‘Residents can write to me if a cop asks for bribe; system has become more transparent’
As senior IPS officer Prabhat Ranjan completes 10 months as police commissioner of Navi Mumbai this week, he talks to HT about his experiences, achievements and future plans as top cop of the satellite city.
As police commissioner of Navi Mumbai, what areas did you mostly concentrate on in the past 10 months?
After resuming office, I analysed the city’s overall law and order situation and the crime scenario, which helped me zero in on four areas that needed attention. These are improving the service delivery system, reducing street crimes, increasing conviction rates and creating awareness about terror-related activities. We have put in maximum efforts to achieve these and have succeeded.
What measures have you taken to improve the service?
We roped in two external agencies, which conducted a survey in all the police stations under our commissionerate. The agencies sent their own personnel posing as common citizens to get a firsthand experience of police stations. The survey revealed that none of our officials asked for bribe to register a complaint or answer their queries. The treatment they received from our officials was not bad, but not excellent either. According to the survey, our officials send people from one police station to another for different works. So, we are training our officials on how they should treat people who approach the police station. The officials holding charge of the station (thane amaldars) play a crucial role in this regard. So, we are training seniors as well as the junior officers.
After receiving the agencies’ reports, do you have some other improvement plans in mind?
We are planning to introduce a feedback mechanism. The mechanism will comprise three stages. In the first stage, people will have to fill a feedback form at the police station. In the second stage, a centralised team of senior officers may contact the people or vice versa to know their reactions. In the third stage, we may hire an external agency to strengthen the grievance redressal system.
Do you think you have achieved success in reducing street crimes and increasing the conviction
Yes, we did. We have been successful in both these cases. We succeeded in reducing chain snatching cases by 33% last year. While 297 chain-snatching cases were reported in 2014, only 196 cases were reported in 2015. In 2014, our conviction rate was just 54.05%. It increased to 60.90% in 2015. In the first three months this year, our conviction rate is 61.60%.
What factors do you think have helped reduce street crimes?
The closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in the city have played a major role here. With the help of the intelligence inputs, we busted a few gangs that helped solve maximum cases. With the arrest of one gang, we detected 40-odd chain snatching cases. We are also sharing inputs from Thane and Mumbai police and are trying to keep offenders in jail for long. In one such effort, we applied MCOCA charges on a gang of chain snatchers.
Creating awareness about terrorism was one of your priorities.
When it comes to terrorism, Mumbai is vulnerable. As a city adjacent to Mumbai, we need to stay alert to prevent becoming a target. We have spread awareness among women and senior citizens, who are at home most of the time. We sensitised inhabitants of coastal villages by organising programmes.
You said that safety of women and creating a sense of security are essential for effective policing. Any step in that direction?
Navi Mumbai offers people of all ages a peaceful city to live in. Women roam around the streets late in the evenings, which is a rare sight in many other cities across the country. Apart from increasing police presence on roads, we took some measures to ensure that women can interact with us without hesitation. Some of our measures include: being available on networking sites, launching our own website, twitter account, mobile app and WhatsApp helpline number. I receive a number of mails from residents every day and forward them to the department concerned to attend to the issues. People can write to me if any policeman asks for bribe. The entire system has become more transparent.