With rising cases of COVID infection among police and prison inmates, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday issued orders and SOPs for containment of Corona virus spread among these two groups.
For police, the MHA has suggested that states must prepare a second line of defence and allow work from home for police wherever possible. It has also asked them to deploy home guards and civil defence people instead of police at places where law and order is not an issue.
In case of prisons, MHA has asked for thorough assessment of COVID risk among inmates through thermal scanning, investigation of health history of newly arrested inmates, limited visit of non-essential staff to prisons and restricting movement of prisoners within the prison premises.
“While it is likely that a majority of police personnel are deployed for attending to COVID-l9 related duties and other policing duties, Head of Police Forces (HoPFs) may consider the option of Work from Home for personnel not deployed on frontline and where feasible, ” the MHA order said.
It said that to ensure sustainable control strategy for COVID19, police forces need to prepare “an effective second line of defence to make up for the police personnel who may be rendered ineffective due to COVID infection during the pandemic”.
“Home Guards, Civil Defence, NCC cadets, Scouts and Guides and Student Police Cadets may be utilised in areas where there are not imminent law and order issues. They can especially be of help in maintaining order at the relief centres and in facilitating the maintenance of supply chain and for coordinating other essential services, ” it added.
It has also asked police to adopt a humane approach in enforcing lockdown specially towards poor people.
” While performing COVID related duties. Police Security personnel should help general public and deal with them with empathy and compassion especially with the weaker sections of the society. They should monitor religious and religious and social congregations during festivals to ensure social distancing. Police should also be watchful of migrant labourers/ slums to contain any unexpected and undesirable mass movement, ” it said.
It has asked police to strictly apply self-quarantine rules to its members when needed. It has also asked states to give police all necessary protective gear including face shields.
In its guidelines issued for prisons, the MHA has acknowledged Corona cases among inmates.
“An instance was brought to the notice of the Ministry in which certain inmates in a prison were tested COVlD-19 positive. In view of this, it is considered expedient to issue these guidelines to reiterate the precautions and measures to be taken,” it said.
It asked prison authorities to arrange for quarantine of such prisoners who are being released but are suspected to have symptoms.
It also said, “People in prisons and other places of detention, living in closed and crowded environment. are likely to be more vulnerable to the coronavirus disease (COVID19). Moreover. experience shows that prisons, jails and similar settings where people gather in close proximity may act as a source of infection, amplification and spread of infectious diseases within and beyond prisons. Prison health IS therefore widely considered as public health. Any control strategy for COVID-19 in the community which does not encompass the prison context will not be sustainable.”
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