UCL Grand Challenges


Police Response to Runaway Adolescents on Mumbai's Rail Network

Studying the response of railway police in Mumbai to runaway adolescents and a transition from preserving public order to protecting child rights.

Mumbai train station

23 January 2020


Grant: Grand Challenges Small Grants
Year awarded: 2018-19
Amount awarded: £3,990


With 3,000 missing children found annually on Mumbai's rail network, this project studied the response of railway police in Mumbai to runaway adolescents, and how it was trying to safeguard their rights in the process, through undertaking a range of interviews with key stakeholders from the police, child welfare officials and NGOs working in the field.

A key finding from the project was that there was disagreement among the stakeholders on whether it was always in the best interests of a runaway child to be reunited with their family. It was also found that the police often find it challenging to keep track of the children once they have entered into the state's care - this causes delays in reuniting them with their families. In conjunction with partners, the project explored the possibility of developing an app to support them in this task.

The preliminary results of the study were presented as part of an Experts' Engagement Panel at the prestigious World Conference for Transport Studies Research, alongside the Commissioner of Mumbai Rail Police, Founder of NGO Pratham & Chair of Mumbai’s Child Welfare Committee. The project was also covered in India's largest newspaper, The Times of India.

Other notable outcomes include a strengthening of the project team's relationship with police in Mumbai, which has subsequently led to the project collaborators receiving follow on funding to organise expert engagement workshops, a seminar and develop an app to track missing children. Both researchers have also used material from the project in their teaching, and are collaborating on an interdisciplinary journal article.

Outputs and Impact


Watch Dr Kartikeya Tripathi talk about related work in a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture.

The Police Response to Runaway Adolescents in Mumbai project exhibition panel at the Grand Challenges, Grand Impacts exhibition, 2023