Vikalp: UP Police’s App for women safety

Uttar Pradesh Police Mahila Samman Prakoshth’s VIKALP app for Women Safety

Have had the honour of evolving and expanding the VIKALP digital app for women safety. It allows women unprecedented access to police help.

Vikalp Digital app for women safety

The Issue

Women are often reluctant to go to police stations, or at times do not even have the freedom of doing so, specially in cases where gender-based violence is  perpetrated by family members.

The Solution and the Process

“VIKALP” is an online portal exclusively for women, where women themselves, or anyone on their behalf, can register complaints easily and with utmost safety from anywhere in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

It thus provides an alternative, protected, direct and highly user-friendly interface between the citizens and their local police on issues related to crime against women.

The portal leverages ICT for the digital inclusion of women and has all the ingredients of SMART Policing.

As soon as a complaint is uploaded, an SMS is generated for the supervisory officers of the district police concerned as well as for the Mahila Samman Prakoshth (MSP).

Every complaint gets digitally recorded and the complainant is given a digital acknowledgement in the form of a unique Complaint ID with which she/he can see the progress in the case. The local police has to take action on each and every complaint and upload the Action Taken Report (ATR) on VIKALP within 24 hours. A nodal officer has been appointed in each district who makes sure that the police response is fast and efficient. Further, the MSP also monitors this portal on a day to day basis and keeps directing local police if cases are still pending or not being dealt satisfactorily.

Most importantly, every complainant has the option of rating police action as “SATISFIED” or “DISSATISFIED.” As long as complainants express dissatisfaction with police response, the loop remains open and MSP pursues the matter with the SP and the nodal officer concerned, after legally vetting these cases. Calls are also made to the complainants to ensure customer satisfaction.

The process goes on until the complainant is fully satisfied with the police action thereby giving women the power to hold the Police accountable and get 100% response from them.

                Vikalp Achievements

Key benefits of Vikalp

  • The portal has removed geographical and time barriers for accessing such a vital service as anyone can seek help and redressal of their complaints anytime, anywhere.
  • Easy access through the UP Police website.
  • Total accountability and transparency in police action is ensured through this process.
  • The portal encourages women to speak up in a society where the “culture of silence” and “victim blaming” is rampant, since their identity is not disclosed and they do not need to go to the Police Station. The last feature also acts as a big boon for a physically challenged woman.
  • It has also given tremendous confidence to the women of the State as no case is closed till she expresses satisfaction with the police action taken.
  • Happiness is writ large on the face of the complainant who goes back with a token of empowerment, a unique complaint ID which gives them access and power over the action taken by the local police and a sense of control over her life.
  • It saves time and energy both on the part of the police personnel as well as the complainant and is highly convenient for scheduling their responses.
  • The portal has made police more responsive as it has increased their focus on women-related crimes and helps them to connect better with the women citizens within their jurisdiction, which is a vital ingredient of effective Community Policing.
  • The processes following the registration of the complaint ensures “boots on the ground” and interaction with citizens, which is again a sine qua non of effective community policing.
  • It is eco- friendly as it ensures a paperless transaction
  • Finally, it is totally  in sync with UN  SDG # 5:GenderEquality

VIKALP” is thus geared to guarantee total customer (public) satisfaction and quality policing, and has contributed in bridging the trust-deficit between police and civil society to a praiseworthy extent while ensuring the well-being of the targeted population that we are meant to serve.

Procedural changes

A gazetted officer has been designated as a nodal officer in each of the 75 districts of the State who attends to the complaints urgently, ensuring a police response within 24 hours.

Financial implication

None, as it has been set-up and is functioning with resources already existing

Follow -up Initiatives

In order to provide the facility of  VIKALP as an ICT tool in the hands of all complainants approaching the office of  the MSP as well as a part of the organization’s efforts at promoting digital literacy, an E-cell has been established here, with a dedicated and sensitive staff  which is helping the complainants to upload their complaint on the portal.

MAHILA SAMMAN PRAKOSHTH (2)

Future Roadmap for Vikalp

  • It can be used as a hot spot indicator/platform for identifying places of public nuisance against women by uploading pictures of such areas and a small accompanying text by anyone having access to the net since sexual harassment in public spaces is a shocking and widespread reality for women and girls. The information can be referred to the local police/PCR concerned for further action.
  • The portal can also be utilized as an Anti-human Trafficking Tool by using it to upload information related to trafficking with protected photos, text etc to be accessed and acted upon by the 35 AHTUs of the State as the MSP is also the nodal agency for the anti-human trafficking efforts of the State.
  • Information about VIKALP is also being spread to various collectives through the Women SPOs made under our program of SAATHI: CITIZEN CADETS and through our RU-BA-RU programmes.

Appreciation

The performance of the Vikalp portal has won accolades from all quarters including the Security Watch India’s “Innovative Use of Technology for Women Safety” Award, 2016 and the Manthan Award (South Asia) for Inclusion and Empowerment by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

It has also been endorsed and recommended by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for adoption by the various States and Union Territories as a good practice in Women’s Security.

Director General of Police MSP: Sutapa Sanyal Youtube

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