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Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice

Last registered on September 30, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice
Initial registration date
October 11, 2018

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
October 11, 2018, 7:12 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
September 30, 2021, 2:36 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


Primary Investigator

University of Virginia

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Oxford University
PI Affiliation
University of Virginia

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Poor and marginalized citizens, particularly women, often lack access to a responsive police force and, consequently experience diminished security and high levels of crime and violence. Efforts to address such issues often include gender-targeted policing interventions, but the underlying assumptions as well as impacts of such interventions have not been rigorously studied to date. We study them in the context of India, a country plagued by rising rates of gender-based violence coupled with low rates of reporting of such crimes. We employ an RCT to evaluate whether the establishment of police station-level Women’s Help Desks (WHDs), as well as the deployment of additional female personnel to these WHDs, improves the responsiveness of frontline officers to women, as well as levels of crime and crime reporting. We aim to test the theory that the increased presence of under-represented groups within the police can favorably affect policing practices towards these groups.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Kruks-Wisner, Gabrielle, Akshay Mangla and Sandip Sukhtankar. 2021. "Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice." AEA RCT Registry. September 30.
Former Citation
Kruks-Wisner, Gabrielle, Akshay Mangla and Sandip Sukhtankar. 2021. "Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice." AEA RCT Registry. September 30.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The Women’s Help Desks represent a treatment bundle that combines four elements: 1) the creation of physical spaces within stations mandated to assist women; 2) the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training to guide officers assigned to the desks; 3) outreach to local women’s networks with the aim of socially-embedding the WHDs in their surrounding communities; and 4) the allocation of additional female officers to the WHDs.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) citizen perceptions, including satisfaction with and trust in the police; (2) women contacting the police; (3) crimes registered – where increased reporting is indicative of more effective policing; (4) action taken on these crimes; (5) police officer perceptions and reported actions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our unit of randomization is the police station: treatment stations mandated to start WHDs will be compared to a control group with no WHDs. All treatment stations receive the first three components: creation of a desk, training, and community outreach. We have randomized the fourth component (allocation of additional female personnel) as a separate treatment arm. This will allow us to gain leverage on the question of whether or not the presence of additional female officers has an independent effect, above and beyond the effect of the WHD.

The Madhya Pradesh Police selected ten districts - with nearly 300 police stations - across the state to be representative of geography, demographics, and socio-economic conditions. After removing specialized police stations (headquarters, cybercells, etc.), we have 180 police stations in our sample. Within each district, we stratified police stations by geography (urban and rural) and by the first principal component of a vector of police station characteristics (number of assigned officers; number of registered cases; population served). We randomized our two treatment and control arms within these strata, with 61 police stations in the first treatment arm (WHDs with first three components), 59 in the second (WHDs with first three components + female police officers assigned), and 60 in the control arm.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by computer using Stata.
Randomization Unit
Police station
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 2000 police officers; approximately 5400 women.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
61 police stations that have WHDs with first three components; 59 police stations that have WHDs with first three components + female police officers assigned; 60 in the control arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Virginia
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Institute for Financial Management & Research
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-Analysis Plan

MD5: 16cefd0d52403bdbbed600a8d477ff67

SHA1: 53c42dbd8b3b7e70d0ff1cd33126613055c0604d

Uploaded At: March 05, 2020

Covid-19 Related Updates to Pre-Analysis Plan

MD5: 95992949de47aaf7dcb277d0e62fd351

SHA1: 637c79c888548c2880ebb2817a41682b597c74a5

Uploaded At: June 29, 2020


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
March 31, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
October 31, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
180 police stations: 120 treated, 60 control
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
At Endline: 180 police stations; 3251 users; 1961 police officers; 3376 citizens
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
61 "regular" treatment; 59 woman officer treatment
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Gender-targeted police reforms are frequently proposed to tackle the global problem of rising yet underreported
gender-based violence (GBV)—but with mixed and often disappointing results. We explore this
issue in India, a country with alarming rates of GBV and limited police capacity, by studying the impact of
Women’s Help Desks (WHDs): dedicated spaces for women in local police stations, staffed by trained
officers. Drawing on the largest randomized controlled trial of a police reform to date (180 police
stations serving 23.4 million people), we find that officers in stations with WHDs are more likely to
register cases of GBV, particularly where female officers run the desks. This suggests that even in
resource-constrained and patriarchal environments, police responsiveness can be improved by focusing
and mainstreaming attention to women’s cases and by greater gender representation within the police.
Sukhtankar, Sandip, Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner, and Akshay Mangla. "Policing in patriarchy: An experimental evaluation of reforms to improve police responsiveness to women in India." Science 377, no. 6602 (2022): 191-198.

Reports & Other Materials