New Delhi, Dec 13: Three years after it was pulled up over the December 16 gangrape incident, the Delhi Police PCR wing is able to operate at around only two-thirds of its capacity as it is hamstrung by a severe crunch in the number of qualified drivers.
The PCR unit has a sanctioned strength of 1,000 patrol vans but, while 122 are presently categorised as 'condemned', an average of 28 and 35 vehicles, respectively, are further sidelined for major and minor repairs at any given point of time, leaving the force with a balance of 815 vans, said a senior police official.
To operate the 815 vans on a round-the-clock basis over three shifts of eight hours each, the PCR unit needs around 3,260 drivers, including one-fourth reserve strength in view of leaves and emergencies.
But the PCR wing has only around 2,200 constables (drivers), said the official, adding that the crunch has compelled the unit to "borrow" around 500 constable (executives) from the police headquarters.
Also, an operating PCR van needs to bear three personnel -- a driver, a gunman and an in-charge. It means that to operate 815 vans over three shifts would need around 9,780 personnel, including one-fourth reserve.
But the entire PCR unit -- which also includes the control room that needs at least 400 officials (including reserve), and other departments, like maintenance and administration -- is managing with a little over 8,000 officials.
"This shows the severe staff crisis in the entire unit, for which many PCR vans have to manage without a gunperson (sic) at times," said the senior official.
"We have also sent proposals to the Union Home Ministry seeking recruitment of 5,600 personnel in the PCR unit. Also, the change in the eligibility criteria, which now demands that anybody applying for a constable's post in Delhi Police must possess a drivers' license will hopefully solve the present crisis," added the senior official. L
ast week, eight female constables were selected as PCR van drivers -- a first in the history of Delhi Police -- with which the force is soon going to launch 'All Women PCR vans' in certain areas of the city.
The PCR unit has as many as 240 women personnel, including a batch of 160 new inductees, the official added.
As protests erupted over the December 16, 2012, gangrape case, the PCR wing was accused of slow response in the matter, following which the Special Commissioner (Operations) concerned was issued a show-cause notice.