Addressing a group of India Police Service probationers at his residence, Dr Singh said there should be behaviourial and psychological studies to see why people indulge in heinous crimes like gang-rape and efforts should be made to "wean" them away.
He said fast-paced urbanisation was leading to increased migration of job-searching youth from rural areas and they could become a "menace" if they do not get "well absorbed" in the processes of development.
"We are in a society where there are growing tensions all around. The police leaders of tomorrow have to be well versed with emerging challenges be they in the form of extremism, be they in the form of cyber crime, be they in the form of crime against our women, be they in the form of left wing extremism, or insurgency or secessionism," he told the young officers.
Noting that in all these matters, the police is called upon to enforce law and order, Dr Singh said "one area which must receive more attention is crime against women."
Pointing out that women "are victims of heinous crimes like rape and gang-rape", the PM said "only recently one such crime took place in the national capital. This phenomenon is taking place all over the country... We therefore have obligation to protect our women and children in rural as well as metropolitan areas."
Dr Singh was referring to the gang-rape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus here on December 16, an incident which has shocked the nation and triggered widespread protests.
"In rural areas, SCs and STs suffer from various types of atrocities," the PM said.
Observing that "service to India means service to people", he told the police officers that "protection of downtrodden people, especially SC, ST, women, child and elderly should be priority concern for all policemen of future."
Dr Singh noted that people generally don't have good opinion about police. "This must change. Police should act as friend, philosopher and guide. It is charged with responsibility of law and order which should be carried out in a humane manner."
He emphasised that police forces should master the cutting-edge technologies to be able to meet new challenges while observing human rights of all citizens.
"Law and order is the responsibility of every civilised society and therefore we must ensure our police services are trained, motivated to perform this task," Dr Singh said and asked the police forces to perform their duties while maintaining value systems.
"All have fundamental human rights. In enforcement of law and order, we must never lose sight of protecting human rights of citizens at large," he said.
Advising the police to lead by example while discharging their duties, he said "technology is moving at such a fast pace that unless you keep pace and operate at frontiers of technology, law-breakers and criminals will have edge over us. This we can't allow."
Dr Singh contended "one particular phenomenon that is acquiring monstrous dimension is fast urbanisation" which was unthinkable 20 years ago.
"Urbanisation is encouraging migration from rural areas at unplanned rate. We have a large population of footloose youth who come from rural areas to urban areas for jobs. If they do not get well-absorbed in processes of development, they can become a menace for the society," he said.
Therefore, he said, there should be a careful re-look at strategies and technologies at urban policing. "This is going to assume a new form. So, we must master it through the study of psychology and behaviours and see what motivates people to heinous crimes such as rape. What is that we can do to wean away people from this heinous path> This should be part of the studies," Dr Singh said.
"Urbanisation has come to stay. In 20 years, more people will come to stay in urban areas than before. Our police forces should be equipped," he said.
Describing police as privileged service, he asked the forces to take advantage of technologies but operate with a value system embedded in the constitution.