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Law and Technology Combine to Catch Habitual Criminal

by Aasim Zafar Khan

With at least 30 First Information Reports (FIRs) registered against him, Muhammad Imran is a habitual criminal. Most of the FIRs are for dacoity, and the oldest one dates back to 2005. In 2016 alone, 9 cases have been registered against the man. A quick overview of his file shows that Imran has operated across the length and breadth of Lahore, from Defense A to Johar Town and from Gulshan e Ravi to South Cantt.

Recently, Imran got into a motorcycle accident in the city. Hurt, he desperately needed a place to rest and recuperate, but with all the FIRs lodged against him, Lahore was not a plausible option anymore.

He decided to head west to Faisalabad, where he was not a wanted man. The plan was to rent a place, maybe see a doctor, but generally lay low for a while and tend to the injured knee.

Little did he know, his luck was fast running out, thanks to a legislation known as The Punjab Information of Temporary Residents Act of 2015 and some advanced IT solutions with which the Punjab Police has recently been empowered.

According to the legislation, “the property dealer, landlord and tenant shall, within 15 days from the time of delivery of possession of the rent premises to the tenant, provide information about the tenant in the prescribed manner to the police through the fastest  means of communication.”

Bilal (name changed) was only following the law, when he went to register his tenant, Imran at the local police station. And that’s where he ran into Sub Inspector Yasir Qayyum, incharge of the IT section at the CPO Office in Faisalabad. “We ran Imran’s Computerized National Identity Card Number (CNIC) through the online criminal records database and found multiple cases registered against the person.”

Read more: Lahore Police Launches Rescue 15 Mobile Application

Standard Police procedure got underway from here. The Police Station reached out to the CIA with the information, who raided the address, where they found and arrested Imran.

While this isn’t the first time that an arrest has been made due to information gained from tenant registration, the fact that a cross district arrest has been made due to real time information sharing is a first.

According to Senior Police Official Hussain Habib, the recent technological advancements in policing are a game changer. “Work that used to take days now takes minutes, and this not only makes the Police more efficient, it creates a layer of accountability as well,” he says.

The sharing of criminal records across districts is just one of many IT based initiatives that are being brought into the Police system on the back of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). Other such initiatives include Hotel Eye, Anti Vehicle Lifting System and the 15 Emergency Mobile application.

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