Society & police triumphed over Covid-19: Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Pandey
Pandey was speaking to Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, as part of the Visionary Talk series
Crediting the citizens of Mumbai for coming forward to help the police in combating the crisis situation due to Covid-19 pandemic, Mumbai Police commissioner Sanjay Pandey has said that the force lost quite a few policemen during pandemic but cumulative efforts where citizens worked hand-in-hand with the police helped tide over the situation.
“Several good Samaritans came forward to help the police in discharging their duties even helping set up tents at different locations and providing sanitizers and masks. The cumulative efforts where citizens worked hand-in-hand with the police helped the society and police forces triumph over Covid-19,” he said.
Pandey was in a conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, during the webcast of Visionary Talk series held by the public policy and governance analysis platform.
Responding to a range of questions, Mumbai’s top cop said the pandemic not only changed changed the manner in which criminals operate but also how civilians behave. “There was lot of focus on e-commerce and work went digital for most people. As compared to pre-pandemic times, offences too changed to digital during the pandemic, and this has been a major shift,” Pandey said.
Secondly, he said many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and we are now noticing that organized criminals are now also committing petty crimes, which was not the case otherwise. “On one side digital crimes have increased, on the other side, there is also an increase in street crimes.”
While speaking on cyber security, Pandey added that territories of cybercrime far transcend boundaries of countries and hence also transcend various laws that exist in India.
“The laws can be different and coordinated relationships can also be different. Cyber crime is a huge challenge as proxies are used to launch attacks or ransomware by cyber criminals. The aspect of jurisdiction has to be sorted out, and internationally, we should come on a common platform. Only when countries look at this aspect can we handle cyber crime otherwise it is getting more and more difficult.”
On being asked how he updates cyber security skills of his team members to keep them at par with global standards, Pandey said his teams have been trained at national-level institutes like the Bureau of Police Research and Development besides undergoing training at the local level also.
Pandey added that for strengthening police administration across the country, a Model Police Act needs to be enacted “but it’s a long way to go”.
While responding to a question on how police is dealing with financial crimes since the onset of the pandemic, Pandey said more particularly Covid has thrown a challenge for economic crimes related to reality sector where people have invested money in houses and could not get their possession on time. There is much anxiety and police has received many complaints of delays in the real estate sector.
Pandey, who has been receiving several complaints of corruption and harassment by members of housing societies in Mumbai, said engagement with citizens has been the hallmark of Mumbai policing. He recalled that during Mumbai riots in 1992 when he was DCP, the police would have very good interactions with mohalla committees. Over a period of time, ALMs (advanced locality managements) were formed to look at the management of housing societies and municipal facilities.
“So, what we have done recently is we have converged the ALM and mohalla committees and we have formed citizens forums with people from every ward representing all walks of life. Today, we have a forum head as well who works independently as well as in coordination with the police. This is something that we have done over the last four months. Our story is old, but it has been moulded in a newer avatar with the name of Citizens Forum akin to international standards,” he said.
On being asked how police is adapting technology for internal security, he said they have been evaluating Artificial Intelligence products for facial recognition and mapping of crime and criminal data. He, however, added that as of now these products have not been implemented and they are still in the evaluation stage.
Blockchain, he said, holds good promise for passport and character verification and can be a major boon, but the police is yet to adopt this technology.
He further explained that while the police is looking to adopt and purchase the best available technology it is not looking at PPP where the technology provider is providing free software but for example, taking money for issuing every traffic challan. “Technology should help police to address its crime related work and help solve citizens problems.”
On social media and how it can be harnessed for police, the Mumbai Police Commissioner said he is not a great votary for regulation of social media but the basic code of conduct needs to be adopted and inbuilt by social media platforms. “The code of conduct has to be country-specific.”
“In the recent situation, it has become a major menace. Even for very small incidents we are being made to come on road to handle the outburst of people who are reacting. On a basic minimum level, we need to have a code of conduct which is mutually agreed upon between the platforms and government agencies where enforcement agencies should play a very major role otherwise when a flare up happens we write to these platforms requesting to take off the posts. That is not the right way to function. A systemic response can only happen when we agree to a mutual understanding of a basic minimum code of conduct that every platform needs to comply with” he added.
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