When a vehicle dealer from Oshiwara approached the Amboli police station to register a complaint about his missing Bolero, officers turned him away without filing a first information report (FIR). The Bolero was later used to smuggle a large consignment of arms out of Uttar Pradesh. This is not a solitary incident in which a complainant has been cold-shouldered by the police.

But things will change for the better, if the Maharashtra police are to be believed.

The state police are developing a software to be introduced in police stations for accountability and transparency. Though the software features are sketchy, sources said it will be incumbent on the police to mention the nature of a complaint and action taken by them in the system. This is likely to ensure people get satisfactory response to their grievance.

A senior police official in the state DGP office said the need for such a system was felt many times after people complained that they were mistreated at police stations.

The software is likely to be introduced in a few police stations, including Mumbai’s, on a pilot basis, before covering the entire state .

Former director general of police Praveen Dixit said the initiative would increase accountability. “The current set-up in police stations is a people-driven system. While some policemen are friendly with people, others may be not. At the same time, complainants are unsure what action was taken to resolve their grievance,” he said. Once the software is introduced, the full data would be available, including action taken, Dixit said.

He pointed out that there are agents who take money from people to facilitate police action. But the software will eliminate the role of agents and expedite follow-up, he said. Senior officers can also monitor progress, he said.

Another senior official said with the introduction of the software, respective police stations have to act on a complaint within a stipulated time. The system will be linked to the annual confidential report (ACR) of the police personnel (appraisals).

Most cases wherein the victim is turned away from the police station pertain to missing persons, stolen vehicles and even some serious crimes, an official said. Though there is no vested interest in not filing an FIR, the police want to avoid paper work, the official said.