District units of the Crime Branch of the police have started functioning from Tuesday.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told the Assembly on Tuesday that he had issued orders turning the district crime detachment units into units of the Crime Branch. The crime detachment units currently did not have much work whereas there were frequent demands for investigation of sensational cases as well as cases involving complaints about local police investigation to be taken up by Crime Branch.

The State-level unit of the Crime Branch would continue to investigate cases that could not be tackled by the district unit.

Replying to the debate on the demands for grants for Police and Jails, Mr. Chennithala said the Police Department proposed to set up senior citizens service bureaus in all districts. A special nodal officer would be appointed for tribal areas. New coastal police stations would be set up in ten more locations.

The Minister said the police had arrested 1,465 persons in a drive against drug peddlers. Large quantities of drugs and intoxicants were been smuggled in from other States.

The police had raided major financial companies under Operation Kuberan and some companies had challenged the police action in courts. The High Court had made it clear on Tuesday that it would not interfere. The non-banking financial companies were not following fair practice code mandated by the RBI. They also accepted blank cheques in violation of the law and the police had been acting on complaints. The policemen conducting raids were being watched by the special branch to check bribe-taking.

Mr. Chennithala said a pilot project (Nirbhaya Keralam, Surakshita Keralam) would be implemented in Ernakulam district to ensure the safety of women and children and prevent their exploitation. The law and order and crime investigation functions of the police would be separated in Kasaragod district on an experimental basis. The traffic police would start a new initiative to provide trauma care to accident victims.

The government proposed to set up more jails and modernise existing ones. A high-security prison was nearing completion at Viyyur in Thrissur district. More measures for welfare of prisoners were also on the anvil.

After the Minister’s reply, the House passed the demands for grants totalling Rs.1,726.25 crore.