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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Murder and robbery in a day leave quiet suburbs shaken ‘Background Check Drives Fizzled Out’

 Two sensational crimes in a day, in the heart of well-to-do residential neighbourhoods at Borivli and Juhu have left Mumbaikars jittery. Residents groups say that the daylight crimes reveal that a much-publicized campaign by police to collect information on domestic helps and security guards in every housing society in the western suburbs has gradually fizzled out. 

    "The campaign was started by the cops with a lot of enthusiasm over a year ago. We tried to help them but residents were increasingly against sharing information with the police. They feared the information would be misused," said Hansel D'Souza, for mer chairperson of the Juhu citizens' welf a re g ro u p. D'Souza added the feeling was fuelled further after security guards and house helps complained of shoddy treatment by cops and of being made to run around for basic items like identity cards. 
    Another police scheme which residents aren't so keen about anymore is having constables visit senior citizens staying alone. "The trust factor is lacking. Some senior citizens complained that they did not want such visits as the fact that they were vulnerable was now officially on police record," said D'Souza. "It's 
necessary for the police to revamp their image. They Benkar also need higher budgetary allocation as they still use antique equipment and vehicles." 
Security experts say electronic surveillance goes a long way in securing societies and is especially handy for investigators. "More and more housing societies are considering having closed-circuit cameras due to a spurt in crime," 
said Kirti Adarkar of the Old Lokhandwala Residents' Association, Andheri West. The Lokhandwala market in Andheri is already dotted with surveillance cameras. Another resident suggested a system which would link CCTVs in housing societies to local police stations and an alarm to warn the cops in the event of any crime. "The one cop-one society scheme has worked for our neighbourhood. Here, a constable is assigned to each society and he visits it regularly to check the goings-on," said Adarkar. 

Citizens should verify the antecedents of their house helps before employing them 
At any instance, house helps should not be appointed based on mere references made by their acquaintances or relatives 
Collect photographs of house helps and details of previous employers, submit them at the police station along with their contact numbers 
Avoid displaying jewellery or discussing money in the presence of house helps. Keep your valuables in the bank while going out of town 
Treat domestic helps with dignity 
Never let your domestic helps know where cash, jewellery, valuables and keys of your house or your car are kept 
If you can afford it, set up a camera to take photos of the domestic helps while they are with your kids 
Avoid entertaining relatives and friends of the help 
Keep your domestic help under close observation for any suspicious activities

As security guards are responsible for protecting property and people, it is very important that their background is screened carefully 
    Although firms providing guards need to clear licensing requirements, they do not always take necessary precautions when hiring personnel. Take it upon yourself (as a housing society) to interview candidates thoroughly because ultimately you will be the one relying on protection 
    Install CCTVs so that every activity in the building, including guards' movements, are recorded 
    Maintain records on the guard's native and current address, photographs, phone numbers and local relatives' details 
Helplines | Police main control room: 100/22621855/22625020


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