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News : Too Many Police Helplines to Remember
Kolkata, India, Aug 5, 2015 -- A few days ago, a housewife's call was diverted from one government office to another when she tried to complain about a bag lying abandoned outside a mall. She was one of those lucky few who managed to get her message across. Calls of most of the citizens, however, go unattended as there are plenty of 'emergency' numbers, each claiming to serve a specific purpose. But in reality, so many numbers are doing more harm than good. Even police brass has woken up to the problem and promised to chalk out a 'solution' soon.
At present, Kolkata Police has around 14 numbers — four to 10 digits each - to cater to specific calls from various sections of society, including women and senior citizens. Take the example the traffic helplines. While Vodafone users can use two numbers, non-Vodafone users can call another from mobile phones. There are another six mobile numbers and four landline numbers.
But if you want to inform cops about anything, you are advised to call 1090. Women are encouraged to call 1091 and senior citizens asked to call 9830088884. Yet, Lalbazar has kept 13 dedicated lines to contact them that are different from their three control room numbers. The traffic control room has another two sets of landline numbers while the detective department and each division have different control room numbers.
"We have understood that it is difficult for people, especially in times of distress, to remember so many numbers. Hence, we are planning to integrate the numbers with help from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) so that the emergency number — 100 — can divert calls to respective desks just like Delhi Police. Ideally, there should be just one platform whose number the public can remember and can interact with the police," said an IPS officer.
In fact, in Delhi, calls to 100 can be traced by the mobile Police Control Vehicles (PCRs) that are on road. "As such, after every crime committed there, the PCR arrives at the scene of occurrence first, even before the local police," said Rajan Bhagat, DCP (PR), Delhi police.
Sources said the decision for integration came after it was found that many callers don't get help because they mix up the helpline numbers or cannot give specific locations and descriptions. Moreover, these helplines are manned variously by police, fire brigade and the municipal and health departments. One probable example is the medical helpline which operates under 98300799999. Also, there may be a situation where multiple agencies need to be contacted.
Even the police research bureau notes that Dial 100 is no more than a fire-fighting mechanism. "In most places it operates as a standalone system without integrating all policing related inputs," a report says.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Kolkata Police:
The Kolkata Police Force is one of the six police forces of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata Police has the task of policing the metropolitan area of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, as defined under the Calcutta Police Act, 1866 and the Calcutta Suburban Police Act,1866.
Published: Friday, August 7, 2015