The State police will install high resolution infrared camera systems in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode cities to ensure the safety of the travelling public, chiefly women, in badly lit urban localities after dark.
The Keltron will implement the project, to be partly funded by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP).
The “special purpose” cameras will have motion sensors and enhanced night vision capabilities. They will augment the existing camera surveillance network of the State police. It will be monitored from central police control rooms in the three metro cities, S.P. Gopakumar, project manager, Keltron, said. In the capital, the new camera system, in its initial phase, will cover East Fort, Attakulangara, Manacaud, Thampanoor, Ayurveda College, Statue, LMS, PMG, Pattom, Kesavadasapuram, Ulloor and Medical College localities.
The Medical College campus, which is frequented by patients and their helpers, including women, during all hours will be brought entirely under surveillance camera cover.
A senior police official said the new camera system would help instil a sense of security among commuters and daunt petty criminals.
The majority of cases relating to harassment of women in public places were registered under the head “outraging the modesty of women”. According to the State police, as many as 3,735 “molestation” cases were registered in 2012. The figure till August 2013 was 2,963. However, only a fraction of such offences were often reported to the police.
According to Sakhi, a resource centre for women, 98 per cent of women commuters the organisation had interviewed last year had identified sexual harassment in public transport buses, bus stops, and roadsides as the main safety problem.
As many as 51 per cent feared potential chain-snatchers (mostly helmeted youth travelling on motorbikes). Verbal abuse was the most common form of sexual harassment (80 per cent), followed by physical harassment (60 per cent), stalking (26 per cent), and exhibitionism (21 per cent).
The survey also revealed that only 7 per cent of the victims sought police intervention and it was mostly witnesses who informed the law-enforcement. It also noted that 77 per cent of women were loath to approach the police. As many as 38 per cent of the respondents felt approaching the police was ‘too tedious’.
The fallout was that women felt insecure when they accessed a wide range of municipal facilities, including parks, public toilets, bus stops and market places.
State Police Chief K.S. Balasubramanian is heading the project.