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NCRB crime report: an accurate picture?

Context:

Uttar Pradesh accounted for 9.5% of total crimes reported in the country, while Delhi reported the highest crime rate (974.9) for the year 2016, according to the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau.

Highlights of the data:

  • There was an increase of 2.6% in crimes in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently.
  • Data published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) declared Delhi as India’s “rape capital” and Kerala as its “crime capital”.
  • International data on crime show that countries with the best systems of law and order also have high crime rates, while countries with dysfunctional governments mostly show low crime rates.
  • violent crime and crime against women
  • The National Crime Reports data for 2016 on two important aspect, violent crime and crime against women, should prompt State governments to make a serious study of the underlying causes.

Rise in Crimes Against Women 

  • Crimes against women saw a jump of 2.9% in 2016 over the previous year, with Uttar Pradesh accounting for 14.5% (49,262) of total cases reported in the country. UP was followed by West Bengal at 9.6% (32,513 cases).

Rise in crime against children

  • The NCRB data also pointed to a rise in crimes against children, with Uttar Pradesh topping this list too, followed by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in 2016 were 36,022, of which UP reported 4,954 cases, followed by Maharashtra (4,815) and Madhya Pradesh (4,717).
  • According to data released by the NCRB, crime against children has seen a rising trend over the past three years.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

  • According to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, averaged over a few recent years, Sweden reported the highest rate (6,456 per 1 lakh people) of seven serious crimes, followed by Denmark (6,041) and the Netherlands (5,523).
  • In contrast, the lowest rates of these crimes were seen in the most lawless countries: Somalia (1.5 per 1 lakh people), Iraq (2) and Libya (2.9).
  • For India, the number was a mere 87.

State wise data:

  • The 2014 NCRB data showed 35,000 cases were disposed of by court; 25000 of those were in Madhya Pradesh alone.
  • Uttar Pradesh reports nearly all of the country’s custodial rapes (189 out of the 197, or 96%, in the NCRB data for 2015).
  • The national tally on crimes against women, which includes rape, abduction, assault and cruelty by husband and relatives, is up by 2.9% over that of 2015.
  • Macro figure conceals regional variations, witnessed in U.P. and Bihar, where 4,889 and 2,581 murder incidents took place during 2016, respectively, while it was 305 in densely populated Kerala.
  • Delhi has topped the charts among 19 metropolitan cities in the country with 38.8 % of the total crime reported under the Indian Penal Code in 2016.
  • In cyber crimes, Mumbai reported the highest number of cases – 980 (23.5 percent) out of 4,172 cases in 19 major cities in 2016.

 

Why crime data do not depict the complete picture?

  • Poor understanding of law among data collectors leads to poor data.
  • Quality data collection is not a priority for governments.
  • Both the NCRB and State Crime Records Bureaus (SCRBs) are understaffed.
  • The SCRBs and District Crime Records Bureaus (DCRBs) are the worst off.
  • The NCRB has published its 2016 data without its chief statistician and his deputy –both officials were transferred out about three months ago.
  • Poor infrastructure in some states is also a severe problem.
  • Refusing to file First Information Reports (FIRs) by police officers.
  • Underequipped: In most states about 20% police posts are vacant
  • The quality of personnel is also an issue.
  • The legislations are not proving to be enough deterrent.
  • Conviction rate is low.
  • Courts overburdened with cases.
  • Police not properly sensitized to the problems of women.
  • Lack of education and job opportunities is one of the major cause of increased crime rate.
  • Lack of security infrastructure such as Vigilance cameras, Alarm bells etc. Criminals may take advantage of that.
  • Cases were not being registered and were not reflecting in data.

Way ahead:

  • Police reforms through large-scale surveys by agencies such as the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) to get the real sense of crime.
  • Developed countries have attempted to bring data from such crime victimization surveys on a par with registered crime data.
  • Problems would be solved by the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS), a project to build a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-governance.
  • Comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-governance.
  • The quality of data is important, as is its placement in the right context.
  • The increase in crimes against women must prompt better policing and all-round reform.
  • Social development  will help in reduction of crimes.
  • A focussed programme to universalise education and skills training would potentially keep juveniles from coming into conflict with the law. Last year’s data indicate that there is a rise in the number of cases involving juveniles.
  • There are also basic issues that need urgent reform, such as modernising the police, recruiting the right candidates and teaching them to uphold human rights.
  • Providing for strict punishment for the perpetrators. If a crime is committed it shouldn’t go unpunished.
  • Modernizing police infrastructure
  • Need to adopt latest IT-enabled services.
  • Police should be made more gender sensitive.
  • Education and skill training should be given to all those uneducated especially the youth.

About NCRB:

  • The NCRB was established in 1986 as the central police organization to collect crime data, on various parameters, from across all the states of the country.
  • It is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mission

  • To Empower Indian Police with Information Technology and criminal Intelligence to enable them to uphold law and protect people.
  • To provide leadership and excellence in crime analysis particularly for serious and organized crime.

Objectives

  • Create and maintain secure sharable National Databaseson crimes and criminals for law enforcement agencies and promote their use for public service delivery.
  • Collect and process crime statistics at the national level and clearing house of information on crime and criminals both at National and International levels.
  • Lead and coordinate development of IT applications and create an enabling IT environment for Police organizations.
  • National repository of fingerprints of all criminals.
  • To evaluate, modernize and promote automation in State Crime Records Bureaux and State Finger Print Bureaux .
  • Training and capacity building in Police Forces in Information Technology and Finger Print Science.

Conclusion:

As a measure of data improvement, it should be mandatory to record not just the principal offence in a case, as the NCRB does, and list all cognisable offences separately.  Rather than view the available data passively, governments would do well to launch serious studies that result in policies and measures for freedom from violence.

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