Decision to install cameras taken for supervision and functioning of the homes
Unnerved by the installation of web-enabled closed-circuit television cameras for round-the-clock monitoring of activities at the Place of Safety home in Majnu-ka-Tila, some of the notorious juveniles lodged there have allegedly broken two of the cameras.
The decision to install CCTV and web-enabled cameras was taken over a month ago by the Department of Women and Child Development for efficient supervision and functioning of children homes. Such cameras were installed at the Observation Home in Kingsway Camp and the Place of Safety in Majnu-ka-Tila where juveniles in conflict with law are kept. Similar surveillance systems were also installed at the care and protection homes for boys at Alipur, Dilshad Garden and Lajpat Nagar and for girls at Nirmal Chhaya.
In fact, the issue of effective monitoring of children homes through CCTVs had come up for discussion in February during a meeting of the Juvenile Justice Committee constituted by the Delhi High Court, which expedited the process of installation.
The Committee suggested that CCTV and web-cameras were required to be installed at locations like kitchen, corridors and areas outside the toilet rooms of the children home in order to enable the home superintendent to keep a close watch on the activities of both the staff and the children.
The Committee was of the view that web-cameras would also enable the authorities concerned to directly interact with the children on various problems faced by them and also issue necessary directions to the home staff as and when required.
Earlier this month, the Department of Women and Child Development informed the Committee that CCTVs and web-cameras had been installed at all the homes and they were stated to be functional. The department concerned was also asked to ensure proper maintenance of the system for effective and uninterrupted monitoring of the children homes. “This is for the first time in the country that CCTVs have been installed at the children homes and it would be a model for other States to follow,” said an official.
For his part, Department of Women and Child Development director Rajiv Kale on Tuesday said the cameras installed at the Place of Safety and Nirmal Chhaya were web-enabled and could be monitored by competent authorities from their offices. “It is an effective system. However, recently two of the cameras installed at the Place of Safety were broken by some children. Once I found that the camera had been covered with a towel to obstruct monitoring. I then called up the home official to get the towel removed,” said Mr. Kale.
Stating that instances of aggression by children inside the Place of Safety were not that rare, a former home official said only those children who were very difficult to handle, and who have to be segregated for the safety of other children, are kept at the Majnu-ka-Tila home. “Cases of security breach have been reported in the past. Some of those who are aware that since they are juveniles they cannot be prosecuted for crimes as adults take advantage of this privilege and create problems for the home staff,” said the official.
However, the official said the surveillance system would help monitor activities of the children home staff in terms of their attendance, punctuality and conduct with the children. “We often receive complaints from the children of them being physically assaulted by the staff. The installation of cameras will help check such incidents, if any,” said a source, adding that recently a security guard was caught on camera consuming liquor at a children home.
The CCTV systems installed at the homes have a 30-day recording and archiving facility to enable enquiry into any such complaints.