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E-police stations may prove a panacea for chronic ills

Updated May 05, 2014

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The E-Government initiative is an integral part of Federal Cabinet’s approved National IT Policy Action Plan.
The E-Government initiative is an integral part of Federal Cabinet’s approved National IT Policy Action Plan.

LAHORE: A police facilitation centre at Lahore and an E-police station at Faisalabad have started offering various services through one-window operation to the residents of two cities, amid concerns that whether the new policing model could be sustained.

The idea was adopted in view of increasing number of complaints against police and for provision of speedy relief to people at police station level.

The project is aimed at computerising and modernising the district police, process automation, expediting connectivity and information flow among the police stations, besides providing various facilities to the public without undue delay and to avoid corrupt practices.

It is learnt that Punjab police authorities have also decided to launch E-police stations or centralised facilitation centres at all regional and city district headquarters after getting approval of the idea.

According to a Faisalabad police official, the E-police stations – to be first of their kind in Punjab- will help change notorious ‘thana culture’ and provide speedy services to citizens.

The E-police station is presently dealing with character certificates for visa and immigration purpose, verification certificates for job, character certificates for house servants, verification of vehicles for sale and purchase purposes, copies and tracking of FIRs, reporting of stolen/untraced vehicles, reporting of vehicles’ accidents (for insurance), reporting of missing documents, legal information, driving licenses and complaints of all nature, besides offering services like video conference with complainants and a help-desk for businessmen and feedback.

According to an official document, the need for the initiative was felt because citizens were facing a lot of trouble in getting even simple document like character certificates under the existing procedure that required procurement and filling of prescribed form, its verification from ‘notables’ and concerned police stations, which was not only time consuming but also involved a lot of hassle.

Now, it says, an applicant has to only visit the E-police station once and after feeding the required information to a computer page, he could expect delivery of the document at the doorstep within due time.

Similarly, the increasing incidence of involvement of housemaids, labourers, drivers, cooks, security guards etc in theft, house robberies and other such crimes could be checked through the police verification before employing a servant.

The initiative, through police verification, will also help curb the sale and purchase of snatched or stolen vehicles which was a source of mental agony for bona fide purchasers. It has also simplified the process of getting a copy of an FIR, saving applicants from the hassle they would have faced under the conventional process.

Under the new system, in case of theft or snatching of a vehicle, a complainant instead of going to the concerned police station, has to drop the required information at the E-police station and he or she gets information about the progress on the case at the doorstep. It has also made reporting of an accident of a vehicle for insurance purpose simple.

To have the duplicate copies of missing documents, one had to visit the area police station, submit application along with an affidavit and then seek police report. This facility has also been provided at E-police station.

A desk has also been established at the E-police station for free legal information or guidance. Such matters are being processed through Legal Branch, City Police Office and the applicant is kept informed about it.

As per existing practice, learning driving licenses are being issued by the City Traffic Police. Now, a desk has been established at the facilitation centre where traffic police staff concerned will issue learner permits to the applicants, besides providing them information about the process of obtaining the National Driving License and International Driving Permit.

Video conference facility via Skype will also make police officers more accessible to the public without wastage of time.

In Faisalabad, a help desk has been established at the Chamber of Commerce & Industry under the initiative for the convenience of business community.

Faisalabad City Police Officer Dr Haider Ashraf says so far some 50 visitors have visited the E-police station since it started functioning on May 1. He says a public awareness campaign will also be launched by setting up camps and distributing broachers about the initiative.

The CPO said E-police stations would also be set up at seven more places in the district, including Jaranwala, Ghulam Muhammadabad, Dajkot, Samundri and Tandlianlwa.

In Lahore, the facilitation centre at Liberty Market parking is extending 12 police station-related services and four driving specific facilities for the last two months or so.

A police official said three counters – one each for senior citizens, women and overseas Pakistanis - were working from 9am to 9pm, while an inspector legal was also deputed for helping the visitors.

He said anyone visiting the centre could fill the required information in a form and by paying only Rs100 as fee could get the needed document at his or her home address within a week.

The official said each counter was linked with the main server installed at the DIG (Operations) office and all cases handled by facilitation centre staff were reported to the SP (Security) for regular monitoring.

He said in order to check visitors whereabouts their NADRA record was also verified on the spot.

Lahore DIG (Operations) Abdul Jabbar said on an average 200 people were visiting the centre and most of them were applying for character certificates for job, visas and driving licenses.

He said six more centres were under consideration, adding Lahore police had framed rules of business for the initiative to sustain it despite any administrative changes in police.

The DIG said a special software was installed at his office computers and trained staff was handling the whole process from the submission of applications to the delivery of the required documents at applicants’ addresses.