Crime-tracking system to be launched today

Crime-tracking system to be launched today

New Delhi: India’s home ministry will launch on 1 September an ambitious electronic system to track crime and criminals, part of a larger technology-enabled strategy to crack down on criminal and terrorist groups.

The system, dubbed the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), will be launched in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Assam in the so-called pilot phase.

Funded entirely by the federal government and costing around 2,000 crore, CCTNS, whose creation was approved in June 2009 in the heightened security-conscious environment prevailing in the wake of the 2008 terror strikes in Mumbai, will create a nationwide network. Using this, a policeman in Delhi can access criminal records, fingerprints and photographs of a criminal in the possession of any other police department in the country.

The home ministry eventually hopes to connect CCTNS with the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), an intelligence system that will link 21 data sources including immigration records, airlines, mobile, bank and credit card transactions and also the networks of 11 intelligence and investigative agencies. Natgrid’s creation was approved immediately after the 2008 terror attacks.

CCTNS will connect all police stations in a state. It will also connect all state police headquarters to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which is part of the home ministry. It will cover 14,000 police stations and the offices of around 6,000 senior police officers.

“The police personnel have been trained by NCRB and Wipro Ltd, which developed the user interface of CCTNS. PricewaterhouseCoopers will carry out the audit of the pilot phase as NCRB does not have requisite capabilities. We will also carry out safety and quality checks during the same period (starting 1 September)," said a home ministry official involved in the project, who declined to be named.

A second home ministry official said he expects the project to go national by the end of the year. He, too, didn’t want to be identified. Madhup Tewari, additional commissioner of police in Delhi Police, said that once CCTNS is in place, it will help state police forces to increase operational efficiency, improve investigative abilities and eventually, even prevent crimes.

“CCTNS will create platforms at state and central levels for sharing crime and criminal information or databases across the country in real time. The databases will have criminal images and fingerprints with advanced search capabilities. This will help in better tracking of criminals, suspects, accused and repeat offenders," Tewari added.

The impetus to speed up work on CCTNS came after the serial blasts in Mumbai on 13 July that killed around 25 people. Soon after the blasts, union home secretary R.K. Singh chaired a meeting with representatives of all states and reviewed the progress of CCTNS.

The cabinet committee on security, the country’s highest decision-making body for security-related matters, recently cleared first two phases of Natgrid, which is expected to start functioning in the next two years.