Karnataka State Police will now have specialised ‘scene of crime officers’ (SoC officers), who will be responsible for gathering crucial evidence from crime scenes.
On Tuesday, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa gave the sanction to recruit 206 SoC officers across the state. According to senior police officers, the recruitment process will commence soon.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Additional Director-General of Police (Crime and Technical Services) R Hitendra said, “The SoC officers will specialise in forensic science as well in identification, collection and preservation of evidence at the scene of the crime. They have to identify, record and collect evidence at the crime scene.”
The SoC officers will assist investigation officers by providing crucial evidence material. Hitendra said the early evidence will also help in early arrest of the accused.
According to the Karnataka police, this is the first time in the country that dedicated officials will be deployed for evidence collection, a system that exists in advanced countries. Director-General and Inspector General of Police (DG&IGP) Praveen Sood said, “This SoC official will provide the police force with more trained forensic experts for investigations. In 1961 in London, the first crime scene officer post was created. In India, this is a first.”
Scene of Crime officers will have a rank equivalent to police sub-inspector and will be part of the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories.
These officers will be trained investigators, who will undergo training at National Forensic Sciences University in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, and Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Hyderabad.
“So far, the local police are doing this job. It is only in major cases that forensic experts from the FSL visit the scene of the crime,” said Hitendra. “Initially, SoC officers will be assigned for cases of serious nature. Gradually, more officers will be recruited. Apart from this, they will also be engaged in other police duties, including maintaining law and order,” he explained.
According to the initial plans by the police department, all districts will have one SoC unit with four to five SoC officials. “We are not planning an SoC officer for every police station since not many major crimes are reported from the rural parts of the state,” Hitendra said.
Before this, in 2015, the Karnataka police had planned to create a crime scene management section in the state with 33 district scientific aid units (DSAUs) and some selected police personnel were to be trained in evidence collection, but the plan did not materialise.
The police department is also planning to deploy a dedicated ‘Forensic mobile lab’ for SoC officers, so they can arrive at the crime scene as soon as possible with all the equipment needed. The officers will be provided PPE kits so that the evidence can be safely transported to FSL for further investigation.
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