Lax security in Mumbai malls worries cops

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 26 September 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Mumbai police's audits in the recent past have revealed that private security at most malls in the city are ineffectual at detecting weapons even with metal detectors. This discovery, along with the deadly Nairobi attack, has prompted the police to conduct fresh audits of malls.

In the past few months, the police's protection and security branch sent 220 "armed decoys" to various places to appraise their preparedness. Most decoys were sent to malls and multiplexes. In 70% of the cases, officers said, the decoys succeeded in entering the premises with weapons.

One such 'dummy run' was carried out at a popular mall in Andheri (West). A police officer concealed a revolver in his shoes and visited the place in plain clothes and managed to enter.

The doorframe metal detector at the entrance alerted the mall guards "with specific signal" that the officer was carrying a weapon.

"But the private guard did not bother. I was frisked manually, but perfunctorily," said the officer. "I faced no hurdles in entering. We later informed the mall's security team about their lapses."

The police conceded that many Mumbai malls are vulnerable terror targets. "We are checking their vulnerability with a fresh perspective after the Nairobi attack. We are also evaluating our response mechanism," said additional commissioner of police (protection and security) Madhukar Pandey.

Officers complained that despite the police's exhortations many malls refuse to take security more seriously. "Thousands of people visit malls on weekends, so we increase patrolling there on those days. But the malls themselves take security lightly," said an officer. "After the Nairobi attack, I hope their attitude will change."

The police held a meeting on September 12 with the security heads of malls and multiplexes where an open discussion was held, an orientation programme conducted and feedback collected. Most security heads, in response, requested the police to train their staff.

"We have given suggestions related to frisking, CCTV positioning and checking vehicles. We expect them to follow our advice," said deputy commissioner of police (zone-9) Chhering Dorje.

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