In a striking development in the conservative Pakistan, more and more women are taking part in armed robberies, police say and are looking for software to prepare sketches of women involved in such activities.
Until recently, the need for preparation of female sketches arose only in petty thefts and house robberies wherein mostly housemaids were involved.
But with the growing participation of women in various criminal acts ranging from house robberies to armed burglaries in the city, software required for the preparation of women's sketches is being developed by the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC).
Presently a similar software is being used to make sketches of male suspects. Besides terrorism and high-profile cases, sketches of suspects are prepared in almost every robbery and vehicle snatching case. A complainant in a robbery case is asked by the police for sketch preparation even if the suspect was seen wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.
The CPLC started using software to draw sketches of suspects in 1991-92. Ironically, the software did not carry eastern facial features then. It was the Union Texas employees killing case in 1994-95 when the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assisted the CPLC in updating the software with eastern features.
CPLC chief Sharfuddin Memon, while talking to Dawn, confirmed that a software program for the preparation of women's sketches is being developed to help the police in tracking down female suspects involved in crimes.
Besides, a database of the suspects in custody is being developed by the investigation wing of the police to be compared with the sketch database of the CPLC in an effort to find out the previous involvement of suspects, he said.
Referring to the accuracy of sketches prepared by the CPLC, he said it all depends on the victim and how much he or she has been able to note and recollect the features of the suspect.
"The accuracy of a sketch suffers if the complainant has not come out of trauma after an incident. A good sketch is drawn once the victim relatively comes out of shock and contributes 50 per cent of the input," he said, adding that there are instances where suspects have been apprehended during police patrolling on the basis of the sketches prepared by the CPLC.
Laying emphasis on the role of sketches in solving a case, SSP Investigation East Abdul Khaliq Shaikh said sketches often help identify the gangs involved in heists. Likewise, if the sketch of one of the suspects in a house robbery is accurate, it leads to the identification of other suspects as well.
"Sketch preparation also gives reassurance to the complainant that an effort is being made to catch the criminals," the SSP observed.