Controlling street crime
biggest challenge in
Karachi, says G.N. Memon

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KARCAHI: The new city police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon has said that controlling street crime is the biggest challenge for the Karachi police at present, and a process to check performance has been started at the police station level in order to meet this challenge.

The relevant station house officer (SHO) would be removed not because of an incident but because of corruption and failure to arrest the culprits, said the additional inspector general of police in his address to all senior and junior officers of the Karachi Range at the Sindh Boys Scouts Auditorium.

Karachi city police chief G.N Memon

According to an official, Memon directed the investigation and operations departments to work together as a team to make a strong case for the arrest of outlaws and their convictions by courts.

The police station unit is the base of the police; so in order to strengthen its base and boost its capacity, serious steps are being taken to meet a shortage of personnel at police stations, said the additional IGP.

He emphasised that cases should be registered immediately on the arrival of a citizen victim of crime, including street crime, at the police station. He warned that strict departmental action would be taken against the police officer violating this order.

He said it had been found during investigations that a large number of drug addicts were involved in street crime, and the ongoing drug prevention campaign would be improved to deal with the issue.

Karachi’s top cop said a transparent policy had been formulated for posting SHOs in the city, which was yielding positive results. The senior command of the Karachi police had been directed to devote one day in a week to listening to the problems of subordinates and resolving them, he added.

Ghulam Nabi Memon said that the main purpose of traffic police is to regulate traffic not generate revenue. Talking to Dawn, he said as part of his long-term strategy to ensure smooth flow of traffic and prevent prolong and agonising traffic jams in the metropolis, he had taken back powers to issue tickets over traffic violations from every traffic policeman and now only Section Officers (SOs) could impose fines.

He was of the view that the indiscriminate exercise by all traffic policemen for checking traffic violations was partly responsible for traffic problems in the metropolis.

Karachi city police chief G.N. Memon briefing journalists at his office.

City police chief Memon, who had earlier served in the same position, said there was a lack of ‘discipline’ as every constable or head constable, whenever he wanted, started checking traffic violations on every road that caused hindrances in the smooth flow of traffic.

In order to bring some discipline in the subject exercise, initially senior officers in traffic had been empowered to impose fines, he said and added that in next phase, some other police officers — probably not below the rank of inspector and sub-inspector — would be notified to impose fines on violations.

The city police chief declared that constables and head constables would not be allowed to issue challans (fines) over violation of traffic laws. When there was ‘free for all’ moment for all traffic policemen to impose fines, it tended to cause blockade of the traffic.

“Regulation of traffic is more important than imposing fines,” he said, adding that the traffic flow would be improved if checking would be carried out in a better way not in an indiscriminate way.

It was wrong if the purpose of traffic police was to impose fines and generate revenue instead of regulating traffic,” he observed.

Role of SHOs in investigation

Regarding unabated street crimes in the provincial capital, the city police chief believed that there was lack of understanding between the operation wing of the police and investigation branch and different units of the police dealing with host of crimes. He suggested that this ‘disconnect’ had partly compounded the problem of street crime in the city.

As part of the new strategy, SHOs had been given responsibility of obtaining CCTV footage, collecting evidence and identifying the suspects/accused in coordination with the investigation branch of the police.

A horrific picture of street crime in Karachi

He regretted that as past practice, the SHOs only got FIRs registered in case of vehicles lifting or cell phone snatching, and investigation was assigned to others.

Delays in FIRs benefit criminals

Another problem that helped criminals was the delay in registration of FIRs as SHOs concerned did not get FIR registered on time in order to hide their performance. “Because of this disconnect, when the criminals got arrested, fake cases were registered against them leading to their acquittal by courts,” he said.

It had been observed that the SHOs tended to delay FIRs for two-three days and such a delay appeared to be one of the major reasons behind acquittal of the criminals as courts gave ‘benefit of doubt’ to them.

He said directions had been issued to the SHOs to get FIRs registered immediately. He said ‘free and immediate registration’ of FIRs might give rise to increase in data of crimes in the city, but hiding of crimes gives benefit to the criminals.

The police chief revealed that Lahore was smaller city as compared to Karachi, but annually 200,000 crimes were reported there. In contrast, there were annually 45,000 crimes in Karachi in year 2020, but it increased up to 84,000 crimes in year 2021 when the police persuaded the victims of crimes to get FIRs registered.

He hoped when FIRs would be registered on time, the major reason behind acquittal of the criminals would also likely to be ended.