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Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

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The National Policy for Children, 2013

CHILDLINE India Foundation » DOCUMENTS & REPORTS » Cause Viewpoint » Standard Operating Procedures issued by the NCPCR

For all the Stakeholders in Safeguarding Rights of Children in Contact with Railways

It has been universally recognized that every child is a rights holder and, as a unique and valuable human being, has the rights to be safe and be protected from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation and to be safeguarded from falling into vulnerable situations.

Children living on the railway stations and other transport terminals constitute a highly vulnerable and marginalized section of the society who normally enters the Railway platforms to eke out a living or for the security it offers. A large number of vulnerable children come in contact with the Indian Railways as passengers or as abandoned, trafficked, runway children from their homes. Missing children travelling in trains and homeless children living at the platforms and working in and around the platforms within the Railway Stations are also children who are in need of protection.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

India is reported to have the largest number of street children in the world; nameless, faceless entities whose welfare is as ambiguous as their existence. A large majority reach the streets of cities and towns through the railway network as boarding freely trains is not only a novelty but ensures anonymity and easy and fast transportation from home locations. With India having the second largest rail network in the world millions of homeless children are known to travel daily through these stations.

In view of these realities, to protect the best interest of these children it becomes imperative for the railways and other stakeholders to act together so as to ensure them protection while at railway premises. Thus recognizing the role and responsibilities of the Railways authorities, there is a need to develop a model Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) setting up best standards and practices for Railway authorities and staff to protect child vulnerability.

For the purpose of this Protocol

1. A child means any person below the age of 18 years as per the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000

2. A child in need of care and protection at the station and on a moving train means:

  • Unaccompanied children in need of support
  • Children travelling alone and is in crisis
  • Missing children found at the stations or in the moving train
  • Children being trafficked
  • Children separated from their family either by missing the train or left out by parents
  • Children run away from their homes and families
  • Children living at the station
  • Children working at station or in train
  • Injured, ill children at the station
  • Abused children or vulnerable to abuse
  • Children involved in drug addiction at the station
  • Rag picking children
  • Abandoned including disabled children at the station
  • Child beggars

3. Child Welfare Committee (CWC): Under section 29 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006 it a requirement that;

  • The State Government may constitute for every district, one or more, Child Welfare Committees
  • The Committee shall consist of a Chairperson and four other members as the State Government may think fit to appoint, of whom at least one shall be a woman and another, an expert on matters concerning children.

The Ministry of Railway has also constituted the Child Welfare Committee at all Divisional level of Indian Railways, headed by the Senior Divisional Security Commandants (Sr. DSCs). Hence, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) means a statutory body under the JJ Act, and the CWC constituted by Railway authorities shall be marked as ‘CWC (Rly)’.

4. Children Assistance Centre at the station means a designated place at every railway station specifically allocated for children in need of care and protection at the station. Such space should have adequate arrangement for food, temporary shelter, clothing, toilet and first aid and medicines. A part of a waiting room may be converted into such facility. It has to be owned by RPF and managed by RPF in collaboration/ with support from voluntary organizations and CHILDLINE- 1098.

Railway Authorities to protect children in need of care and protection at different levels include

  • Nodal Officer on behalf of CRB : First contact person on behalf of Central Railway Board (CRB)to ensure child protection systems within railways
  • Nodal Officer- Railway Protection Force (RPF) for constitution of Committees
  • Divisional Railway Manager (DRM)
  • SR. DSC, RPF
  • Sr. Station Manager/ Station Manager/ Station Master/ Station Superintendent
  • RPF inspector (will be the Child Protection Officer)
  • Train Ticket Examiner (TTE)
  • TC (Ticket Collector)
  • RPF escort staff
  • Other stakeholders include:
    1. Passenger/ commuter
    2. Escort/s of passenger
    3. Coolie
    4. Vendor at the station
    5. Taxi, auto rickshaw and cycle rickshaw drivers
    6. All other service providers at the station or on train
    7. Public spirited citizen

It is important that any child travelling alone has to be identified closest to the source station and should be handed over to designated duty holder to ensure child protection at the nearest major station. For a male travelling with five or more children of almost similar age group, he should be investigated. The group along with the accompanying adult has to be investigated at the destination station, as per the ticket.

Indian Railways Child Protection Centre [IRCPC) at Railway Stations for Children in Need of Care and Protection

Indian Railways shall set up an Indian Railways Child Protection Centre (IRCPC) itself or in association with registered child care and protection voluntary organizations at the major Railway Stations across the country to provide temporary shelter to children in need of care and protection who come in contact with the Railways authorities during odd hours between 8 PM to 8 AM and require night shelter facility.

The Indian Railways shall allocate space at major Railways Stations to open such Centre which shall function as a hub for a group of stations in adjoining distance.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Railways Police (GRP), CHILDLINE or any concerned adult shall refer children to such Centre. In case the child is being referred by any concerned adult, his/her identity shall be recorded in the register. No child shall be kept at the Centre for more than 24 hours.

Structure and Infrastructure

The space shall be a dormitory with four beds- two for boys and two for girls separately with partition using fiber or any light material. The Centre shall be located at the ground floor and shall be disable friendly. The Centre shall have adequate lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling arrangements, safe drinking water and clean toilets, in terms of gender, age appropriateness and accessibility and furniture such as chair, table.

Facilities and Standards at the Centre

The Child Protection Centre shall have the minimum facilities with standards as per the provisions in the JJ Act for the drop in Centres and shall fulfill the minimum compliances for children in need of care and protection. It shall provide boarding and lodging which includes clothing, food, safe drinking water and sanitation adequately.

Management and Supervision

The IRCPC shall be managed by Indian Railways wholly or in partnership with registered voluntary organisations running child care institutions, shelter home or children’s homes. It shall remain open 24 hours and two trained team members shall be available at any given point of time in which at least one shall be a female.

The Centre shall be recognized under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 as drop in Centre. It shall function under the JJ system and shall be monitored by the child protection agencies- Child Welfare Committee (CWC), District Child Protection Society (DCPS) and District Inspection Committee as per the mandate in the Act and Rules. They shall monitor to ensure necessary immediate shelter, care and protection and production and timely process.

The Station Master or any person assigned by him shall manage and supervise the Centre. In case the Centre is being run by registered voluntary organisation, the Officer in Charge of such organisation shall be responsible to supervise the Centre.

Child protection Systems at the Centre

The Centre shall have all safety and security arrangements to ensure protective environment for children of all ages and gender. It shall have fire safety, door locking system and personnel to provided security to children. In addition:

Procedure to Receive the Child/Children and Release from the Centre

The staff on duty shall receive the child or children and make an entry in the register. He/she shall also record the time of discharge of children from the Centre and authority or concerned adult/s to whom children have been handed over. It may include Child Welfare Committee, parents, GRP, or RPF.

Record Maintenance

Each Centre shall maintain a register and case diary and each case shall be recorded in the registered.

Child Protection Committee

A Child Protection Committee at every major railway station should be in place. This committee will be responsible and authorized to set and ensure the mechanism for care and protection of children at and around railway stations.

RPF Record Register

If any child in need of Care and Protection is found by any of the RPF staff, the child should be handed over to the GRP after the child’s information is collected by the staff.

Awareness Material and IEC at all the Stations

  • At all the stations, at the entry and exit, materials such as boards, pamphlets must be displayed which can capture people’s attention. These must contain the information related to the Child Protection Issue including whom to contact, emergency contact and how to identify a child in need of care and protection.
  • At the notice board, the numbers of NGOs and Social Workers to be displayed which can be contacted when a child in need of care and protection is found by any person.
  • At the platform and overhead bridge arrows should be marked in order to point towards the Child booth/ Help Desk for children.
  • At all the important trains important information related to children including missing children, trafficked children along with the emergency contact number.
  • The menu pamphlets placed on the tray while serving food in the trains to carry important contact numbers related to child in need of care and protection.
  • Regular announcements to be done at the platform for missing children and Child Protection issues.
  • Display should also include awareness on protecting children from cut down by running trains.

The RFP will immediately hand over the child to GRP concerned for adequate treatment to the child under JJ System. This Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) will be developed to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the authorities of RPF and standards of services to be provided by the Railways for:

  • Safe transition of children found in stations and on trains, to the safety net under Juvenile Justice system through handing the children to the GRP concerned;
  • Setting up and management of Child Help Desks at all Railway with minimum standards of providing immediate help and support to the child till the handing over of child to the GRP;
  • Referral of these children by the Child Protection Officer of RPF at the station to the GRP concerned so that the child can be produced before Child Welfare Committee of the district constituted under Juvenile Justice Act;
  • Provision of railway helpline for vulnerable children in moving trains.
The SOP will have the following Sections:
  • The introduction section of the SOP will state the purpose, objectives of the Protocols acknowledging the facts and figures indicating child protection issues in context of railways network and role and responsibilities of the Indian Railways in ensuring child protection.
  • Children in need of Care and Protection who come in contact of the Railways will be defined as travelling using the railways and children living in the stations with family or without family.
  • Role and responsibilities of the Authorities in the Railways systems will be defined in the Protocol. These include Railway Protection Force, Railways Officials – Station Master, Train Ticket Examiner (TTE), and allied systems – Government Railways Police (GRP), Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU), and CHILDLINE1098.
  • The Protocol will detail the set up and its Standards to facilitate the care and support to the children in vulnerable situations. The Railways will manage a Child Helpdesk at the Stations.