Are IPC offences in Uttar Pradesh for 2015 just about 112.1 per 100,000 persons, less than half of national crime rate of 234.2 per 100,000? Top knowledgeable sources attached with the Union home ministry believe that this should not be the case, blaming it on the way data are collected by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
In fact, those in the know of things in the ministry say, media analysis, declaring which state has come first and which has come second in a particular crime on the basis of NCRB data, or where and which crime has increased or declined compared to the previous year, is all “facile”.
Suggesting that there is nothing wrong with the analysis of the data per se, yet, these sources say, the fact is, not all victims report crimes to the police, and this happens for several reasons.
Some of the crimes, it is suggested, fail to find their way into the records because the crime may be too trivial. Others are not reported because the victim fears reprisal, especially in offences of rape, stalking, harassment or molestation against women.
In fact, the 1981 National Police Commission is quoted to prove how the crime situation is discussed every year by top cops from state governments, leading to a situation where “senior police leaders frequently connive at underreporting of cases”.
Pointing out how underreporting of crimes once done away with has led to a huge spurt in data on crimes, a senior IPS official, Abhay, says, in Delhi, total IPC offences registered by the police was more or less stable from 2001 to 2012 at around 53,000 (lowest 44,404 in 2003, highest 56,065 in 2005).
“Sometime in 2013, leadership of the Delhi police seems to have decided to make registration easier. Total IPC crimes recorded raced from 54,287 in 2012 to 80,184 in 2013 to 155,654 in 2014 and 191,377 in 2015 (an increase of over 250% in three years)”, says the IPS official.
“The trend of crime being stable from 2001 to 2012 and then the sudden big jump from 2012 to 2015 in Delhi is seen in most major crime heads, including offences against women”, he says, adding, “But crimes of murder or attempt to murder have been stable (or growing at a moderate rate).”
Saying that this indicates a mismatch between “reporting and recording in murder and attempt to murder is probably minimal”, the IPS official says, “Recorded robbery was around 550 in 2001-2012 (lowest 441 in 2003, highest 624 in 2001). This saw a dramatic jump from 608 in 2012 to 1,245 in 2013, to 6,464 in 2014 and to 7,407 in 2015 (increase of over 1,350% in three years).”
Pointing towards another discrepancy, the official says, cybercrimes as recorded by the NCRB differ drastically from CERT-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team). Thus, the NCRB recorded 11,592 cybercrime cases in 2015, compared to 9,622 in 2014.
However, he adds, the CERT-In, a government agency “responsible for responding to computer security incidents”, found that there were 26,244 cases of websites defacements alone in 2015, compared to 25,037 in 2014.
Pointing out that “the difference in data between the NCRB and CERT-In by such a margin substantiates the argument that crime recorded is not the same as incidence of crime”, the official insists, there is a need to carry out crime victimisation surveys, as carried out in some western countries.
“A sample of the population is selected by using sophisticated sampling techniques”, he says, adding, “A reputed agency conducts the survey by asking citizens about their experience as crime victims. The survey is done at regular intervals. The crucial value of the survey is its ability to find out about crimes which do not get reported to or recorded by the police.”