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What’s the NCRB’s ‘Crime in India’ report, and the way to read its findings

By its own admission, the NCRB says there are limitations to information, like dependence on FIRs registered, and also the ‘Principle Offence Rule’.

A new edition of ‘Crime in India’, the annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), was free on August 29, for crime-related statistics in 2021. NCRB reports are a valuable compilation of statistics over the years on offences starting from crimes against girls to economic and money crimes.

Overall, 2021 saw a 7.6 per cent decline in the variety of crimes registered, as compared to 2020. The rate per 100,000 population declined from 487.8 in 2020 to 445.9 in 2021. However, crime statistics don’t perpetually tell the complete story, and fewer crimes reportable in a locality don’t essentially mean it’s safe.

How will the NCRB compile its report and how ought one to read the information on the far side of the numbers?

Who publishes the NCRB report?

The NCRB was established in January 1986 with the aim of building a body to compile and keep records of knowledge on crime. It functions below the Union Home Ministry. excluding commercial enterprise annual reports, its functions embrace “Collection, coordination and exchange of knowledge on inter-state and international criminals to the individual states”.

NCRB in addition to acts as a “national warehouse” for the fingerprint records of Indian and foreign criminals, assists in locating interstate criminals through fingerprint search.

How will the NCRB collect info for its report?

The NCRB report contains information received from the 36 states and Union Territories across the country. Similar information is volumed for 53 metropolitan cities, or those having a population of quite ten 100000 as per the 2011 census, by individual state-level crime records bureaus.

This info is entered by state/UT police at the police station/district level and is then valid at the district level, then the state level, and at last by the NCRB.

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How ought the NCRB report be read?

By its own admission, the NCRB says there are unit limitations to its information. For one, “Since the publication caters to the ‘Principal Offence Rule’ for classification of crimes, the particular count of each crime head could be below reportable and punishable.”

The Principal Offence Rule states that during a case wherever multiple offences area unit registered, solely the “most wicked crime”, carrying the foremost tight penalisation, are thought-about once enumeration. for instance, ‘Murder with Rape’ is accounted as ‘Murder’, resulting in undercounting of the crime of rape.

Also, since the report solely compiles information that the area unit submitted at the native level, inefficiencies or gaps in information at that level have a bearing. Vacancies or a shortage of cops at the native level might hinder the gathering of knowledge.

Also, the information records the incidence of registered crime instead of actual crime. So, once reportable crimes against girls in the urban centre rise considerably within the aftermath of the 2012 bus gangrape case, it’s going to be a mirrored image of augmented awareness concerning the necessity for registering crimes, both among those affected and also the police, instead of an actual increase in the incidence of crime against girls.

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“Increase in crime’ and “increase in registration of crime by police” are clearly 2 different things, a truth which needs higher understanding,” says the NCRB, adding that “higher” numbers for crimes might not perpetually be a bad sign: “Increase in crime numbers during a state police information might indeed be an account of bound citizen-centric policy initiatives, like the launching of an e-FIR facility or girls’ helpdesks, etc.”

Also, since actual numbers are largely higher for the larger states, a “crime rate” is calculated per unit of population. But again, the information used at this time for deciding the total population is recent — from the 2011 Census.

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