BHUBANESWAR: Odisha police has engaged victim support officers (VSO) at police stations in six districts—Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada under the south western range (SWR). The first-of its-kind reform is aimed at improving people-friendly policing in the regions and taking the victims as well as their family members into confidence.
An officer of each police station has been designated as VSO. The VSOs will also be engaged in the offices of the district police office (DPO) and sub-divisional police officers (SDPOs). The objective of creating the VSO system is to make regular contact with victims of all crimes and extend all kinds of support to them.
“There is always a scope to improve people-friendly policing. We hope the VSO initiative would further bridge the gap between the police and victims/their family members. The VSOs would provide requisite information to the victims and their family members about the progress of investigation. The designated officers would also offer emotional and legal support to the victims,” SWR’s deputy inspector general (DIG) Rajesh Pandit told TOI.
Sources said the DIG has written a letter to the superintendents of police (SPs) of the six districts, which are affected by left-wing extremism (LWE), to immediately select the VSOs and start the initiative. The DIG has also briefed the SPs about the roles and duties of the VSOs. The SPs have been asked to sensitise their designated officers about the reform and closely monitor the performance of the VSOs.
A VSO would develop contact with the victims and their family members from the point of crime till the end of the court trial. The VSO would verify the risk assessment to the life and property of the victims or their family members and take appropriate steps. The officers would inquire about the needs of the victims and also ensure their smooth movement to court during court hearings. The VSOs would properly counsel the victims of heinous crimes and facilitate their counselling by other experts or agencies, if needed. The victim support officers have been asked to protect the privacy and comfort of victims of sexual violence, domestic violence and abduction cases.