LAHORE -  The police department has approved the establishment of Dolphin Force for another five big cities of the Punjab province to counter street criminals amid calls for effective action to control crime rate in the capital city.

The project of smart patrolling police on the pattern of Turkish national police will be launched in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, and Bahawalpur, probably next month. Some 700 physically-strong constables have been chosen from the existing strength of the concerned districts after IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera approved the initiative.

The move comes almost nine months after the Dolphin Squad, a unique patrolling force to exclusively fight street crime, was launched in Lahore with huge fanfare.

Police circles say the project is being extended to other districts after “successful launching” in Lahore, as the stylish patrolling units brought down the crime rate in city to a considerable extent. On the other hand, crime and security experts say the new patrolling units have been struggling to control street crime in the sprawling metropolis where robbers are striking with impunity.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Amin Wains said the Dolphin units “successfully created a sense of security among the citizens” in the provincial metropolis.

“Police presence always creates deterrence. The street crime rate plunged 30 to 50 percent in Lahore after the pilot project was launched,” the officer claimed. “At present, Dolphins are patrolling in 117 beats out of 220 beats. They patrol in two shifts. Their performance is exceptional and they are yielding very good results,” the CCPO added.

The city police chief further said that the new force also introduced a model of “community policing” in Lahore since they are protecting communities. “We are planning more Dolphin squad for Lahore to cover the remaining areas and beats in the second phase,” Amin Wains said.

According to a letter issued from the central police office, the officers of Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, and Multan, and the Bahawalpur district police officer have been asked to step up working to raise the new force as early as possible. “On the pattern of Dolphin Squad, Lahore, the process for establishing of modern police units - Dolphin Squads - in five districts (Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, and Bahawalpur) has been initiated,” the letter says.

“To launch the Dolphin Squad in the above mentioned five districts, (at least) 704 constables are required for postings in the Dolphin Squad from existing strength of concerned districts,” it further reads.

As per the selection criteria, the age of constables should be 18 to 26, education FA/Fsc, height 5.9-foot, and chest 33 to 34.5. Similarly, 154 constables have been selected from Rawalpindi, 220 from Faisalabad, 123 from Gujranwala, 119 from Multan, and 88 from Bahawalpur district.

In March, seven hundred cadets had passed out of the Lahore police training college to join the first-ever Dolphin Squad and they have been fighting street crime in Lahore. Turkish police officers also assisted the Punjab authorities for months in raising the new patrolling units.

A replica of the Turkish national police, the Dolphin Force is equipped with heavy bikes and modern gadgetry. Police officers say they believe the non-stop patrolling by Dolphin units on busy roads and in narrow streets will surely bring down the crime rate in the big cities.

According to official statistics, Lahore witnessed almost 30 per cent decrease in the incidents of street robberies since the new patrolling units are employed to fight street robbers.

For an instance, the city police reported at least 430 street robberies during the last three months (September, October, and November) as compared to 870 such incidents registered with the police during the same period in 2015. The comparative data analysis shows that the street robberies dropped significantly in Lahore’s Model Town, Cantonment, Gulberg, and Defense police areas.

The police department has already finalised the framework to develop the Dolphin Force for the big cities.

Lahore DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf says the crime rate will further descend in the big cities when the Dolphin Force would start patrolling there. “The launch of Dolphin Squad has improved police response time besides reducing the crime rate in Lahore. Dolphins are more public friendly. They are well-trained in hot pursuit,” he told The Nation.

The introduction of Dolphin Squad in big cities will definitely help police fight criminals aggressively, Haider Ashraf observed. They would not only create a soft image of the police but also help create a sense of security among the local population, he added.

Crime and security experts say the Dolphin force, in the past few months, arrested more habitual offenders and drug-peddlers than the fleeing bandits.

“Their focus should be on fleeing bandits. They must be alerted in time (in case of any robbery) so that they can chase and capture the fleeing robbers. That will be really a wonderful job,” a retired provincial police officer commented, preferring his name not to be mentioned.