The control arm or Business as usual (150 hotspots): Receives no specialized patrolling;
• Treatment arm I or Undercover SHE Teams (100 hotspots): Receives patrolling by SHE Teams comprised of undercover officers; and
• Treatment arm II or Visible SHE Teams (100 hotspots): Receives patrolling by SHE Teams comprised of officers in Uniform.
Implications
This project seeks to improve proactive behaviour of women by making policing more accessible and reducing street sexual harassment through GBV-targeted policing. Based on the results from the study, the intervention can be improved and scaled beyond Hyderabad, to other parts of the state of Telangana. Results are forthcoming.

Thematic area

Institutions

Project Leads

Nishith Prakash (University of Connecticut), Sofia Amaral (Ifo Institute), Girija Borker (World Bank), Nathan Fiala (University of Connecticut), Anjani Kumar, Maria Micaela Sviatschi (Princeton University)

Location

Delhi NCR (Delhi, Haryana, UP)

Partners

Hyderabad City Police

Status

Ongoing