Police stations to turn child-friendly

Police bid to cast off their bogeyman image

November 14, 2017 12:30 am | Updated 09:42 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Illus: for TH_sreejith r.kumar

Illus: for TH_sreejith r.kumar

The uniformed police officer is for most children a frightening bogeyman. Parents often use the intimidating image of the stern-faced khaki-clad law enforcer to scare children into submission.

The Kerala Police are now making an effort to cast off the long-established public impression. They have embarked on a project to make at least one police station in every district ‘child-friendly.’

At the Fort police station in the capital, work is on to create a child-only enclave with a play area complete with toys, colourful posters, and illustrated comic books.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is scheduled to inaugurate the facility, the first of its kind in the State, on Tuesday.

Commissioner of Police, Thiruvananthapuram City, P. Prakash told The Hindu that the changes were not merely cosmetic.

Trained police officers, working alongside volunteers from non-profit organisations with expertise in child protection, will henceforth tend to children in need of care and protection. They will also handle with finesse juveniles who find themselves in conflict with the law. Their body language will be different from officers the public often encounter at the average police station. For one, the officers have been trained not to alarm children with aggressive gestures, eye movements or expressions.

Their brief is to make children feel at home. At no point, will the officers engage in any physical contact with the juvenile or violate their personal space. They will strike a manner of speech which will be at once reassuring and informative to the children. The enclave will have toilet and drinking water facilities. It will not be a detention facility and officers will work in the civil dress.

A team led by Inspector General of Police P. Vijayan has also streamlined the legal processes to be followed once the law comes into contact with children.

The police have often come under harsh criticism for using the socio-economic and caste background of youngsters as a yardstick to gauge their innocence or culpability. Often parents and social context are blamed for the plight of juveniles. The police hope the new initiative will change all that and set the force in a new direction.

State Police Chief Loknath Behera is supervising the scheme.

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