13 POCSO centres planned to lessen survivors' stress
Officers said the main aim is to create a stress-free atmosphere where victims reveal maximum details of the crime, which will help to nail the accused in court
The Mumbai Police seems to have decided to take sexual crimes against minors more seriously. In a bid to spare victims of crimes under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act the discomfort of visiting police stations or narrate their ordeal to officers, cops have begun the process to identify 13 centres, one in each of its 13 zones, which will have specialists along with policewomen to handle the survivors.
Officers said the main aim is to create a stress-free atmosphere where victims reveal maximum details of the crime, which will help to nail the accused in court.
As per the plan, the centres will have toys and paintings on walls, and the policewomen and plain-clothed constables posted will get help from experts from NGOs, so that the victims don't feel any stress.
"It's been observed that victims, who are already traumatised by the incident, don't reveal complete details about the crime in a police station, as the atmosphere there adds to their stress," said an officer, adding that in POCSO Act cases, the victim's statement is very crucial, as a thorough and detailed one increases the chances of accused's conviction.
The right environment
The police are in the process of tying up with NGOs. The centres, which would be on government and private land, would be in areas away from police stations and used only by officers of the POSCO cell of each police station.
There are 93 police stations in the 13 zones in the city. There have been various guidelines from courts asking the police to deal with sensitive POSCO Act cases delicately. Officers said this was one of their attempts to try and create an environment sans fear to help the victims, as well as the cases in courts.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti confirmed the news and said they were in the process of finalising the locations for the centres in each zone and would be tying up with NGOs.
In 2015, there were 4,816 cases under the POCSO Act and a conviction rate of 21.49 per cent across the state; in 2016, there were 4,815 cases and a conviction rate of 23.72 per cent, while 2017 saw 4,639 cases (conviction rate not calculated). Officers believe the rate will improve if victims are handled carefully.
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