In a move to empower women and check growing incidents of gender crime, the government will soon start appointing women who are above 21 years as special police officers (SPOs) in six lakh villages across the country. The services of the SPO will be voluntary in nature.
The Union home ministry has given the go ahead to a Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry’s proposal to appoint women SPOs, who will act as a link between the community and the police to fight gender crime. “Along with the home ministry, we have finalised the protocol for appointing the SPOs. It will be notified soon,” WCD minister Maneka Gandhi told HT.
SPOs are ordinary citizens appointed by the state police to help them in community policing. They are mostly given non combative assignments, are not regular employees and are not paid wages. However,if they want states can pay honorariums to SPOs. The Police Act, 1862 provides for appointing SPOs.
Ministry officials said that any woman over the age of 21 years and who has cleared her Class 12 exams would be eligible to apply for SPOs.
“They would be appointed by the Superintendent of Police and trained by the local police on how to handle gender related crimes. Their job would be to get in touch with the local police station if they come to know about any case of crime against women. Each SPO would be provided with a badge and identity card,” said an official.
Initially, the ministry plans to recruit one SPO in each of the six lakh villages. “The numbers can be increased later depending on the feedback,” said another official.