Kochi: Even as crime of all sorts spikes across Kerala, the state's police force is facing a severe shortage of officers. Timely and effective investigation is obviously a casualty.
Currently, the Kerala Police has a shortage of 442 regular Sub-Inspectors (SI) and these vacancies exist in 417 police stations. A legal wrangle and turf war in the police force have delayed timely promotion to the SI rank, worsening the shortfall.
The shortage has affected the day-to-day functioning of the force and probe into even murder cases are either pending or dragging for lack of adequate hands. Shockingly, a delay of 10 years has been noted even in murder cases.
The charge-sheets are submitted in a time-bound manner in only half of the cases in which the First Information Reports (FIR) have been filed.
Most of the charge-sheets that have been returned after technical flaws were flagged are not submitted in the court again.
The current strength of SIs in Kerala Police is 2,232. Of this, 1,117 were directly recruited into service after clearing the Public Service Commission (PSC) exam. Those, who got promotion, 1,115.
The shortage has been reported after the Station House Officer responsibility was given to an officer of the Inspector rank. With this organisational change, the regular SIs in the Kerala Police were thus divided into two categories. Those given the task of maintaining law and order were given the aid of those personnel getting promoted as Assistant SIs and who were bestowed the title of Grade SI.
Dispute casts a shadow over recruitment
As a dispute over the seniority of Civil Police Officers (CPO) was taken to court, none of them were promoted during the 2012-2018 time period to become regular SIs.
During this time, candidates from the PSC rank list were directly recruited to fill up the SI posts though doing so violated the norms to draft some CPOs too as SIs. Thus CPOs who made it into the rank list were left in the lurch. This led to unease and schism in the police force and subsequently vested interests resorted not to report the vacancy of SI posts that have to be filled up direct recruitment.
Even as the SI vacancies are yet to be filled up, 162 cops with 10 years of experience and below the age of 35 are awaiting appointment as SIs. If the vacancies are reported on time, 40 of them could be recruited. But the PSC would cancel this shortlist after four months if Kerala Police doesn't take prompt action.