The functioning of the Anti-Human-Trafficking Cell of the State police seems to have lost its initial momentum, but officials are confident that this lag will be temporary.

The cell could make a mark at the national level with a better performance rate than those of their counterparts from other States as has been reported at a recent meeting convened by the Additional Secretary to the Union Home Ministry.

The cell is being coordinated by S. Sreejith, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, and was functioning from the Crime Branch office in Thiruvananthapuram. Mr. Sreejith has since then assumed charge as DIG, Kannur, and the cell is also being shifted there.

“The cell has been set up as a working arrangement, so it might take some time for the cell to become functional from the DIG's office in Kannur. But it should be noted that human trafficking is not a serious issue here as it is in other States. However, crime statistics are high here as the force is proactive and registers cases,” Jacob Punnoose, Director-General of Police, says.

The cell has registered 472 cases against trafficking of children and women during the three months to June and arrested 262 people in related cases. It had identified 582 children being held in bonded labour, of which 504 have been rehabilitated.

“Similarly, Kerala tops in cases registered for rioting and child begging, whereas the situation is far better than in many other States where this many cases are not registered. The figures are based on action taken by the police and not instances of crime,” Mr. Punnoose said.

The cell is now being revamped by recruiting personnel exclusively for it, along with officials brought in on deputation. This is expected to be completed by mid-September.

“In between, two training sessions for police officers in the State were organised by the cell, including a three-day in-house programme at the Kerala Police Academy,” Mr. Sreejith said.

The cell will be coordinating the works done by the deputy superintendents of police at the district crime records bureaux, who have been designated as district-level nodal officers.

Though the control room helpline number ([0471] 246 2242) of the cell is still active, the number of calls received has fallen.

Officials have expressed confidence that all these will be sorted out, once the cell starts functioning from the new set-up.

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