There is an urgent need for law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to adopt technology in their operations as it can act as a force multiplier. This is especially true in India where the police to population ratio is less than 150 per 100,000, whereas the United Nations recommends 222 police officials per 100,000 residents. But there are ways in which LEAs can use technology to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.
One, digitise citizen-facing services. Most citizens in India dread the idea of having to go to a police station. Technology can help make this interaction more pleasant. By providing digital access to the police, citizens can avail services from the comfort of their home. The Punjab Police has a citizen-facing portal, Saanjh, which provides online services for downloading first information reports and searching for stolen vehicles and lost mobiles, among other services.
In addition to digital portals, social media can be used by LEAs to reach out directly to citizens — providing information on traffic jams, how to protect against cybercrime, dispelling rumours, countering fake news. The social media interaction can be both “push” — alerts are sent to citizens — or “pull” — citizens access the social media page/handle in order to get the desired information.
Two, use it for crime detection. Technology can effectively help get a digital footprint of the criminal. Mobile forensics can be used to retrieve critical information such as contacts, photos, SMS, video, email, web browsing history, location information and social networking messages. Call Detail Records (CDR) contain information about calls made and received, cell tower location, International Mobile Equipment Identity — a unique identifier for each mobile phone, and International Mobile Subscriber Identity — a unique identifier for each SIM.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to match fingerprints, facial images, analyse CCTV footage and recognise vehicle number plates. In order to detect false number plates, AI can also be used to recognise the make and model of the car and match it with the vehicle registered with that number plate. Big Data can be used to integrate data from multiple sources such as social media tools, financial institutions, travel records, hotel stays, CDRs and criminal records. This can help create a 360-degree view of the criminal and draw linkages between criminal associates.