Sensitisation workshops for the police have become a regular feature, as NGOs and law-enforcers embrace a more synergistic approach to safeguarding the rights of vulnerable populations. The most recent has been a two-day training on child abuse and neglect and stress for police officers, conducted by representatives from a cross-section of organisations working with these issues.
An audience of deputy superintendents, inspectors and sub-inspectors from the Calcutta and West Bengal forces attended the meet at the Salt Lake police training centre, covering issues as varied as corporal punishment of children to sexual abuse, trafficking of minors to policy on child rights. Organised by Metropolitan Institute for Developmental Studies and Welfare (MIDSW) and the Institute for Development Studies and Welfare, the seminar was funded by the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, USA.
“The problem with upholding child rights laws in India is that there is no data about the kind of abuse that happens. So, we want to create awareness about how law-enforcers can use the tools at their disposal to safeguard rights,” explained Sibnath Deb of MIDSW and faculty of the department of applied psychology, Calcutta University.
Similar awareness programmes are being conducted at the school-level as well.
The notion that the police are necessarily negligent or careless is something working against the system. “The perpetrators often go free, but that is due to lack of information and infrastructure,” Deb said.
One of the findings of the workshop was that the West Bengal Police had less access to some of the relevant information which the Calcutta Police had found useful.
“For instance, they did not have details about the remand homes run by NGOs, where rescued children are sent.” Gaps like this, he added, could be filled easily by the agencies concerned.
Serve, Sanlaap, Socio-Legal Aid and Unicef were some of the participating NGOs. Justice Mukul Gopal Mukherjee, chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, discussed the strengths, weaknesses and effective implementation of the juvenile justice Act of 2000.
Director-general of police (training) P.K. Vinayak also commissioned the organising NGOs to incorporate elements of stress management for cops.