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Being harassed in train? Call new helpline, expect cops outside your compartment at next station

Mumbai police expect thefts, fights among commuters, complaints of lost baggage and crimes against women to drop once the new system is activated

mumbai Updated: Aug 28, 2017 10:37 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai police,Mumbai commute,GRP helpline
Over the years, the GRP has been grappling with how to respond to crimes committed on trains or platforms in a timely manner.(HT File)

Want to report a crime while inside a moving train or at a busy platform? You will no longer have to hunt for railway police control room numbers

This week, the government railway police (GRP) will launch a special railway helpline —1512 — to help commuters connect to the nearest on-duty policeman. This real-time response will be facilitated by an ultra-modern control room.

“This special platform will enable commuters to directly report crimes to our officers on the ground, which will ensure a quick response,” GRP commissioner Niket Kaushik told HT. He added that the helpline would help tackle crimes against women in a major way.

The GRP hopes to reduce the response time to less than five minutes, he said.

Over the years, the GRP has been grappling with how to respond to crimes committed on trains or platforms in a timely manner. “As criminals, commuters and trains are constantly on the move, we found it difficult to respond to crises,” said a senior GRP official.

Currently, the control room staff answers commuters’ calls, then blares the information to the ground staff. By the time they respond, the train has moved on.

“This not only gives criminals an opportunity to escape, but the complainant — who is often in a hurry — is hassled as he has to wait for the police to arrive,” said the officer.

Once the new system is activated, the control room staff can connect the commuter to a an on-duty policeman immediately, using a specially designed software.

“We will be able to locate ground staff through GPS co-ordinates. Their positions will be displayed on digital monitors. So, the moment the caller reveals his location, the control room staff will connect him to an officer via conferencing,” he said.

For example, if someone reports a crime on a train that has just left Dadar station, he be connected to the GRP personnel at the next stop. “The moment the train reaches that station, the caller will find the police waiting outside his compartment,” said Kaushik.

He added that thefts, fights among commuters, complaints of lost baggage and crimes against women are likely to drop once the system is activated.

The GRP control room receives more than 200 complaints from the three sections of the suburban railway daily. The number of calls surge during festivals or natural disasters.

The GRP, which has been facing a staff crunch, struggles to tackle crimes in its vast jurisdiction. Only 2,800 personnel from 17 police stations man 128 railway station. “We cope by deploying our staff in a strategic way,” said a senior GRP official.

He added that at any given time, not more than 1,000 staff are on duty. A year ago, the police recalibrated its deployment by putting at least one team, comprising two to three men, at each railway station and initiating flash drives at major railway stations. This helped reduce the rate of crimes, especially those against women, in the first seven months of this year, compared to last year’s figures, said an official.

Molestation cases fell by almost 35%, from 74 cases between January and July in 2016 to 47 in the same period this year. The number of kidnappings reported came down from 16 in 2016 to 11 in 2017. Instances of harassment dropped from 6 to 2, revealed statistics released by the GRP.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 10:37 IST