Two years on: Prisons dept fails to complete video monitoring, other projects


–PML-N govt in 2016 provided PPD with required funds worth around Rs1 billion

–Projects include installation of CCTV cameras, prisoners’ video trial, video conference rooms, control rooms in Punjab’s jails

–AIG (Prisons) blames lack of funds for delay in phase two of project

LAHORE: Despite having received funds worth almost Rs1 billion, Punjab Prisons Department (PPD) has failed to complete its pending projects, including that of CCTV cameras installation, prisoners’ video trial, video conference rooms establishment and the construction of control rooms in jails across the province, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in 2016 provided PPD with the required funds for the installation of CCTV cameras in all central and district jails to oversee the movement of high-risk prisoners within the barracks and to curb the supply of drugs, weapons, mobile phones and other contrabands to jails besides also supervising the jail staffers.

“Under the project, PPD was responsible to install 200 CCTV cameras in each central jail of Punjab and accomplish the aforementioned tasks. The company (RNTC) that had been awarded the tender, besides the Building Department, had claimed to complete the project within six months,” sources said.

Three types of cameras were to be installed in the jails; which included PTZ cameras having panning, tilting and zooming capabilities for wide area coverage whereas the second one was the dome security camera that works perfectly even in little or no light, they said and added that the third one was bullet camera that can easily be mounted to ceilings or walls. “Some of the cameras are extremely expensive with the price crossing the Rs500,000 mark.”

Sources said that the cameras were to be installed in the barracks of extremely dangerous prisoners, jails’ kitchens and infirmaries besides in different corridors.

“Moreover, the government had also planned to establish video conference rooms in the jails for the video trials of high-risk prisoners so that instead of taking them to court, a connection between the court and the prison can be established without the need to arrange a secure transportation.”

However, they added, that due to the delays in the projects, the reforms faced an uncertain future.

It is worth mentioning here that currently, there are only 18 cameras each in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Sahiwal’s central jails. The number of security cameras in Multan’s central jail is 25, Gujranwala and Faisalabad 15 each, Mianwali 16, DG Khan 10 and the central jail of Bahawalpur has only 8 CCTV cameras that have been installed to monitor the internal as well as the external security of prisons.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Additional Inspector General (Prisons) Ahmad Naveed Gondal said that the projects were underway at 20 prisons whereas security cameras had been installed in 17.

“It is a time-consuming process and we hope that the remaining work will be completed by June or July next year,” he said, adding that video trial was not an easy task and PDD, as well as other departments, were working on the rules and regulation for its mechanism.

“We are also facing a lack of funds as the first phase of the project has been completed but another 1.3 to Rs1.4 billion rupees are needed for phase two.”