August 05, 2012

Chennai Police issues security alert to women

A two-and-a-half inch steely safety pin is falling into the hands of many women in Valasarawakkam, a densely populated neighbourhood on either side of Arcot Road.
It is packaged well - hooked to a little, folded, printed handout.
This free gift comes from the local police and has been sponsored by the local Nadar Sangam.
'Fix the hook of your gold chain or necklace with your blouse by using safety pins to avoid chain snatching' - says point No.1.
Point No. 2 says - Ladies should avoid talking over the cellphone while walking down the street, especially if they are alone.
Point No.3 says - if you notice that you are being followed alert a neighbour or your family at once.
On the other side of the handout are 6 tips on 'What you should do if you are a victim of chain snatching'.
The safety pin circulation idea was floated after a string of chain snatching cases were reported from the area.
Though the central streets here are busy shopping and business zones, poor lighting in the inner streets makes this a cool place for men on bikes who rip chains off the necks of women.
I tried to find out whose idea it was to circulate thick safety pins. In all probability it came from the local police. Community activists here could not tell me if women have begun to use the pin. But what we do know is that chain- snatching and petty crimes are rarely reported these past weeks.
In the past city police have suggested some cool ideas and the one I recall was to get women to carry a nasty spray or a bottle of chilli powder to immobilize thieves or eve-teasers.
But nothing can beat the police beat patrol system that has been in vogue for over a century in neighbourhoods. A system which requires the policeman/woman to do the rounds of colonies to a systematic plan.
While the police can be encouraged to keep at the their beat what can certainly help in making our colonies crime- free is a positive attitude of people.
Observing movement of strangers, alerting the station to a group hanging around at a street corner and keeping on at night some of the lights in the common areas are kept on at night.
In one city zone, the local police team has divided the area into parts, put a few policemen incharge of each area, printed the cellphone number of each team leader and circulated it among residents. So, if there is a problem, you call the cop on his beat on his cellphone.
If this idea works, it can be replicated elsewhere.
Drop-gates in well-planned colonies has been implemented in some places.
Most ideas will work if the police and the people of a neighbourhood work together.

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