What is a Police Station?
The police station is a key functional unit in a given territory from where the police perform their tasks of maintenance of law & order, investigation of cases etc. It is responsible for: (i) registration of crimes, (ii) local patrolling, (iii) investigations, (iv) handling of various law and order situations (e.g., demonstrations and strikes), (v) intelligence collection, and (vi) ensuring safety and security in its jurisdiction. A police station may have several police outposts for patrolling and surveillance.
A police station is divided into a number of beats, which are assigned to constables for patrolling, surveillance, collection of intelligence etc. Police stations may be classified as:
- mega or metropolitan city police stations,
- urban police stations, rural police stations and
- other purpose-oriented police stations based on specific policing conditions like
- women’s police stations,
- railway police stations,
- traffic/road accident police stations,
- coastal police stations, and
- specialised police stations like those set up under the crime branch, anti-corruption bureau, intelligence branch etc.
Most citizens are familiar with police stations because they are where FIRs are filed and the criminal justice process is set into motion.
Official definition of Police Station
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, crimes have to be recorded at the police station and the police’s preventive, investigative and law and order work is done from there. Under the CrPC, "police station" is defined as:
“any post or place declared generally or especially by the State Government, to be a police station, and includes any local area specified by the State Government on this behalf”.
The word 'post' used in the definition of 'police station' refers to any place where police officers are stationed. A police post is distinct from the police station because ‘police posts’ are set up under police stations, to enable the police to have greater and speedier reach and for the public to gain easier access to police help. A police post is not a Police station as such an FIR is not registered and investigated here. However, FIR is recorded and forwarded to the Police station for its registration. Once it is registered, it is sent back to the post and is marked to some specific officer or head constable for commencing investigation and its disposal as per Law.
Officer-in-charge & jurisdiction
At the heart of this scheme lies the officer-in-charge of the police station, commonly known as the Station House Officer (SHO). The officer-in-charge of a police station is an Inspector of Police, particularly in cities and metropolitan areas. The officer-in-charge of a mega police station can be of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP); whereas for urban and rural police stations, Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors may be in charge respectively.
In the absence of anything to the contrary, the jurisdiction of the police station and the SHO is the same.
|Section 155 of the CrPC
|Section 156 of CrPC
|SHO has jurisdiction over such offences that are committed within the limits of the police station
|SHO has the power to investigate such offences that a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such police station would have the power to inquire into or try, under the provisions of Chapter XIII.
Instances of exercise of power beyond local jurisdiction:
In pursuit of offender: Section 48 provides that the police officer can go to a place in India beyond his jurisdiction to arrest any such person whom he is authorized to arrest without a warrant. Further, suppose the police officer can even carry out a search outside the local limits of his jurisdiction if he has reason to believe that evidence related to the commission of offence will be concealed or destroyed, or that the local police station is working in connivance with the accused person.
For Investigation, and inquiries during trials: Section 177 provides for an ‘ordinary’ place for enquiry and trial of an offence. Thus, it follows that the SHO may investigate offences committed outside his ‘normal’ jurisdiction
Appearance in official databases
E-Court India Services
The status of a criminal case before a specific court can be searched by FIR number (as shown) on E-Courts. Because each FIR number is registered at/by a specific Police Station, the user must know the exact police station that first registered the case and select the station name from a dropdown.
Each E-Courts District Court website provides a List of Police Stations within the district as well as a Police Station-wise Magistrate List for each District.
Every Police Station comes under the jurisdiction of a magistrate’s court. The E-courts website provides a list of police stations in each district and the particulars of the magistrate court that shall exercise jurisdiction over them.
The indexing and illustrative style are not uniform and vary greatly across states.
Under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), data input and access is enabled for each Police Station in India with unique logins for officers.
The goal of this project is to strengthen data sharing across the criminal justice system and improve operational efficiency. CCTNS focuses on:
- Search and Basic Reporting
CCTNS relies on/uses the same unique identifier as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which contains pan-India ‘PS codes’ of Police Stations across the country. These can be accessed at NCRB All India Police Station List.
Each PS code is a 7-digit number. The first 4 digits represent the district code of the district where the Police station is located and the next 3 digits are variable and different for each police station. For example- the Parliament Street Police Station is coded as 8165022, wherein 8165 is the district code of New Delhi, while the next three digits i.e. 022 is ascribed to the particular Police Station in New Delhi District.
State Police Department websites
This list does not follow the same coding and differs from those assigned in the NCRB list of police stations.
Research that engages with Police Station
Data on Police Organizations: Bureau Of Police Research And Development, Government of India
BPRD has put out an annual report each year from 2005 onwards. These reports examine indicators reflective of systemic capacity such as:
- Police - Population Ratio (PPR),
- Area Per Police Person (APP),
- number of Police Zones, Ranges, Districts, Circles, Police Stations, Police Posts and
- number of Special Armed Police Battalions in the country.
This report drafted by Common Cause analyses the structural 'adequacy' of the Indian police services through a combination of official data and perception surveys.
"The police is also the most recognisable face of the State and a police station is invariably a citizen’s first point of contact in an hour of crisis."
The survey assessed facilities present in police station such as computers, vehicles, seating area, telephones or wireless, toilets & drinking water in 2016-17. In general, it was found that infrastructural deficiencies in stations places severe stress on police personnel and progress has to be made.
Also see: Ministry of Home Affairs, 2018, ‘Ranking of Police Stations 2018’, Government of India, Available at [accessed 15 June 2019]
India Justice Reports
The India Justice Reports (IJR) published in 2019 and 2020 study the investigative capacity of the police and consider how accessibility of police stations may be measured either through (i) area covered or (ii) population covered:
"…a comparative study of the spread of police personnel in the urban and rural areas separately in a few typical States in different regions of the country shows an enormous variation ranging from a ratio of one policeman per 675 of urban population to one policeman per 5,403 of rural population. Areawise the ratio ranges from one police station for an area of 7.9 sq. kms. in urban area to one police station for 1,069.7 sq. kms. in rural area.’"
In 1981, the NPC suggested that 150 sq. km should be the average area covered by a rural police station. Though 40 years old, this is the only available benchmark and both IJR reports assess how various Indian states measure up to it.
The paper examines the impact of establishing women police stations (WPS) on reporting of gender-based violence. Using administrative crime data and exploiting staggered implementation across Indian cities, the paper finds that the opening of WPS is associated with an increase in police reports of crimes against women by 29 per cent, a result driven by domestic violence. This appears to reflect reporting rather than incidence as we find no changes in femicide or in survey-reported domestic violence. We also find some evidence of an increase in women’s labour supply following the WPS opening, consistent with women feeling safer once the costs of reporting violence fall.
Challenges and Regional Variations in analysing Police Station
- Lack of data population in E-Courts/CIS for criminal cases – In 2020, DAKSH observed that across District & Taluka courts in each state, the “Police Station” field is frequently not filled up:
This prevents systemic research or analysis that relies on “Police Station” as a key analytical unit, such as into where certain crimes most originate.
- Variable spellings of same Police Station name across English Hindi and other Indian languages: The same police station name when manually entered (digitised) by court registry officials may be spelled in different ways. This confounds macro- research or analysis into which police stations criminal cases originate from. Both DAKSH and VIDHI have recommended the adoption of standardised dropdown menus for data entry.
- Difficulty in reconciling unique PS number E-Courts/CIS database with CCTNS database: While NCRB and CCTNS use a unique code for each Police Station, the same unique identifiers are not used by other databases in India. This can make efforts at interoperability of systems difficult as Police Stations are not easily linked across platforms.
Also known as
Station House, Thana, Kotwali
- PRS India. Police Reforms in India. (June 2017) https://prsindia.org/policy/analytical-reports/police-reforms-india#:~:text=Under%20the%20Constitution%2C%20police%20is,with%20ensuring%20law%20and%20order
- Sec 2(s). CrPC 1973. https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1974-02.pdf
- P.R Nayak v. Union of India. Supreme Court of India. Dec 7, 1971. https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609ab72e4b014971140c839
- Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD). "Indian Police: an Introductory and Statistical Overview". https://bprd.nic.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/file/1645442204-Volume%201.pdf
- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). "Police Organisation in India" https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/police_organisations.pdf
- CCTNS CAS Citizen State User Manual. http://citizenportal.hppolice.gov.in:8080/citizen/kv/CCTNS_CAS_Citizen_State_User_Manual.pdf
- National Crime Records Bureau. All India Police Station List. https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/nrcb_news/NCRB_PS_List.xlsx