According to legal analysts, one of the biggest hurdles for women who are victims of sexual assault in India, is their fear of facing difficult situations at the police station when they go in to file a complaint. This is true for other crimes as well, where people are afraid about the way they will be treated by the police officers and the kind of people they will meet, or are not aware about the procedure of filing an FIR.
With a view to removing this fear barrier and making people more confident about walking into a police station, an NGO called Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has launched a tool called the Virtual Police Station.
It is an interactive tool that uses 360 degree video technology to give a virtual tour of the inside of an average Indian police station. The aim is to make citizens familiar with the functioning of the station with just a click. It is a first of its kind training tool, with the dual purpose of training police officers and providing information to the public. With just a few mouse clicks, you can enter every room of a police station and learn about important procedures like arrest, complaint registration of sexual assault, FIR registration, storage of case files, and more.
A user can click on various icons – like duty officer, victim, reception, and objects like registers, phones, etc.
This leads to a video or text box explaining the related procedure. For example, right at the entrance, you can click on the icon of the station guard called the ‘sentry.’ Instantly, a short video and text box explaining his work will pop up.
Similarly, click on the SHO icon to hear him speak about his work and learn about his post in general.
The application was launched on November 17, in Delhi.
“VPS is a step towards humanising the functioning of the police as it is important to demystify the police station by exposing citizens to the layers of work – management, administration, investigation, going to court, forensics – that the personnel in the police station perform,” said Maja Daruwala, Director, CHRI.
Watch her explain the project here:
The possible scenarios that can occur inside the station are explained in a very interactive manner. To teach officials how a victim of sexual assault should be treated, one of the scenarios shows a woman who wants to a report a case. She is first dismissed by a constable who tells her that such cases and people keep coming every day, and another officer questions her on why she was out late at night. Finally, a woman police officer assists her in a very understanding and helpful manner, providing all the required information.
This tool not only trains police officers about the right way of treating the public, it also shows the common person the kind of behaviour he/she should expect at a polcie station.
The tool can thus be used by male and female complainants, community workers, law schools, and police officers.