Miracles have started to happen

Imagine for a moment, you are a “common man” in Pakistan, without having any influence, money or link to the higher authorities. Now, a rival of yours has registered a false FIR against you and you have been arrested by the police. What will happen to you next?

Proving yourself innocent would be a long-haul as the traditional police and judicial system takes a long time to determine the fate of a defendant.

But what if I tell you that you can deal with such a situation miraculously, since technology has been made use of by Punjab Police in helping the citizens in Pakistan?

Province-wide online Police Complaint Centre has been introduced by the Punjab Inspector General Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera in February this year, which has proved to be a revolutionary change in traditional policing and public service system. Mostly people complain about the rude and unsupportive behaviour of the police personnel, bribery, denial of FIR, registering a false FIR, faulty investigations etc.

But now, using modern means of communication like SMS, Call, Email and Web, you can register the complaint against these problems in an online database accessible to both the higher ranked police officials to take necessary action and to the complainant for further follow-up of the application through tracking. This not only makes the process paper-less and environment friendly but retrieval of the records is also quite easy for police officials.

A complaint can be registered by Calling 8787, sending an SMS or an email and also through website. A public-friendly pool of IT oriented young men and women receive complaints at Police Complaint Centre and forward the complaint to the officer of the rank of not less than DSP. An SMS with name and details of the officer concerned is sent to the complainant also. Police officers of the respective region are bound to provide feedback within eight hours of the filing of the complaint.

Complaint Centre takes follow-up from the complainant by calling them and ensures that they are contacted by the officer concerned. Follow-up on complaints is also regularly checked in system and “not-responding” officers are called to respond on the issue. After complete investigation of the issue, the officer concerned submits their report through online system. The complainant is asked if they are satisfied with it. If the answer is “No”, the level of investigation is upgraded to a higher ranked officer. The process continues and the complaint is not disposed-off until the complainant is satisfied.

The system is being monitored at multiple levels from Complaint Centre to the IGP. Police officials of all ranks are held accountable if any laxity is shown. Departmental action is taken against the officers who intentionally do not redress complaints of the public.

Complaints AIG Syed Khurram Ali, supervising the IGP’s Police Complaint Centre at Central Police Office, shared the objectives of this initiative:

People used to travel hundreds of miles from far-flung areas to submit their complaints in-person to the Police IG in open courts or used to send their applications through traditional by-post channel which took a lot of time and the response was very late. The Police Complaint Centre is serving the citizens through digital means of communication which not only saves their time and money but also helps in speedy remedy to their complaints. Quick response, follow-up and feedback mechanism, well-monitored system, accountability of the police officers, tempering-free software and most importantly, satisfaction of the complainants are some of the valuable features of this Police Complaint Centre.

Around 14000 complaints have been registered since inception of the Police Complaint Centre in February, 2016, through different sources. 71% complaints have been disposed off while the remaining 29% are in process. Such high complaints’ disposal rate has proved that the latest use of technology by the Punjab police to address public grievances is very effective.

Out of the resolved complaints, 37% complaints were disposed off  as a result of redressing of the complaints, 35% complaints proved to be false,  15% resolved on a compromise between both the parties while 13% complaints were on  non-cognisable issues where police cannot directly intervene.

Responsible citizens are requested to not use 8787 as an emergency number as it does not deal such situations. Any citizen who has an emergency and needs police help should immediately call “15”. All other complaints relating to police should be registered by calling 8787 so that citizens are provided with maximum help by police authorities to redress their complaints. - Shahnawaz Sarmad

(Dunya News)