Taking a leaf out of a New York Police Department programme, Calcutta Police has expanded its network of informers to include an 'unofficial' escort services wing. About 230 call girls have been brought into the detective department fold to provide information about people suspected to be involved in crime, said an officer.
'We decided to seek the help of call girls as criminals have a tendency to spend time with them. In several cases in the past, information about criminals on the run came from red-light areas like Sonagachhi and Kalighat. The call girl wing was being planned for a couple of years,' the officer revealed.
The police brass had approached officers of the women's wing to pose as escorts. Few had agreed, saying that they hail from decent families and did not want to get close to undesirable elements to fish out information.
'From the middle of 2003, professional escorts, in batches of five, were trained for three months on self-defence, use of firearms and how to pass on information about suspicious characters to the sleuths. Some of the call girls in the wing know each other, but have no idea about the officers involved in a particular mission. All the escorts have been given fictitious names. They have been instructed not to divulge their real name under any circumstance,' the officer added.
Calcutta Police have also teamed up with a mobile service provider to provide cellular phones to the escorts. The phones are meant to be used only to pass on information to the cops.
'The call girls are entitled to a monthly allowance of between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,500. Though their appointment is not official and they cannot be considered a part of the police force, they are being paid a decent amount to keep them on the job,' the officer observed.
'I am allowed to carry on with my work. This allowance comes as an extra income, which I can save. If I can pass on information that helps police to nab a criminal, I get an incentive. The job has an element of risk attached to it, but since I am not in a particularly pleasant profession, I have no complaints,' said an escort working for the police.
According to the officers, since these escorts are not officially a part of the police force, they cannot be paid from the funds allotted to the department by the state government. 'We have to arrange for the allowances of these girls through other means. We have assured them of timely payment and have not defaulted till now,' held an officer.
'We get information from various sources, including from those who chance upon acts of crime. Our sources are not restricted to call girls only. We have enough funds to pay our informers,' asserted deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Gyanwant Singh.