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Cardboard cops on the beat

AFP
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Bangalore police are trying out a new way to enforce road rules

Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar
Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

Police in this high-tech hub are trying a new way to reduce traffic offences – using cardboard cops to scare drivers into believing the long arm of the law is watching them.

Road deaths have surged in India despite a low rate of car ownership with a lethal combination of poor law enforcement, untrained drivers and bad roads making the country one of the world's leading centres of road deaths.

Many drivers will only obey traffic rules if they think law enforcers will reach out and apprehend them “and we can't be omnipresent”, additional Bangalore police commissioner M.A. Saleem said.

"Drivers in Indian cities violate traffic rules when there are no cops around – they jump traffic lights and go the wrong way on one-way streets," he said.

"These cutout cops are very effective and they can be on the job seven days a week," Saleem added.

Such lifesize flatpack cutouts are frequently used in places like Britain and North America as a crime prevention measure but Saleem said he believed it was the first time such an idea had been employed in Indian cities.

So far, three khaki-clad cardboard policemen have been deployed on major roads in Bangalore.One cardboard policeman was stolen last week but that has not discouraged Saleem who said the fake policemen will now be removed when it is dark to reduce chances of theft.

He said he plans to install 10 more cardboard police on Bangalore's roads.

"It's good. From a distance it looks like a real cop," one Bangalore driver told India's NDTV, while another told the TV network he had been fooled by the cutouts.

"Two or three times we thought it was a real policeman standing there and we slowed down," he said.AFP


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