LAHORE - Several top judges, headed by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, arrived at the Punjab’s central police office last week. Perhaps, it was the first ever visit of any Chief Justice to the Central Police Office in decades.

Senior Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali, Justice Syed Muhammad Kazim Raza Shamsi, Justice Abdul Sami Khan, Justice Sadaqat Ali and others accompanied the Chief Justice on this occasion. The chief justice visited complaint centre besides reviewing the newly-established monitoring and operation rooms.

Inspector General of Police Punjab Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera briefed the LHC Chief Justice that people from all over the province could lodge their complaint on 8787 through call or SMS. He further informed the delegation that monitoring of front desks set up in all police stations of the province was being carried out from the monitoring rooms. The honourable judges were also informed that the police department successfully compiled the record of 200,000 police employees and officers in the recent years. Also, the physical and biometric record of criminal elements is also available in the monitoring room.

LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah was also briefed about the ‘Hotel Eye System’ under which the police department gets prompt information regarding the stay of criminals and proclaimed offenders in any hotel of the province. The Chief Justice directed the IG Office to nominate a focal person so that Lahore High Court could benefit from such system for speedy justice

The more the judges are grilling the provincial police over faulty investigations and incompetence, the quicker the department is struggling to introduce public-friendly initiatives at the central police office and the police station level.

Punjab’s DIG (Operations) Aamir Zulfikar Khan says the rare visit of the top judges to the CPO will definitely boost the confidence of the country’s largest law enforcement agency. During an exclusive interview with The Nation last week, the officer shared some details of the recently launched initiatives.

According to Aamir Zulfikar Khan, a new initiative of the Punjab Police is the establishment of an integrated police complaint center. “The idea is to use the benefits of information technology in order to reach out to the people and address their issues related to the performance of police. Previously, the complaints were received through post or a person had to travel to Lahore to submit his complaint in person at the office of Inspector General of Police.” Earlier, different sections were handling complaints at the central police office.

Punjab IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera reorganized the distribution of work of the CPO. Presently, an officer of the rank of SSP (AIG) deals with complaints received from all the sources like receipt of complaint through post, in-person, e-mail, SMS, by telephone, and directives from President, Prime Minister, Governor, Chief Minister, Home Department, and Overseas Pakistanis Complaints etc. The new intervention aims at receiving complaints through SMS and voice calls on a short code (8787).

Moreover, complaints are also received online as well as through emails. A dedicated team of young IT professionals has been deputed to handle these complaints. Complaints are being marked to SDPOs/DPOs/RPOs/Additional IGPs on behalf of IGP for action.

A state of the art system has been designed to redress the grievances of the public in an expeditious manner. The system is highly interactive and the complainant is kept in the loop till the disposal of the complaint. The complainant can view the progress of his complaint online and can send his feedback at any moment, online or through SMS.

As per the standard operating procedure of the Police Complaint Center, the applications against non-Registration of FIRs would be forwarded to the concerned SDPOs who would contact the complainant in next eight hours and final reply would be submitted to Complaints handling Center by him within 48 hours after giving complaint a patient hearing in person.

Thus, the complaints regarding faulty investigations would be personally dealt by SDPOs and the requests for change of investigation would be completed in respective boards within 15 days.

The complaints against illegal detentions would be forwarded to concerned RPO, DPO or SP who would send a fact finding report within 24 hours. In case of complaints regarding arrests of innocent persons in false FIRs or registration of such cases, the application would be forwarded to SDPOs who would personally verify and take action accordingly in 72 hours.

The applications regarding corruption or willful delay by police officials in performing their legal duties would be forwarded to concerned CCPO/CPOs/DPOs who would get the matter inquired in a day and send a preliminary report and final report in one week.

In order to ensure better service delivery, all replies received from respective offices would be verified by the staff working at these Complaints Handling Centers by making a telephonic call to the complainants.

In case of any ambiguity or unsatisfactory, replies, the concerned officers would explain the matter to an officer at CPO, designated by the IGP, at a conference call in which the complainant would also participate.

A system of three way conference has also been made a part of the Police Complaints Center in which the complainant, the concerned police officer (RPO/DPO/SDPO) and the IGP (or any of his representatives at Central Police Office) can review the progress of the complaint. This would not only result in timely redressal of the complaints but would also ensure satisfaction of the complainant and rebuild public's confidence and trust over police.

Aamir Zulfikar Khan says that at least 22,907 complaints have been received or registered with the CPO since February last year. Out of total complaints, at least 18068 (78.9%) have been worked out and some 4839 (21.1%) are under process. “Since paperless policing is the vision of the IGP, the department has introduced multiple initiatives in this regard. A lot has been achieved in last one year and we have to do a lot of work to make a difference in the days ahead,” said the Punjab’s DIG operations.