Online police complaints likely from April

The government is planning a single, toll-free helpline number across India to help women in distress, and the States have been asked to look into the possibility of creating a separate fleet of all-women PCR (police control room) vehicles, particularly in cities where crime is on the rise.

Also, registering complaints online, without having to visit police stations, could become a reality from April.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought opinion from the Department of Telecommunications for setting up a single helpline to help women reach the police or other departments.

Online registration of complaints will likely begin when the MHA’s flagship Crime & Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), which was launched last week, becomes fully operational in a majority of 14,000 police stations across India.

Referring to last week’s conference of Chief Secretaries and police chiefs, a senior MHA official said all States agreed to increase the number of PCRs. In cities where the crime against women is growing, a separate wing of PCR vans operated by women could be started.

“State governments have been told to have women helpdesk in every police station… They have also been asked to begin a fresh recruitment drive to improve women: men ratio in our police forces, which today stands at a dismal 3-4 per cent,” the official said.

Other measures the States have been asked to take, particularly in cities, include more security on trains and fitting all modes of public transport — buses, taxis and autorickshaws — with GPS to monitor their movement real time. “We have urged the Chief Secretaries to give funds for opening care centres for women who have no place to go at night… Help of NGOs can also be sought for this. This is one area of concern, particularly in cities, where women become easy victims as they have no shelter at night.”

On special training for police, the official said it was agreed that gender sensitisation would be made part of the curriculum, if it was not done in police training schools and colleges.

“Awareness programmes are necessary... Expansion of civil police is necessary and reluctance of women to join the force should be overcome by reserving posts for them in police. The Deputy Superintendent of Police should be made the nodal officer for crime against women in every district, while one Additional Director-General should be designated as the nodal officer in every State.”

The CCTNS — the Rs. 2,000-crore, nationwide IT networking infrastructure — will connect 14,000 police stations.

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