Mumbai Police hit by staff shortage: report

Crime against women continue to rise in Mumbai, says latest Praja Foundation report

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | November 22, 2013



With crime against women rising sharply in Mumbai, police investigation must be separated from regular law and order duties and policymakers need to seriously rethink policing in the city, says a white paper on the state of policing and law and order in the megacity released by Praja Foundation.

Between 2012 and 2103, cases of rape increased by 57 per cent and molestation by 43 per cent. Between January and March 2013, rape cases have increased by 25 per cent and molestation cases increased by 59 per cent, the study says.

22 per cent, or one-fourth of those surveyed, respondents said women, children and senior citizens face threat from unsafe neighbourhoods. “This (increase in filing of cases) could be due to conducive environment created by opinion-makers and the media in reporting crimes post-Nirbhaya case and the police in removing burking (not registering of cases),” said the report.

Findings point that Mumbai police departments and law enforcement agencies suffer shortage of personnel. Mumbai Police has a shortage of 14 per cent police personnel across all departments for the city. While Police Sub Inspectors (PSI) and Assistant Police Inspectors (API) generally carry out crime investigations, as of July 2013, of the 3, 125 PSIs sanctioned across all police stations only 1, 319 PSIs were actually posted at the police stations creating a gap of 58 per cent.

In case of API, out of 1,002 sanctioned only 732 were working. This shortage has created a 50 per cent gap between sanctioned police personnel and actual postings within Mumbai region. “PSIs and APIs are actually trained to conduct investigations for crimes. With such a huge shortage of PSIs and APIs, it is little wonder that charge sheets are not being filed for lack of investigation of crimes,” said Project Director, Milind Mhaske.

The Police Control Room has a maximum shortage of personnel at 52 per cent between sanctioned and actual postings. As of July 2013, of the 267 personnel sanctioned for the control room, only 127 were working. Over 40 per cent citizens call the Police Helpline number 100/103 to report a crime or ask for police assistance. A total of 6,247 (class II) serious offences (cases involving causing bodily harm) were pending with Mumbai Police in 2012. These serious offences include murder, rape, grievous hurt, kidnapping, abduction, etc. Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, reported rape cases have gone up by 57 per cent and only minor incidents of crime appear to have reduced. 91 per cent of 47, 510 cases sent for trail in 2012 and before are pending judgement.

With 7,446 registered cases of crime, North-Central Mumbai, consisting of heavily populated areas like, Vile Parle, Bandra and Kurla have the highest number of cases in the year 2012-2013. People living in South-Central Mumbai that includes Chembur, Sion-Koliwada and Mahim feel most unsafe while residents of North-Mumbai felt safe across all parameters.

7 per cent of victims said they do not have faith in police to report crime and 5 per cent said they did not report because they did not want more trouble. 8 per cent of those who witnessed crime said they did not report because they do not have faith in the police system. 11 per cent said they did not report because they do not want to get involved in further trouble.

70 per cent of those who faced crime said they were satisfied with police response. “Punishment is the biggest deterrent to serious crimes, and in our democratic processes punishment is solely dependent upon framing of charges, investigation, trial and then conviction. Lack of police investigating personnel actually encourages serious crimes,” said Nitai Mehta, founder Trustee, Praja.

The report findings that include data on railway crimes in the city of Mumbai revealed that the Railway Police (GRP, government railway police) too suffers a 10 per cent gap between sanctioned and working strength of railway police personnel with 33 per cent shortage in required and sanctioned strength of APIs and ASIs.

There is a 200 per cent increase in molestation of women in railways within Mumbai in 2012 from previous year. While deaths and injuries have seen a gradual reduction over the last years, Kurla and Borivali remain the hotbed of accidental deaths and injuries with an all time high, almost double the figure for all other stations. “The solution clearly lies in adding more trained personnel to our police force and not bog them by ‘bandobast’ and ‘nakabandi’ duties,” adds Mehta.

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