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Police safety tips for 376 flats

The security threat to a housing estate doesn’t end just with deploying an agency. Residents have to make sure the agency is registered.

The observation came from a Calcutta police team which carried out an inspection in a housing estate on the Rashbehari connector in Kasba on Sunday as part of the Metro campaign for safer highrises.

In July, 93-year-old Shanta Bhattacharya was killed during a burglary masterminded by the security supervisor of her residential complex in Ultadanga.

Sunday’s recce by the cops was a pointer to how small lapses — matters that are easily overlooked — could hamper an investigation in case the protectors turns predators.

Where: Neelachal Abasan at 98 Rajdanga Ruby Park. The 13-tower estate with G+4 buildings is spread over six acres and has 376 flats.

When: The team from Lalbazar spent over two hours in the complex from 6.30pm on Sunday briefing residents on the security dos and don’ts.

Who: The team comprised Satyajit Banerjee, the assistant commissioner-I of police, south suburban division, Dipankar Chakraborty, the assistant commissioner of police, special task force, Gautam Chatterjee, the officer-in-charge of Kasba police station, and R. Roy Chowdhury, the additional officer-in-charge of the Kasba traffic guard.

WHAT THE POLICE SAW

Security arrangements

  • The compound wall is eight feet high with two feet of barbed wire on top.
  • A security team of 23 guards, including two women from a local agency, East Calcutta Security Guards Association, working in three shifts — from 6am to 2pm, 2pm to 10pm and 10pm to 6am. The main gate has three guards at one point and three guards are posted at each of the three corner buildings.
  • Intercom connecting flats to the security office at the main gate and the housing society’s office. The network also connects each flat.
  • A logbook at the gate maintaining details of visitors and whom they want to visit; use of the intercom to confirm a visitor’s identity with each resident.
  • Use of a car sticker issued by the society for every resident’s car.

Lapses

The security agency is not registered. “It is an association of local boys who have been here for the past 13 years, ever since the complex came up,” said Himangshu Majumdar, the spokesperson for the security association. “There has been no major incident in the past few years but we will renew our registration. Till August, we were under the jurisdiction of the Bengal police and the rules weren’t that strict.”

Absence of closed-circuit television cameras. “We are in the process of installing three cameras — two at the main gate and another at the service gate. These will be installed by Sashthi,” said U.K. Ghosh, the chairman of the Neelachal Abasan Co-operative Society. “A survey has revealed that installing cameras at the boundary is not the ideal solution because of trees, so we will install beam detectors, which detect shadows and sounds an alarm at the security office.”

Only about 100 flats have peepholes and door chains.

No information on domestic workers and drivers. “Particulars of domestic workers and drivers were initially maintained. They were also given identity cards, but when the new domestic helps and drivers were employed, the information was not updated with the society office,” said Ghosh.

WHAT THEy recommended

The security agency has to be registered and the local police station should have all the information. “It is important to have their antecedents, as in many cases, a crime occurs through them. In the Ultadanga housing estate under Maniktala police station, the criminals had gained access to the estate through the security guards. If the police have the records, they can immediately identify the offender and take action,” said Banerjee.

“It is a must to keep the particulars of the domestic helps you are employing, along with his or her photograph. The photo should be clicked in a standing position so that we can gauge the height of the person later if we need to,” said Banerjee. “For the verification of an outstation address, you can send a money order to the address provided by the domestic help. If it comes back, you would realise that the address provided was fictitious.”

Each flat should have a door chain and peephole. In addition, a video door phone with an outdoor camera should be installed, said members of the police team. “It enables you to see and speak to the person at the door over the telephone and to open the door only if you know that person. If you try to talk to a person from the gap of a door chain, the intruder might attack you,” said Banerjee.

The control room numbers and the local police station numbers should be in each and every flat, said the team.

Every family should fill up these security checklists and submit these to the Kasba police station.

FLATOWNERS’ QUESTIONS

(Answers provided by the police team)

Q: What is the registration of a security agency and how does it help?

A: The security agency has submitted their details with the government and are subsequently accessible by us.

Q: How do we tackle a courier?

A: You should open the door keeping the door chain secured but keep yourself hidden behind the door, so that the person cannot injure you.

Q: Can’t the domestic workers be asked to give their ration or voters’ identity card?

A: It is not foolproof, as you cannot verify whether the person is revealing his or her true identity. The ration card could be someone else’s.

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