Police lack funds for murder investigations

Homicide investigators say they are neglected by government

Arsalan Altaf July 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD: As murder and other fatal crime cases rise in the capital, homicide investigators of the police have not been provided investigation funds for months despite increasing caseload.

The homicide investigation unit (HIU) was designed and set up by Islamabad police’s former Inspector General Tariq Masood Yasin in September last year, as the police said such investigations were not being given proper attention and time at the police station level. The new unit was tasked with investigating murders, deaths in road accidents as well as suicide cases. The ex-IGP had promised to ensure funds, equipment, and staff for the unit. Each of the five HIU teams was provided a specially-designed and well-equipped vehicle, and an advanced revolving fund of Rs35,000. More crucially, the IGP had promised that each of the five HIU teams would be assigned not more than 20 murder cases in a year in order to ensure proper handling of every homicide case. “This [new HIU unit] will be the difference between normal policing and professional policing,” Yasin had remarked at inauguration of the unit last October.

However, sources have told The Express Tribune that many of the promises made to HIU by the ex-IGP were reneged after he was transferred from Islamabad.

Police to try paperless work environment

“Nothing was ensured after the IGP Yasin left. We were initially provided Rs50,000 as investigation fund but it was one-off payment. Since then my team has incurred more than Rs0.2 million in investigation but have not been reimbursed,” one homicide investigator said.

Lack of funds is not the only issue facing HIU. Officials say that they are overburdened and the cap of only 20 cases-a-year was not being ensured. One officer said that he had been assigned 17 murder and 22 fatal road accident cases this year so far.

Officials said that vehicles which were initially given to HIU teams were also withdrawn later, only to be given back to them only recently. Each of five teams comprises an inspector, a sub-inspector, an ASI and three constables. However, full strength was also not being ensured for each team.

Another officer said that caseload could be managed if road accident cases are taken out and re-assigned to police stations. “Homicide investigation units in other provinces deal with murder and suicide cases only, while death in road accidents are handled at the police station level,” he said. A point to note is that more than 120 deaths have been reported by the Islamabad Police in murder and road accident cases combined this year so far.

Too many bosses to deal with

It has also been learnt that HIU has too many bosses to report to which is hampering their performance. “Initially, we worked under SP Investigation but later on zonal SPs were also given jurisdiction
over HIU.

Now several SPs and SDPOs apart from the SSP office simultaneously seek reports from us and most of our time is spent in these reports and meetings,” another official said.

A senior police officer also confirmed that HIU was faced with shortage of investigation funds. He said there was a need to further strengthen homicide investigation unit. He said despite limited resources, the unit had performed very well though.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2017.


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