Lack of modern technology limits police capacity to fight crime
KATHMANDU, Feb 21: At least once a year kin of Hemant and Anjali Shrestha, who were murdered at Ranibari, Lazimpat in 2002, make round of Metropolitan Police Range Office, Hanuman Dhoka to find out if the police have found a clue behind the murder.
Unfortunately, the mystery still remains unsolved as police investigations have not led to any breakthrough.
Despite their seemingly persistent efforts, the police have failed to make any headway into the murder of Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam.
The parents of Debbie Maveau, a Belgian woman whose beheaded body was found in Langtang Area of Rasuwa district, returned to their country with their daughter´s body parts for further investigation, but not before expressing their dissatisfaction over the tools and techniques used in police investigations in Nepal.
There are several cases like the ones mentioned above which remain unsolved, which even high-ranking police officials attribute to the lack of sophisticated tools and technology.
Though the advances in technology used in fighting crimes are making it easier for the police world over to track down criminals and troublemakers, that´s not how things are in Nepal.
In this July 2010 photo, Prem Joshi, in charge of the traffic police at Koteshwar, Kathmandu monitors the live video footage of traffic at Koteshwar. The video can also be seen on cctvnepal.com.np after a few weeks. (PHOTO: DIPESH SHRESTHA)
According to a high-level police official, the need for an overhaul in the way criminal cases are investigated in Nepal have been highlighted in Nepal Police Crime Prevention Strategy, which was prepared based on the suggestions of different stakeholders. But repeated to push to get the recommendations outlined in the strategy implemented have failed time and again.
The official stressed that the capacity of Nepal Police to fight crimes needs to be bolstered before criminals gain the upperhand.
Senior Superintendent of Police Rana Bahadur Chand, the chief of Metropolitan Police Range Office, Hanuman Dhoka said that the department has been working hard for the past few years to modernize crime fighting technology to reflect the changing times.
“In several meetings with the government, I have raised the issue of equipping Nepal Police with advanced crime fighting techniques. I am hopeful that the government will respond to our aspiration in a positive way,” Chand said.
While investigating crimes of serious natures like murder we face difficulty in collecting information, protecting the evidences and analyzing the data because of lack of proper tools and technology, he added.
There is a risk of losing valuable evidences as we don´t have proper tools and methods of safekeeping like in other advance countries, he said.
A police officer at Metropolitan Police Crime Division, said, “We don´t have experts sufficiently trained in analyzing the data and information collected from a crime scene, so how can the crime investigations proceed in a proper order?”
The few available experts with Nepal Police never get a chance to undergo trainings either at national or international level, he added.
Nepal Police has drawn the attention of the government frequently to the crippling effect lack of technology has in curbing crimes.
CIB officials busy with investigation. (PHOTO: CIB)
According to Superintendent of Police Ishwar Babu Karki, who is with Crime Investigation Bureau (CIB), the investigative arm of Nepal Police, in lack of proper tools and techniques for investigation the chances of contamination of evidences are high which makes it difficult for us to frame the criminals.”
CIB was established to look into crimes of serious nature but what it do without proper tools and technology, he questioned.
The government thinks police investigative bodies are unproductive and it hesitates to invest on them, which undermines their crime fighting capacity, he said.
Citing several successful investigations, he said, “The achievements we have made so far are due to our physical and manual efforts. If the government is willing to invest on modernizing the police we can certainly perform better.”
Deputy Superintendent of Police Naresh Bahadur Malla of CIB said that the bureau at present is suffering in absence of Cyber Forensic Lab.
As the cyber crimes are increasing rapidly, we are lacking different software, faster internet service, web detecting tools and so on, he said. “CIB is currently using software named I-2 in order to analyze the data which is not that good compared to other advanced software already in use elsewhere. But we can´t afford them because of their high price,” he said.
Forensic evidences are critical for successful investigations which lead to prosecution of criminals. The use of forensic techniques can significantly reduce the pressure on investigating officers and can enhance the success of investigations and prosecutions, DSP Malla said.
The bureau has hoped that it will be able to employ modern forensic techniques in near future, he added.
It will also reduce the dependency of the police on other agencies and the chances of evidences getting lost or destroyed, he said.
According to Police Headquarters, it has asked the government to make available the equipments for reporting and recording crimes for every department that are authorized to files cases. It has also requested for DNA profiling equipment, psychoanalysis equipment like polygraph, lie detector and voice detecting and recording equipment.
DSP Malla said that in cases of cyber and financial crimes, the police need to download heavy files but that the existing internet service providers have not been able to fulfill their requirement. “About five months ago, we faced several challenges while trying to nab Kirtan Pokharel, 40, of Biratnagar, an accused in a cyber crime for his alleged role in using social networking site facebook for collecting money in the name of sex tourism event dubbed as ´Bunga Bunga Event´,” Malla said.
The Nepali police had to take the support of foreign police to arrest Pokharel because they lacked proper tools and technology, he shared.
Conventional tools inadequate to fight organized crime DIG KeshavAdhikari, Spokesperson of Nepal Police
Why is Nepal Police lagging behind in adopting high-tech crime fighting tools?
Nepal Police has a very proud history and it has been recognized as one of the highly professional police organizations at international forums. But at present we are facing difficulties because of the traditional investigative technologies. We have been demanding modern tools and techniques with the government to make it more advanced and highly competent.
What are the latest initiatives taken by the police headquarters toward that direction?
We are working through various channels and in phases to upgrade the traditional investigation procedures to reflect the change in crime-fighting technology and crime trends. Today, there is a realization at all levels that it is impossible to crack down on organized crimes using conventional tools.
What kind of crime fighting tools and technology are required to curb crimes?
Firstly, having our own forensic lab and related experts in the department is a much needed improvement for us.
In their absence, we have to depend on other institutions causing delays that affect critical factors in a criminal investigation. We are also in dire need of polygraph and lie detectors. Our regional offices also need to be improved for better coordination during an investigation.