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New entry system for visitors to police stations in Maharashtra aims to prevent burking of crimes

mumbai Updated: Feb 15, 2018 09:39 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,burking of crimes,Maharashtra police

HT was the first to report (December 9, 2017) about the outcome of the discreet survey which was conducted over a period of three months last year, wherein it was found that while in 50% cases the police had refused to register FIRs, the same was the case with lessening of offences.(HT FILE)

After an in-house survey exposed the high instances of burking of crimes and lessening of offences by police stations across the state, the Maharashtra police have come up with a comprehensive scheme to address the problem.

The “Visitor Management System (VMS)”, as the scheme has been named, is being implemented at 294 police stations in the police commissionerate areas, including the 94 police stations in Mumbai, and district headquarters on a priority basis.

HT was the first to report (December 9, 2017) about the outcome of the discreet survey which was conducted over a period of three months last year, wherein it was found that while in 50% cases the police had refused to register FIRs, the same was the case with lessening of offences.

“This is not only a step towards providing better service, but it will also help bringing about qualitative and perceptional change about the police in the eyes of the common man, “ Director General (prisons) Bipin Bihari said, adding, “The internal vigilance mechanism to assess professionalism in our men.”

The survey was conducted by sending decoy complainants to police stations across 7 police ranges. It brought to light the rampant refusal by officers to register cognizable offences while in other cases to scale down the gravity of offences by applying lighter penal sections. It came as a validation for the consistency in the annual crime figures of the state for the last decade or so. “We had registered a total of 2.08 lakh cases in 2017 as compared to 1.91 lakh cases in 2016, thus achieving 8 per cent annual increase. However, the figures look fudged, given that fact that the frequency of refusal to register an FIR is 50 per cent,” sources in the Director General of Police (DGP) office said.

Now with the VMS the state police aim at curbing the instances of refusal by the staff at the station house of police stations to attend to complaints.

“What hurts an aggrieved person more is when he is not heard or his complaint not entertained,” said Dr. Mahesh Patil, Superintendent of police, Thane rural who has already implemented the scheme at three police stations (Kashimira, Mira Road and Bhayandar). “Under the new scheme, the duty staff at the police station would be held responsible for not attending to visitors.”

Elaborating, he said, under the scheme, a head constable rank police man would specifically be appointed to keep records associated with the visitors. “The information would be maintained in a register in tabular format.” The tables would have finer details like-- the name of the visitor, the timings of his visit to the police station and time of exit. Most importantly, records like the purpose of his visit and status of his work/complaint (for second timers) would also be maintained in the register along with his photograph and contact number.

While the senior inspector of the respective police station/s would be keeping watch on the daily entries into the register, periodic reviews would be conducted by the Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs) and Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) every fortnight.

The reviews by the senior officials would be random in nature. For example, the seniors would go through 10-30 per cent of the entries in the register to check if appropriate attention was given to the visitor/s at the respective police stations. It would also be checked if the officer concerned had acted properly on the complaint through application of law. “The seniors have also been asked to contact complainants randomly to check if they were satisfied with the treatment they had received at the police station and action taken on their complaint,” Bihari said.

Defaulting officials caught during the review would face disciplinary action that will range from warning, reprimand to stoppage of increment/promotion to transfer and suspension: depending on the gravity of delinquency. “The punishment will be harsh for repeat offenders,” Bihari said.’

With the government earmarking funds for acquisition of computers and the requisite software, the VMS would be computerized in their respective units soon, sources said.

Old timers in the department said that burking of complaints or lessening of offences has a long history that is often associated with shortage of staff and a demand by seniors (and political dispensation) to keep the crime statistics under control. In rural areas, it is more so on account of lack of awareness among complainants.

“Much depends on the supervisory officers for the success of the new scheme,” said a former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) while requesting anonymity.

WHAT IS VMS?

Every police station will have a staff dedicated to keep record of the visitors to the police station in a register. Those include:

Serial Number of the visitor

Name

Mobile phone number

Photograph

Scanned copy of identity proof

Time of arrival and exit

Purpose of visit (or nature of work)

These details would be fed into a computer and additional details could also be added.

Review of the fed data to be taken by senior officers every fortnight (or month)

1.91 lakh –Total number of FIRs registered in Maharashtra in 2016

2.08 lakh—Total number of FIRs registered in Maharashtra in 2017

Instances of refusal to register FIRs across police stations: 50 %

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 09:39 IST