CHENNAI: In a bid to ensure that police personnel stay safe while on duty, the Director General of Police issued a circular on Thursday to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) for arrests during the pandemic.
The circular has been sent to all commissioners of police in cities and superintendents of police in districts directing them to give suitable instructions to their subordinate officers and police
personnel for complying with the guidelines while making arrests.
The SOPs include:
1. Except in heinous crimes, arrests may be deferred by the police. The decision on arrests should be taken by the SDO.
2. Arrest of persons above 60 years of age and having comorbidities may be avoided to the extent possible.
3. Only minimum required police personnel should be involved in the process of arrest and investigation.
4. Engaging police personnel above 50 years of age for effecting arrest, remand extension or prisoner escort duties may be avoided.
5. A vehicle may be earmarked for each sub-division/range by COP/SP. A dedicated spacious and sufficiently ventilated vehicle like a mini bus may be used for taking the accused.
6. The men and officers in the vehicle should wear full protective gear like masks and gloves and also carry extra masks and gloves for the arrestees. They should also carry sanitizers.
7. The arrest team can effect arrests only in cases pertaining to their sub-division/range.
8. One person from each police station can be nominated with full protective gear to record the arrests.
9. After informing the person of his arrest, the arrestee should be asked to wear a mask and gloves.
10. After apprehension, the accused shall be presumed to be COVID positive unless proved otherwise and sanitization protocol for vehicles and men should be followed.
11. The arrestee may be turned away and immobilised using a rope or handcuff (wherever permitted) from behind to restrict movement. Frisking must be conducted. Cops must prepare an arrest memo and intimate concerns.
12. During agitations, the following guidelines may be followed: Police personnel may be sensitized to maintain physical/social distancing, wear masks and gloves, maintain physical/social distance from the agitators, conduct advance liaison with organizers to follow safety measures, use a public address system for communication with agitators, divert traffic to segregate the general public from coming in contact with agitators, disinfect barricades, ropes etc after the operation.
13. Besides the SOP, the following guidelines /instructions must be followed. Seat the arrestee at one-metre distance from police personnel in the vehicle. Take the accused for a medical examination. Conduct clinical examination and temperature check in addition to routine check. Thermal scanner may be used to check the body temperature of the accused. In case of the accused revealing any symptoms of the disease, a swab test may be taken and the accused shall be quarantined in an isolation ward till the receipt of the result of the test. If an accused is found to have tested COVID positive, then action would be taken as per the prescribed norms. The use of lock up on wheels will be helpful to transport the arrested persons after disinfecting the vehicle and following other safety precautions. Disinfect handcuffs before and after escort if use of handcuffs has been permitted. Proceed to the police station and keep the arrestee in the lock up. Social distance to be ensured in lock up, in case there is more than one arrestee. Complete health screening of the accused may be carried out before putting the accused in lock up. Serving of water, food and tea, etc., should be only in disposable containers and should be disposed of after serving with proper care.