The Delhi police has a total of 6,500 women personnel in a force of 83,000. Out of this 6,500, 4,500, that is 70% of women are on desk jobs, which explains the near-zero visibility of policewomen on the city’s streets.

Officials say that even the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women was surprised when Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar told them how few women were there in the force and the huge number of personnel deployed on VIP duties.

At any given time, close to 60% of the total force is permanently dedicated to VIP duties and “bandobast duties” in the capital. “So only 40% of the force is there to curb crime and catch criminals. The rest 60% has nothing to do with the law and order situation in the city,” a police officer said. The security of Delhi’s 11 districts is in the hands of fewer than 35,000 police officers. This number includes the staff attached to the police control room vans. However, because of organisational needs such as change of shift, at any given point of time, only 20,000 men are on the ground. “From this 20,000, take out the number of staff who are on leave, are undertaking training, or have gone out of the state because of various official reasons. This leaves us with roughly 15,000 policemen to deal with a population of 1.70 crore,” the officer said.

He added that if the complete force is utilized for law and order then the police to citizen ratio in Delhi would reach close to 200 policemen per 1 lakh people. As per United Nations norms, the recommended police to citizen ratio should be 222 for every 100,000 people.

Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs say that the government had started working on increasing the number of women in the Delhi police even before the gang rape took place. “Now this has been put on a fast track. Our plan is to people Delhi police with at least 30% women personnel,” an MHA officer said.

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