Thousands of young girls have been enrolled as Special Police Officers (SPOs) by the UP Police under its ‘power angels’ initiative to check crimes against women. They have already succeeded in stopping 1172 child marriages across the state.
When the UP Police launched its ‘power angels’ project in April this year with the aim of signing up two lakh girls as SPOs, no one thought that 83,000 of them would join the effort in just a matter of 4-5 months.
Under this first of its kind initiative in the country, four lakh forms were distributed through educational institutions, police stations and gram pradhans to young women and girls in the entire state.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Women’s Cell) Babita Singh told Times of India, “The need for power angels was felt because girls are usually reluctant to voice their issues and lack awareness regarding relevant laws. Power angels would keep an eye on happenings in and around their localities and educational institutions and inform police about cases of harassment and domestic violence where complainants are reluctant to come forward. Police will take it from there. The angels will make their peers aware of women-related laws and rights. Their anonymity will be maintained. Police, which are struggling with staff crunch, will get information on time to take preventive measures.”
“Roughly 16 lakh girls pass out from high schools every year in UP, and we are aiming at influencing them. Even if we are able to influence two lakh such girls every year for 10 years, we will have 20 lakh girls – in rural and urban areas – who will be the eyes of UP police. Through them, it will be easier to approach the women in villages in curbing unlawful activities,” said Navniet Sikera, Inspector General (IG) of Police (Women’s Cell).
Candidates for SPOs should be studying in class XI or above and will have to be nominated by their schools/colleges with the consent of their parents. Their tenure is about 5 years and all SPOs get ID cards.
“These Special Police Officers will work as honorary or unpaid volunteers and will be awarded a certificate for their services. If the administration finds the work of a volunteer really exceptional, that particular Angel will be given a recommendation letter and, maybe, a prize as well,” Sikera said to New Indian Express.
The first batch of 1000 SPOs received training in April this year.
“The distribution of 83,000 cards is still underway. Despite this, positive results have started showing. According to the statistics in place, 1,1,72 child marriages have been stopped by these power angels since April this year. There is much more we have to achieve through them,” added Sikera to Times of India.