What ‘crime’ did we commit, ask Chennai police personnel

Chennai: If you see an inspector in the crime wing driving a police vehicle while on duty, don’t get surprised. Even as law and order (L&O) inspectors have a large team of sub-inspectors and constables at their disposal, the crime department feels neglected.

A crime inspector, on condition of anonymity, said, “You can go from station to station in the city and see it for yourself. There will be an inspector on duty with one sub-inspector or two constables. The actual team is as large as 15-20 personnel per station, but they are deputed on ‘other duties’. Some will be sent for special duty, some to assistant commissioner’s (AC) office and to deputy commissioner’s (DC) office. The strength is so less and rules laid down by the British era are still being followed.”

Another drawback is lack of facilities: the vehicles are not maintained and often do not have a driver. “We are severely short-staffed when compared to L&O and traffic wings.”

The crime section takes care of cases such as murder for gain, robbery, dacoity, theft, cheating, finance- related disputes, snatching offences and so on.

The inspector has responsibilities, including filing FIR, visiting the spot, examining witnesses, collecting documents and materials, and charge-sheeting, all with limited manpower and facilities. As a result, they find the situation demotivating. Many rue that in Coimbatore there are different ACs and DCs for crime and L&O, whereas in Chennai, all offices are central which, they say, is another drawback.

Speaking on the issue, Assistant Commissioner, Guindy, Pandiyan, said, “It is not just for crime wing, all over the State, there is shortage of 10-25 per cent of police personnel. As far as L&O is concerned, there is a lot of work to be done. For patrolling, five vehicles are required per station to cover different sectors in each station. Apart from this, manpower is required for beat patrol. The L&O division carries out bandobust for processions, protests, VIP visits and any sudden turn of events.”

He added that the crime wing has just one duty: crime detection; and, hence, they do not necessarily have to be in full strength.

Another higher official said, “Crime has largely been controlled in the city. In some stations, hardly two cases are reported daily, while in many other places only one to two cases get reported in a week. And they, too, they are mostly snatching offences. Moreover, many policemen prefer working in L&O than crime. They ask for a transfer as well. This is why the teams get smaller and officials have to do all the work themselves.”

Naomi N