Police continues to grapple with staff shortage
Geetanjali Minhas | November 27, 2014
“Thirty-two percent people in Mumbai do not feel safe. 36% people do not feel safe for women, children and senior citizens in their own localities, 36% do not feel safe while travelling from one place to the other within the city and 37% do not feel secure travelling in train within the city,” says Praja Foundation’s white paper titled: ‘State of policing and law and order in Mumbai.’
Crime against women has increased between 2012 and 2014. While rape cases have increased by 47%, molestation by 52%, chain snatching by 66% and housebreaking by 17% during.
Conviction rate in class II serious offences (murder, rape, serious hurt, abduction, etc.) has been a mere eight percent while the overall conviction rate is a low 22%. Ninety-two percent of those charge sheeted have got away scot-free, reveals the finding.
“To maintain law and order in the city; it is imperative that these figures rise. Low conviction rates lead to thriving crime and, consequently, an unsafe city. A combination of low conviction rates and high levels of understaffing in the police force have resulted in the crumbling of law and order in Mumbai, leading to a rise in criminal activities,” says the report.
As of July 2014, out of a sanctioned strength of 41,643 officers, Mumbai police has only 37,159, resulting in 11 percent gap. The gap for investigating officers (API and PSI) is 32%, affecting quality of investigations and delay in completing investigation.
Further the report says that even the police control room is short by 126 officers, a gap of 47 percent. The survey says that only 46% respondents have used police help lines (100/103).
Out of 83,415 cases registered in 2013, investigation was completed only in 38.814 cases. In case of class II serious offences, out of 14,846 registered in 2013, investigation was completed only in 7,672 cases.
“Understaffing and multiplicity of tasks in the Mumbai police force is compromising investigation and there by leading to low conviction rates. A fully manned force will mean that the officers handling criminal cases will focus solely on these investigations rather than being called on to man roadblocks and performing ‘bandobast’ duties. Consequently, cases that make their way to the courts will be watertight and there will be an assurance that the guilty will be convicted,” said Nitai Mehta, founder trustee, Praja Foundation.
Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja adds that due to the huge gap between sanctioned and available IOs (investigating officers), investigations have not been conducted in an organised manner. “A study of acquitted cases shows that the chief reason for acquittal has been ‘lack of evidence which in turn showcases the performance of the IO, the public prosecutor and the lack of coordination between the two.”
Further the findings say North Mumbai is the most unsafe area to live in. 44% of the respondents felt North Mumbai is not safe. North Mumbai figures show that since most of them called the police helpline numbers: 65% of which are manned by a understaffed control room (deficit of 47% personnel), many complaints failed to be registered appropriately.
Findings also reveal that between 2009 and 2014, highest occurrence of registered crime cases were reported in North Central Mumbai: 37, 371, its representing MLA’s - Krishna Kumar Hedge, Milind Kamble, Prakash Sawant, Baba Siddiqui, and Kripashankar Singh asked only 341 questions during budget 2009 to monsoon 2014 assembly sessions.
With regard to trial of cases in the year 2013, 2,01,667 cases were tried but trial was completed only in 8%, which is 17,034 cases. Out of these conviction was given in only 22% cases, which is 3,694 cases. In case of class II serious offence, 54,163 cases were tried and trials were completed in only 4,862 cases. Conviction was given in only 8%: 403 cases.
In case of railway police, Kurla and Borivali railway police stations reported highest number of accidental deaths during the past five years between 2009 and 2013, 444 and 345, respectively, in 2013. Though the total numbers decreased from 2065 in 2009 to 1854 in 2013.
“Crime has flourished all over the state’s capital and we must question why there has been such a sharp rise despite having a police force that is honour bound to protect the citizens. Priority must be given to training and staffing the police force so that it is strong enough to handle the crisis. A large and populated city like Mumbai throws at it. Issues related to crime and its curtailment must be a regular topic of deliberations. MLAs must be constantly engaged with the citizens as well as the police force to keep a diligent eye on the law and order situation in the city. Only then will Mumbai become a safe and peaceful city to live in,” said Mehta.
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