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On a wing and a prayer! 864 investigators, 73,739 cases

LAHORE: The Investigations Wing of the Lahore police is facing a daunting challenge of curbing crime, with just 864 investigation officers to handle a staggering 73,739 cases.

Ironically, the Punjab government which boasts governance achievements has failed to look into this vital aspect of policing. The figures show the pathetic situation of under-staffing and a lack of resources for the Lahore police department.

According to statistics, a total of 21,916 cases were registered till October this year about crime against property, 26,167 about local and special laws, 2,599 about crime against persons besides miscellaneous cases.

The Punjab Police rules say only a police official from the rank of assistant sub-inspector to inspector can conduct investigation of a case. Out of the 3,821 officials of the Lahore police’s investigations wing, 71 are inspectors, 414 sub-inspectors and 379 ASIs. The other helping/allied staff includes 656 head constables and 2,301 constables.

These figures are presented in monthly departmental meetings, in law and order sessions and even at forums where Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presides but every time these statistics are overlooked.

The situation has gone worse as the police authorities have sent more than 800 IOs and helping staff of the Investigations Wing to the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA). Although the CIA has welcomed 800 investigation officers, it seems reluctant to share burden of the investigations wing.

The wing further suffered a blow when more than 60 highly experienced investigation officers were transferred to the homicide investigation units (HIUs) which have been established to deal with murder cases. These sub-inspectors had been declared “best brains” of the wing and their services were officially recommended when senior experts picked them up from the police stations of the city for the HIUs.

A senior police officer told Dawn that the investigation of criminal cases was a gigantic task which ranged from collection of evidence, arrest of suspects and completion of investigation to charge them. Unfortunately, he said, the detectives of this wing were not equipped with resources including gadgets to help collect forensic evidence, designated transport and other variety of technologies to conduct investigation on modern lines.

He said a majority of the available IOs was either lacking professional competence or was known as officials having bad repute. As a result, he said, heinous crime cases mostly remained untraced.

The official said the department had requested many times through various proposals recruitment of more experienced and trained IOs but nothing had been done so far. “The Investigations Wing is in dire need of 5,000 trained and professional detectives,” he said.

Sharing a short-term solution, he said the police authorities should immediately transfer some cases to the CIA which was having 30pc staff of the Investigations Wing but conducting investigation of only three per cent cases. The CIA’s actual responsibility is to deal with organised crime and it can effectively share the burden of the wing in question.

CCPO Amin Wains said the police department had taken many initiatives to share burden of the Investigations Wing like many cases were transferred to the homicide units and Anti-Vehicle Lifting Squad. Similarly, he said, cases were being handled by the CIA.

“We have recently received a new batch of 100 highly trained officers to help raise standard of investigation,” he said. He claimed that murder cases had decreased this year due to several initiatives.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2015