The decision of the police to ensure free registration of crimes is a relief to the public, writes V.S. Palaniappan

The decision of the West Zone Police to ensure that no complainant is sent away without registering a First Information Report (FIR) on a complaint regarding a cognisable offence has resulted in the number of FIRs shooting up every day.

During August 2006, the West Zone recorded 2,488 complaints, but from August 1 to 16 this year, the number has reached 2,064.

The number of FIRs relating to property offences has gone up slightly as the police have started accepting old complaints and also complaints of stolen property with very low value.

As part of the Police Image Project, Inspector-General of Police, West Zone, K. Rajendran, recently issued directions to the unit officers in 277 police stations in 41 sub-divisions across the seven districts in the West Zone (Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem rural district, Namakkal, Erode, Coimbatore Rural and the Nilgiris district) that all complaints relating to cognisable offences should be accepted and FIRs registered. So far, the whip has been cracked on 44 police officers of whom four head constables have been suspended while the rest in the rank of inspectors and sub-inspectors have been dealt on a charge memo for delaying the registration of FIRs and dodging complainants.

Across the Zone, there are 3,000 head constables i.e., writers designated as receptionist-cum-FIR registration officers and over 1,000 inspectors and SIs. Hence the inability to investigate the complaints because of workload or soaring crime graph could never be the reason for them turning down complaints, the IG said. Hitherto, in the event of a vehicle theft, if it met with an accident at the hands of the person lifting it, the owner would have to face the consequences. But with an FIR proving that the vehicle had been stolen the owner could not only absolve himself of the risk but could also proceed with insurance claim. Earlier, in the event of theft of two-wheelers, cycles, cellular phones, cameras and wrist watches the public used to find it difficult to get their complaints registered. But now, the practice of police officers deciding on the merit of the complaint before filing FIR has been brought to an end.