SPs in districts lack power for better investigation

Published October 14, 2021 - Updated October 14, 2021 07:01am

LAHORE: Superintendents of police (SPs), heading investigation wings in districts, seek to redefine powers and jurisdictions of district police officers (DPOs) and the heads of investigation wings to avoid confrontation between the two offices.

They say the investigation SPs in districts (other than Lahore) face legal and administrative hurdles in discharging their core functions due to the dominance of DPOs.

SPs raised the matter of jurisdiction and lack power in response to two letters circulated by the Central Police Office (CPO).

In a letter, the CPO issued guidelines for the investigation wing heads of districts in Punjab. Titled ‘Standardized Job Description of the Superintendent of Police (Investigation)’, the guidelines explain that they shall visit the crime scenes all heinous nature incidents and serve as secretary to the Criminal Justice Coordination Committee meeting on a monthly basis. SPs shall also serve as chairperson of district standing board and member regional and standing review board for change of investigation. They shall also serve as district complaint, district liaison officers with regional monitoring unit established in investigation branch Punjab and head of the district assessment committee.

In another letter issued last month, the CPO sought suggestions from the heads of the district investigation police.

Presently SPs of the investigation wing and DPOs are of equal rank in more than 20 districts of Punjab. Investigation SPs want the powers of transfer, postings, allocation of resources and other powers in their domains.They demanded the CPO entrust them ‘responsibility with authority to get required results instead of showering ‘majestic powers’ on the DPOs.

They said that the differences of jurisdiction between DPOs and the SPs investigation were adversely affecting the performance of the investigation wing in Punjab in providing relief to the people during the course of the investigation of the registered cases.

“The job description of the SP investigation of a district police is inclusive of overall supervisions of investigation along with performance audit and accountability of investigating officers as per policy guidelines enshrined in the CPO letter”, reads a police officer’s response.

However, he said, the SPs have been made responsible for supervising the investigation without giving them due authority.Another officer replied that the SP investigations have no authority to write annual confidential reports and prepare personal evaluation reports regarding the performance of IOs.

The officer suggested that the investigation wing be separated from the operations wing in the districts.

He lamented that the investigation staff has no separate vehicles, making them dependent on the resources of the operations wing.

The investigation wings require vehicles for the timely visit of crime scenes, completion of the formal or informal inspections, surprise visits, field assignments, and other duties.

SPs have not been given the power to make the posting of suitable investigation officers IOs, another officer said.

He also suggested that the CPO allocate a separate budget for the investigation office.

SPs also seek access to call data records to achieve meaningful results. Also, a designated crime scene unit/vehicle should be provided to each circle of a district for forensic analysis of the incident. SPs also face a shortage of investigation boxes and investigation officers at the police station level.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021

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