LAHORE-The Lahore police have so far failed to nail 19,581 proclaimed offenders wanted in different types of heinous crimes.

The latest data reveal most of the suspects declared as proclaimed offenders by locals courts were booked in cases of fraud, cheating, and bogus cheques. At least 372 proclaimed offenders are wanted in murder cases. City police also failed to arrest at least 12 POs involved in multiple murders.

With surging crime rate in Lahore the arrests of a large number of proclaimed offenders have become an uphill task for the city police. The total numbers of POs are piling up every day though police claimed to have launched various crackdown in months.

According to statistics, at least 143 proclaimed offenders are involved in robbery, 76 in dacoity, 33 in kidnapping for ransom, 21 in robbery with murder, and 8 in terrorism cases. The proclaimed offenders are divided into A and B-categories. The data shows that at least 660 proclaimed offenders of A-category and at least 18,921 POs of B-category are at large in Lahore.

When a suspect flees court proceedings he/she is declared as proclaimed offender. The court also directs the police to arrest the accused named in the FIR and produce him before the court. The name and other details of the PO are also published in media after a certain time period.

According to official sources, dozens of special police teams are taking part in the raids to arrest the proclaimed offenders. The police officers are also using digital technology to track down the POs.

A police officer told The Nation that the city police patrolling units including the Dolphins Squads are using android mobile phones to identity the proclaimed offenders during security searches.

“The data of all proclaimed offenders is available online for police. Our officers can verify the record of any person just by entering the national identity card number in their handsets. This technology is helping police in manifold,” the officer explained. He said the Lahore police arrested dozens of POs during routine checking and security searches last month.

The city police widened crackdown on the POs early this month. But, police seem helpless before influential proclaimed offenders.

Some police officers who spoke to this reporter on the condition of anonymity said the local police are harassed and snubbed by influential individuals when they catch a big fish.

“Last week, Badami Bagh police let a powerful man go on a phone call from IG Office, hours after the dramatic arrest. The arrested was wanted to Bahawalpur police on charges of a mega fraud.” an official said on the condition of animosity.  He added:  “Our High-up ordered us to release the PO with due respect.”

Police investigators say they believe the non-arrest of proclaimed offenders is one of the major reasons behind the rising crime rate. The surge in violence is attributed to the rising incidents of crime including murder, armed robberies and abductions.

Lahore DIG (Operations) Muhammad Waqas Nazir last month expressed his displeasure over the performance of station house officers who failed to arrest moist wanted criminals. The DIG while presiding over a meeting stated that failure in meeting the target to arrest proclaimed offenders of “B” category shows complete negligence and inability of SHOs.

“SHOs with poor performance and lethargic attitude do not deserve such postings,” he warned. “Police officers should come out in the field to control crime. They should have control on their temper and they must behave politely with their subordinates and citizens. Otherwise strict disciplinary action would be taken against them.”