'Mumbai cops grapple manpower crunch in face of rising crime'

Mumbai Police continue to grapple with manpower crunch, even as figures show a rise in incidents of crime in country's commercial capital, particularly rape and molestation cases.

NGO Praja Foundation has collected this information under RTI, which also reveals that the acquittal rate is a shocking 83 per cent in the year 2011-12.

The police force, tasked with protecting a city of over two crore, remains 18 per cent short of the sanctioned strength of 41,401 personnel as on July 2012, while cases of rape and molestation rose by 15 per cent to 207 and 14 per cent to 552 respectively in April 2011-March 2012, compared to last year, the data shows.

Only one per cent police posts were filled since September last year, whereas police control room has 127 personnel or 47 per cent of the required manpower.

The NGO also feels that city police needs to augment its investigation prowess as it claimed a total 1,61,528 cases gone into trial during April 2011-March 2012 and the acquittal rate was a shocking 83 per cent.

"On these, 44,874 cases were serious offences such as murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction that went into trial during the same period, while judgement was pronounced only in 3,275 cases. The police could get a conviction on only 335 cases while 90 per cent of prosecution cases were acquitted," said Nitai Mehta, founder trustee of the NGO.

Of the total 71,425 cases filed in Mumbai during 2011-12, 18 per cent (a total of 12,762) cases were related to serious offences. Of these serious offences, only 45 per cent (a total of 5,772) cases were sent for trial. The rest are pending investigation.

For higher conviction, Mehta added, "One of the remedial measures could be to separate investigation of crime from regular law and order duties. Let the probe wing in each police station not be bogged by bandobast and nakabandi duties."

A 25 per cent of those surveyed by Praja feel unsafe in the city. South and North Central Mumbai residents from posh areas like Dadar, Worli as well as those from Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world, feel more unsafe compared to locals staying in other parts of the city, the NGO claims.

The general trend over the last four years is that crime rate has more or less stabilised in the city at the current level, it added.

India's police are governed by archaic and colonial police laws harking back to 1861. There has been almost 30 years of debate on policing and reforms in India, with commission after commission submitting reports and recommendations to governments. Each report has gone unimplemented, the NGO added.

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