Lack of infrastructure and trained personnel is hampering investigations by the State's lone cyber police station here, even in cases related to surfing of child pornographic sites. Although cases have been registered at the station against 23 persons for frequenting these sites, the cyber police have not been able to move ahead with the investigation with the desired speed in the absence of an adequate number of personnel and vehicles.
The cases have been registered under Section 67 B of the Information Technology Act after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) handed over the details of the accused collected by Interpol to the State police recently. The Interpol list contains names, IP addresses, and full postal addresses.
The cyber police station, with jurisdiction all over the State, is still functioning from the State Crime Records Bureau premises at Pattom. The construction of an exclusive station on the Police Training College premises near Thycaud is moving at snail's pace.
The station does not even have a vehicle and is now using the vehicles of the bureau. In the case of modern gadgets and computers needed for investigations, the plight is the same. “We are ahead in cyber cases, but we do not have modern equipment. Other States are well equipped, but have no cases for detection,” an official said. In 2010, the State recorded 86,498 petitions and cases that fall under the category of cyber crimes. The figure is estimated to touch 1.25 lakh this year. The cyber police station, headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police, has a strength of only 11. Two circle inspectors, three sub-inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors, and other police personnel have been posted on a working arrangement.
The Finance Department has objected to the proposal to increase the staff strength to 39. The department is ready to give only 16 posts, an official said. The existing staff pattern was fixed in 2009.
The growing Internet penetration and interlinking of social-media platforms are cited as the main reasons for the increase in cyber crimes. Surfing of child-pornographic sites is said to have increased considerably. Under the IT Act, it is illegal not only to create and transmit child pornography in any electronic form but also to browse it.
The punishment for a first offence of publishing, creating, exchanging, downloading, or browsing any electronic depiction of children in “obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner” can attract five years in jail and a fine of Rs.10 lakh. An official said a repeat offence would attract imprisonment of seven years and a fine of Rs.10 lakh.