The government has decided to recruit women as special police officers (SPOs) to help check gender crimes in villages across the country by acting as a link between the community and police.
The unarmed SPOs will be trained by the local police and their job will be to voluntarily keep a watch on gender crimes in their area of operation and inform police when necessary. They will be paid a minimum monthly pocket money of Rs 500.
“If some states want, they can increase the money. They will not be regular employees,” a government official said.
The home ministry gave the final go-ahead last week to the women and child development ministry’s proposal to appoint SPOs that had been pending for some time.
“We will now draft guidelines about the specific role of SPOs, the criteria for recruiting them, etc, and share it with the states,” a senior women and child development ministry official said.
Ministry officials said any woman above the age of 21 and having cleared Class 12 would be eligible to apply for the post of SPO. Once selected, these women will be given
basic training in policing and on how to handle gender-related crimes.
“Their role will be to basically assist police and motivate women to come forward and report such crimes,” another official said.
Each SPO will be provided with a badge and identity card. “Initially, we will start appointing SPOs in 600,000 villages and expand it to more areas gradually,” the official added.
Appointing SPOs is not a new practice and is used in many states. The Police Act, 1862, provides for appointing SPOs to assist in community policing. So far, SPOs have
been appointed to counter Maoists in states such as Andhra Pradesh and Bihar as well as to fight insurgency in Manipur and Kashmir.
In some states where SPOs were hired to aid police in insurgency operations they were provided firearms. In Chhattisgarh, appointment of SPOs came under a cloud and was banned by the Supreme Court in 2011.