MOST OF the family counsellors appointed in Bhopal police stations do not have either the necessary qualification or experience. None of the 18 woman counsellors at family counselling centres-cum-help lines in city police stations has an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree – the most preferred qualification for the job. Seven have a postgraduate degree in psychology – the second preferred qualification.
At least three of the counsellors have got only three to four months of experience. A counsellor at the T T Nagar police station has passed BA II year while another at Govindpura has a BA degree.
The woman counsellors-cum-telephone operators were appointed by the district police under the Centre’s Swadhar Scheme at the help lines of the family counselling centres in June 2006 for an honorarium of Rs 5000 per month. Three counsellors each are working at the Mahila thana, and Govindpura, Habibganj, TT Nagar, Kotwali, Kotwali and Shahjehanabad police stations.
Though the Director General of Police has given the directives that educational qualifications might be relaxed if suitable candidates were not found, it is surprising that in a place like Bhopal where a number of colleges and the university are running social work courses, the police administration could not find a single MSW candidate for the post.
Social organisation Prayatna secretary Ajay Dubey, who used the Right to Information Act to get to know educational qualifications and experience of the counsellors at city police stations, said family counselling is taking a beating owing to lack of well-qualified and experienced people. He said that it is injustice to people who look for solutions to their major relationships problems from counsellors not competent enough. He alleged that there seem to be efforts at pleasing some people through appointments.
SP Anant Kumar Singh, however, said the posts were duly advertised but only 13 candidates turned up for the 18 posts and all of them were accommodated as most of them had other relevant qualifications. For the rest of the posts those counsellors who had been voluntarily working with city police were given preference as they had the relevant experience. For this special exemption, permission was taken from the higher-ups.
Whether the counselling process is being hampered, the SP said mere degrees do not make people eligible for such sensitive things, rather the approach, commitment and care are important.