Calcutta police are using camera surveillance to get cops to behave better with citizens inside police stations.
All 65 police stations in Lalbazar’s area of operation are being fitted with three closed-circuit television cameras each to keep the men and women in uniform on their best behaviour.
Lalbazar’s brainchild, Project Video Wall, is the outcome of a spate of complaints in recent months about alleged harassment of citizens visiting police stations to lodge complaints. The first such complaint that the police brass took note of was by the victim in the Park Street rape case, who had accused some officers of mocking her while she was narrating her ordeal (see chart).
“We often cannot take action for want of proof. The only way we can keep tabs on our personnel in police stations is by installing CCTVs,” said a senior officer at the police headquarters.
Writers’ has cleared the project and the required equipment has arrived for installation. “We are spending Rs 1 crore on this and it should be worth the money and effort,” the officer said.
One of the cameras will focus on the entrance to each police station and a second one will cover the room where the duty officer sits. The third camera will be in the lock-up.
Cameras in these three locations will help track a visitor’s experience from the moment he or she steps into a police station. The footage will be retained for 15 days.
“The footage recorded by the camera at the entrance should tell us whether any attempt was made to turn away a complainant. The duty officer’s behaviour towards the person will be recorded by the second camera,” the officer said.
The camera in the lock-up is meant to show if anyone has been assaulted or abused behind bars.
“The audio may not be of high quality but the gestures and general body language of the complainant and the cops should work as adequate evidence in the event of a complaint about harassment,” said a Lalbazar honcho involved in the project.
The offices of the deputy commissioners of all eight divisions will have screens to monitor the footage.
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