Residents of slums in the city will now find it easier to reach out to the police. They will be able to put forth their complaints or grievances without visiting the police station.
To improve citizen-police communication, Sanjay Shintre, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), zone 7, has installed complaint boxes at strategic points in slum-dominated areas.
Since December 2010, the police have installed around 200 complaint boxes in slums between Ghatkopar and Mulund. They are also in the process of installing about 800 more boxes, which would include building societies and major junctions.
The step will ensure regular police patrolling, winning the locals’ confidence and getting regular updates on criminal activities in the area.
Concerned about the growing crime rate in the slums, Shintre said, “Usually, many policemen who patrol the roads do not visit slums. Also, people from the slums are hesitant to approach the police and we suspect a lot of crimes go unreported. As a result, we have no knowledge about what is happening there, which is not a good thing.”
Shintre said that in 2010, about 80% cases registered were from slum-dominated areas.
In order to get some line of communication in place, the police department came up with the idea of a complaint box. “There are a lot of anti-social elements in slums areas, but people are afraid to approach the police against them. Hence, we have mentioned on the boxes that the complainant does not have to mention his name or any personal details. He can jot down his problem on a piece of paper and slip it into the drop box any time,” said Shintre.
Policemen from eight police stations under zone 7 will have to check the complaints on a daily basis. “This means, a policeman will have to go to these areas every day to empty the boxes. This will give the people some sense of security. Also, the policemen will get to know the people and the area well,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Shintre said the officers were experienced to weed out fake complaints from genuine ones. He had carried out a similar drive wherein complaint boxes were installed at schools in zone 7 a few months back.