Bhubaneswar, Dec 30 (PTI) Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday announced creation of a special wing in Odisha police to more effectively deal with the offences against women and children.

Patnaik, who also holds the home department, expressed concern over the low conviction rates in the state, while addressing the valedictory session of 62nd senior police officers conference.

"Low conviction rate continues to be an area of concern.

All possible steps should be taken to enhance conviction rate by factoring in modern technology into the investigation," Patnaik said in the backdrop of large acquittal of accused persons in several cases.

According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report, the conviction rates in Odisha stood at 9.5 per cent in 2015 while it was 10.4 per cent in 2016, 9.3 per cent in 2017, 5.7 percent in 2018 and 21.5 per cent in 2019.

Referring to opposition allegations on rise in crime against women and children, particularly missing of about 5,000 children in a span of two years, Patnaik announced the state would set up a special wing in Odisha police for cases involving women and children.

"Crime against women and children remains our focus area.

I hereby announce creation of special wing in Odisha police to look after offences against women and children," Patnaik said adding that he was optimistic that following this initiative, quality services will be provided to the women and children.

The opposition parties have meanwhile targeted the state government over recent cases of girl children kidnapping in certain parts of the state.

The police could arrest only one person in the kidnapping and murder of a 5-year-old girl in Nayagarh.

Stating that road safety is another area of concern, Patnaik said road accident related fatalities are very high in Odisha.

There is a need to take up preventive and enforcement initiatives as well as public awareness campaign in coordination with other stakeholders like transport, works department and others to bring down such fatalities, he said.

The chief minister said the government is aware of need for strengthening civil police in the state in view of increasing demands of the police services.

"Six new police stations have been sanctioned, which are being made functional from today," he said.

Patnaik said, further 905 additional posts in various ranks have been sanctioned for strengthening police stations by surrendering equal number of posts elsewhere.

He also said that the government is aware of shortage of housing for frontline police personnel. Substantial funds will be allocated to fulfil such housing requirement, he added.

The chief minister said state police will come up with new ideas to improve its image by providing quality services.

Patnaik, however, said that the law and order situation in the state remained better in the year 2020.

He praised the police initiatives in handling the COVID-19 pandemic situation with compassion and empathy.

While on line of duty, many police personnel laid down their lives.

"I pay homage to the departed souls and assure their families all support," he said adding that within record time, special family pension has been sanctioned to 38 next of their kin.

Similarly, 29 next of kin of COVID-19 martyrs have received Rs 50 Lakh ex-gratia compensation and rest should be processed without any delay.

"I also commend the 930 police personnel who have voluntarily donated plasma for treatment of COVID patients for their spirit of service," the chief minister said.

Noting that a progressive and sustainable improvement has been noticed in the Left Wing Extremism situation, Patnaik mourned the death of two personnel laid down their lives this year in the fight against the Maoists.

Families of the martyrs should be taken care of by the state police, he said adding that the LWE problem is dynamic in nature and keeps changing, close monitoring and focused efforts should continue The chief minister praised the work of SP, Malkangiri and Kandhamal in the LWE front and also appreciated the efforts of SP, Keonjhar and Angul for the overall improvement in the industrial atmosphere.

Patnaik also congratulated the state police for organising an effective drive against narcotic drugs throughout the state with the STF taking the lead.

"I am told that in this drive a record quantity of narcotics has been seized. Commendable work has been done by DIG, STF and SP, Koraput," he said.

However, special drive against organised crime and extortion should be carried out with more focused efforts, he suggested.