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People Keep Rating and Reviewing Some Police Stations on Google Maps

Comments say everything from the “staff was kind because they did not harass me” to people complaining about how you can check-in on time but never check-out.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
People keep rating and reviewing police stations on google maps
Photo by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay  

This article originally appeared on VICE India

Remember how at the beginning of this year everyone was low-key obsessed with Uber ratings? From softboys demanding it on dating apps to companies putting it in as a resume requirement, having an Uber rating above 4.5 meant that you were cool enough to get with the trend. And as bizarre as that might have seemed at the time, the new rating trend doing the rounds is even more unbelievable.

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Now, Indians are rating and reviewing a police station in Chennai on Google Maps. They’re scrutinising everything from the condition of the holding cells to the food to the behaviour of the prison staff (extra points for no harassment) written in a manner more typical to a hotel or travel review.

It all started when a guy named S Logeshwaran—who claims he's a local guide—decided to type out a review of the Thirumullaivoyal T10 Police Station in Chennai on Google Maps. He began by explaining that he was thrown into the station’s jail cell after he was caught riding his bike around midnight without the mandated documents. He then goes on to describe the location of the station, stressing that it was on the main road (as they say it’s all about location, location, location). After complimenting the station for its cleanliness, he also said the staff was very kind, simply because they did not harass him. But the best part for him was that he was released without the cops taking any bribe (a rare travel perk indeed), after which he tagged this station a “must-visit” place and even gave it four stars!

His actions have prompted a whole lot of people to do the same. So, this station’s Google Maps page is now filled with people lamenting about how they can check-in but never check-out (learn something, Hotel California), complaining about shitty WiFi connectivity and saying that the station serves great food, but the breakfast buffet shuts by 8.30 AM. Thanks to everyone’s TripAdvisor style reviews, the rating of the police station gradually went from 3.7 to 4.2 stars. However, while there were more than 50 reviews on this police station’s Google page, it appears that most of them have been taken down, presumably by the police worried about the image it would create.

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Even so, while these reviewers may have made it on time for the breakfast buffet, they weren’t the first ones on this meme-worthy reviewing spree. They, especially Logeshwaran, probably drew inspiration from a man named Wijesekara Pathurjan who left a well-rounded review of the Kollupitiya Police Station in the city of Colombo in Sri Lanka just a day before. “Got arrested for not carrying my identity card, treated me very well. Cells are spacious and clean. Food was ok but rice for 3 times is a bit boring. Handcuff was bit corroded but it’s ok it does the job right. The officers are friendly. Overall it was a nice experience,” this review reads. This too was followed by many others jumping at the chance to analyse their alleged experience, with some saying the food was good but the canteen should serve nimbu paani (lemon juice), that the sticks being used to beat people up keep breaking and should be replaced by bamboo ones, and that they charge a 5 percent dining fee for visitors who order outside food.

In fact, this ruse of rating police stations and prisons has been going around on Yelp since 2018, and even has a dedicated sub-forum on Reddit.

Still, the police in India are worried that this trend may be discounting the seriousness of what the station stands for. “I have been asked to investigate the detainment following the reviews. Although it’s positive, such reviews are not a good trend,” Deputy Commissioner Easwaran who falls under the Chennai station’s jurisdiction told The Indian Express.

We’re not sure if it’s the food or just India’s growing attraction towards prison tourism that’s drawing so many people to this rating trend, but it looks like this joke is travelling faster than an escaped convict.

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