Mumbai’s only existing cyber police station is at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). (HT FILE)
Mumbai’s only existing cyber police station is at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). (HT FILE)

Mumbai to get five new cyber police stations on Republic Day

Each of these cyber police stations will be located in five policing regions of the city, said joint commissioner of police (CP) (law and order) Vishwas Nangre Patil. Chief minister Uddhav Thackerey will inaugurate the stations at DB Marg police station on Tuesday.
By Vijay Kumar Yadav, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:48 AM IST

The city is getting five new cyber police stations that will start to function from Republic Day. Each of these cyber police stations will be located in five policing regions of the city, said joint commissioner of police (CP) (law and order) Vishwas Nangre Patil. Chief minister Uddhav Thackerey will inaugurate the stations at DB Marg police station on Tuesday.

The new dedicated cyber police stations will not be entrusted with any law and order-related or regular bandobast duties and will be presently located in Shivajinagar police station, Govandi for East region; office of the additional commissioner of police at Carter Road, Bandra for West region; Samatanagar police station, Borivli for North region; DB Marg police station at Lamington Road for South region; and Worli police station for Central region.

These police stations will be under the control of joint CP (law and order) while zonal DCPs and additional CPs of the regions concerned will supervise and review their functioning, said a senior police officer. Each of these stations would be headed by a senior inspector rank officer and would have four inspectors, six assistant inspectors, 10 sub-inspectors and 40 constabulary.

The new cyber police stations will take up cybercrimes involving amount from 2 lakh to 50 lakh. Cases involving amount below 2 lakh will be investigated by the local police, whereas cases involving over 50 lakh would be dealt by existing specialised cybercrime police station at Bandra-Kurla Complex which comes under the crime branch.

Presently, the city has only one dedicated cyber police station in BKC. “Decentralising the investigation and allocating new police stations at all the regions would make it convenient for the victims,” said a cyber police officer.

The five new full-fledged police stations would also enhance the police’s response time to online frauds. In case of cybercrimes, the first two hours are considered to be golden hours, and the new police stations will help take timely action to save people’s money if all goes as planned, another senior officer said.

Last year, the city’s only cyber police station managed to save 15 crore of cyber fraud victims who approached the police within the golden hour.

The new cyber police stations will also improve the quality of investigation of online fraud cases as well as detection, conviction and recovery rate of cybercrimes. In 2020, the city police detected only 207 or 8.5% of the 2,435 cases registered with them.

It is important to note here that cybercrime cases, which are registered under Information Technology Act as per government rules, have to be investigated by an inspector rank officer. “It’s important that the new police stations have sanctioned four inspectors, otherwise officers posted there would get overburdened with cases and the purpose of new dedicated police stations would not be served,” said cybercrime expert Ritesh Bhatia. Sources said that 50% of the staff at the new cyber police stations would be women.

The existing dedicated cyber police station at BKC, which is overburdened with cases, has only three Inspector rank police officers. All the 95 police stations in the city also has small cybercrime units, but they have very poor detection and recovery rate, police sources said. “Limited manpower and resources are the basic issues cyber police officers face while making investigations of major professional cyber fraud gangs,” said an officer requesting anonymity.

“The new cyber police stations must act proactively. Besides investigation, they should also devise a strong fraud money stopping or prevention mechanism. Also, they should regularly review newer modus operandi of cyber fraudsters and create awareness among masses. At present the police department is creating cyber awareness through its Twitter handle,” said cyber expert Prashant Mali.

“The higher ups of the police department must understand the importance of training personnel at cyber police stations to detect newer types of cybercrimes as it is a fast evolving world,” cyber expert Vicky Shah said.

In the past few years, cybercrime cases have increased by many folds. The cases include financial frauds by impersonating bank executives to obtains debit/credit card details, OTP, obscenity, lottery frauds, man in middle (MIM) attack cases, spoofing, card cloning, hacking, phishing, matrimonial site and frauds on social networking sites. The increasing rate of these crimes raised concerns as it directly affects masses.

Cybercrime saw a rise in Mumbai in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic with 2,435 cases of various cybercrime registered as compared to 2,225 cases in 2019. Cases of obscene WhatsApp chats/messages, emails, SMS, social media posts and morphing saw an increase as 247 such cases were reported in 2020 while the number was 239 in 2019. Detection of such case got poorer with only 91 cases detected in 2020 as compared to 104 in 2019.

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