The Maharashtra Police on Monday announced the commissioning of cyber laboratories in around 34 Police Commissionerates in the state to deal with the rising menace of cyber crime, besides providing a boost to all technical aspects of crime investigation.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that setting up of 34 cyber laboratories was just the beginning of the government’s efforts to crack down on rising cyber crime in the state. The number of labs will be increased to 51 by December this year, he said. “While we are trying hard to bring all of Mumbai under camera surveillance, having these labs will ensure that we have an upper hand in tackling crimes.”The government, he said, is already in the process of setting up a dedicated cyber police force and is training 1,000 personnel for this. “This is a historical step to make our police force competent and on par with the best in the world,” Mr. Fadnavis added.Police officials said this was only the first phase of the initiative to make the police force better equipped to deal with the forensic aspects of crime investigation and prevention.IGP (Cyber) Brijesh Singh said, “When we were sizing up the project, we checked the needs of Police Commissionerates in the remotest corners of the state. We found that not only cyber crime cases, even general crimes need a lot of electronic evidence. It was also found that in nearly 50 per cent of cases, the investigation hits a roadblock due to factors like poor quality of CCTV footage, [difficulties in] data recovery from storage devices, and analysis of data. In the first phase, the cyber labs have been equipped with tools for technology assisted investigation.”In the next phase, the project will link all labs in the state to the cyber crime lab based in Mantralaya to centralise the process of cyber forensic investigation. This will include all related processes like CDR analysis, image or video enhancement, data recovery, tracking of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, examination of bank transactions and account statements. “Technology assisted evidence will help with speedy investigation of cases and will also help get convictions,” a senior state police officer said.The police will soon be installing tools to search social media for potentially inflammatory content, so that it can be removed before it leads to law and order problems. Also, action can be taken against the culprits speedily. Requests to social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and others portals will be sent through the state cyber lab, which will be the nodal office for such processes. Setting up a state Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) on the lines of the national CERT in Delhi is also on the cards, said officials.