The Lahore police operations deputy inspector general (DIG) has ordered registration of cases of heinous offences like murder, attempt to murder and rape within eight hours after an application is received.
The official has devised a mechanism with deadlines for the registration of complaints according to nature of the offence and their monitoring through e-tags.
DIG Ahsan Younis issued the instructions after noting that the number of criminal cases registered in recent months was substantially lower than the incidents reported on a helpline.
The city police allegedly did not register more than 20,000 cases to avoid criticism over their performance.
The DIG warned all SPs, SDPOs and SHOs to improve their performance in this regard within a week.
The official while speaking to The Express Tribune said that when he reviewed the data of emergency helpline 15 after assuming the post recently, it was revealed that about 2,600 calls about motorcycle theft had been received during October, while only 450 cases had been registered.
Similarly, only 150 cases of burglary and robbery in houses were registered despite 1,200 phone calls received about such incidents.
On the other hand, the city police registered nearly 2,000 cases of snatching of goods by unarmed suspects, despite the fact that about half the number of calls for emergency help regarding such incidents had been received during the month.
The police officers apparently preferred to force the complainants to lodge cases of minor crimes to keep their record better.
The DIG also disclosed that the officers assigned inquiries during open katcheries events used to refer them to subordinates rather than look into the issues themselves. Such officials mostly submitted reports received from the sub inspectors and ASIs that favoured the staff.
DIG Ahsan Younis said the situation was not so bad when he served in the provincial capital in the past as an ASP and SP. Under the new mechanism, the SHO will be responsible for the registration of the case and a check list of seven questions has to be filled according to the nature of the complaint.
As the complaint will be entered into the computerised complaint management system, an e-tag specifying the time span will be issued. The countdown will commence right after the application is entered into the record.
If the stipulated time span is not followed, it will pop up on the system of the supervisory and senior officers.
Ahsan said eight-hour time had been specified for offences like murder, attempt to murder, rape, molestation and abduction for ransom.
He said a delay in registration of such cases not only impeded the investigations but created hurdles for getting justice for the complainant in the trial. The delay also causes a loss of evidence. For example, if a medical examination is not conducted at the earliest in a sexual assault case, the forensic evidence starts losing authenticity.
A few years back, an SSP of Lahore had stressed the term ‘golden hour’. It referred to the first hour after a murder as golden as the most important time for collecting evidence and getting leads to the culprit. In cases like abduction, the victim becomes more vulnerable with time. DIG Younis has set a 24-hour limit for registration of FIRs of robbery, dacoity and theft.
Cases of hurling threats and trespassing have to be registered within three days.
The official has asked for immediate registration of reports regarding the loss of non-financial documents. If a citizen presents an affidavit in the approved format of the loss of financial documents like a checkbook, vehicle documents, sale deed or agreement, the report will be registered immediately.
Younis warned the inquiry officers not to ask the applicant any unnecessary questions other than those in the checklist related to the offence.
Details of the policy with complaint numbers have been displayed in all police stations of the provincial metropolis.
A senior police officer said the approach of evaluating police performance on the basis of the number of crimes had pushed officials to conceal incidents.
The DIG also said he had directed all SHOs to be present at their police stations from 4pm to 6pm with monitoring of compliance through CCTV.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2021.
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