By Shivam Dubey and Pooja Agarwal, Christ University
Editor’s Note: By using the data of National Crime Records Bureau , the authors have examined the overall trends and characteristics of crime, crime rates and crime control techniques in each stage of the criminal justice system in India. From the data analyzed, it has been determine that economic, political, and societal factors have played a crucial role in the occurrence of crime and crime control practices. Recent phenomena, like the financial crisis and the current political stalemate in India, seem to have contributed to this disturbing increase in crime. If these factors can be stabilized, then we may anticipate the improvement of the crime situation in India.
Crime exists in India in various forms such as murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, human trafficking, poaching and prostitution etc. These crimes have different statistical trends and it changes with change in time. This paper provides a complete picture of crime and crime control in India over past 40 years. By using the data of National Crime Records Bureau, we have examined overall trends and characteristics of crime, crime rates and crime control techniques in each stage of criminal justice system in India during this period. The gravity of crime in India is also examined from comparative perspective by engaging in a cross national comparison with other countries. The finding of this research indicates that the crime problem in India is more serious than other developed countries. The analysis of recent data, however, show alarming increase in serious crime such as murder, rape etc. This paper further determines the factors responsible for increase in crime rate and reached on the conclusion that political, economic and socio-cultural factors have played and will continue to play a vital role in crime and crime control practices in India.
Crime is no longer viewed as only one problem to a given society. Rather it is an integral part of understanding a nation’s socio, cultural, political, and economic situation. India is no exception. Crime exists in India in various forms such as murder, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, human trafficking, poaching and prostitution etc.
It is very difficult to give a correct and precise definition of crime.[i] Glanville Williams, admitting the impossibility of having a workable content based definition of crime, points out that the definition of crime is one of the thorny intellectual problems of law.[ii] Russell also admitted that ‘to define crime is a task which so far has not been satisfactorily accomplished by any writer.[iii] JW Cecil Turner, who edited Kenny’s Outline of Criminal Law, in a similar one, also conceded that ‘the definition of crime has always been regarded as a matter of great difficulty’ and ‘ the truth appears to be that no satisfactory definition has yet been achieved, and that it is, indeed, not possible to discover a legal definition of crime’.[iv]
Sometimes various social problems stem from ‘uncoordinated and unsystematic’ social changes, particularly among those who are unable to adapt to ever-changing new environments.[v] Rapid social change always tends to produce social disorganization, which includes crime. Although every society experiences various degrees of social change and consequent increases in crime and crime rates, rates of change differ from one society to another.[vi] If this is indeed the case, then it is possible to understand a society by examining changes in crime and crime rates where they are used as an index for measuring societal changes and their characteristics.
Accordingly, this paper will attempt an overview of the trends and characteristics of crime and crime control in India and in doing so will provide a general understanding of crime in Indian society. To begin with, we will present an overall picture of crime in India by examining the trends and patterns of crime over the past four decades. We will then explore crime problems in India from a comparative perspective by conducting cross-national comparisons of crime problems in other countries. By examining the crime data, we can get a better picture of how safe it is to live in India. This will be followed by an overview of crime control practices of the criminal justice system in India. This article will conclude with a discussion of the case of India as it experiences rapid change. We will also look at how these changes influence crime and crime control practices.
Data and Methods
The data on crime, arrests, and prosecutions, upon which we rely, come in large part from the Analytical Report on Crime, published by National Crime Records Bureau. The Analytical Report on Crime is the most comprehensive compilation of statistical data on crime, police activity, and the Crime Rates in India. Although official crime statistics are not entirely accurate, they are the most reliable sources available and do provide an indication of crime trends.
According to the Criminal Code, offenses are classified into seven sub-categories: violent crimes, property crimes, forgeries, and crimes by government officials, crimes against public morals, crimes of negligence, and others.[vii] Of these, violent and property crimes consist of approximately four-fifths of all Criminal Code Offenses.[viii] The violent crime category is composed of criminal homicide, robbery, arson, rape, assault, aggravated assault, intimidation, kidnapping, and illegal confinement.[ix] Property crimes consist of larceny theft, stolen property, fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust, and destruction of property.[x] Official Criminal data of National Crime Records Bureau are used to determine the statistics of crime in India.
Trends in Crimes
This section presents an overall picture of crime trends in India. Indian society has experienced rapid industrialization and urbanization as well as a notable increase in population over the past 40 years.[xi] As a consequence, both the total number of crimes and the crime rate have increased.
Crime over Time
A report published by the National Crime Records Bureau compared the crime rates of 1953 and 2006. The report noted that burglary declined over a period of 53 years by 79.84% (from 147,379, a rate of 39.3/100,000 in 1953 to 91,666, a rate of 7.9/100,000 in 2006), murder has increased by 7.39% (from 9,803, a rate of 2.61 in 1953 to 32,481, a rate of 2.81/100,000 in 2006).[xii] Kidnapping has increased by 47.80% (from 5,261, a rate of 1.40/100,000 in 1953 to 23,991, a rate of 2.07/100,000 in 2006), robbery has declined by 28.85% (from 8,407, rate of 2.24/100,000 in 1953 to 18,456, rate of 18,456 in 2006) and riots have declined by 10.58% (from 20,529, a rate of 5.47/100,000 in 1953 to 56,641, a rate of 4.90/100,000 in 2006).[xiii]
In 2006, 5,102,460 cognizable crimes were committed including 1,878,293 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 3,224,167 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes, with an increase of 1.5% over 2005 (50,26,337). IPC crime rate in 2006 was 167.7 compared to 165.3 in 2005 showing an increase of 1.5% in 2006 over 2005.[xiv] SLL crime rate in 2006 was 287.9 compared to 290.5 in 2005 showing a decline of 0.9% in 2006 over 2005.[xv]
Crime by Location
Location has a significant impact on crime in India. In 2006, the highest crime rate was reported in Puducherry (447.7%) for crimes under Indian Penal Code which is 2.7 times the national crime rate of 167.7%.[xvi] Kerala reported the highest crime rate at 312.5% among states. Kolkata (71.0%) and Madurai (206.2%) were the only two mega cities which reported less crime rate than their domain states West Bengal (79.0%) and Tamil Nadu (227.6%). Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have accounted for 16.2%, 9.5% and 8.1% crime rate (769.1%) among the mega cities in India followed by Bhopal (719.5%) and Jaipur (597.1%).
Jammu and Kashmir (33.7%), Manipur (33.0%), Assam (30.4%) and Daman and Diu and Puducherry (29.4%) reported higher violent crime rate compared to 18.4% at national level. Uttar Pradesh reported the highest incidence of violent crimes accounting for 12.1% of total violent crimes in India (24,851 out of 2, 05,656) followed by Bihar with 11.8% (24,271 out of 2,05,6556). Among 35 mega cities, Delhi reported 31.2% (533 out of 1,706) of total rape cases. Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of rape cases (2,900) accounting for 15.0% of total such cases reported in the country. Uttar Pradesh reported 10% (5,480 out of 32,481) of total murder cases in the country and 18.4% (4,997 out of 27,230) total attempts to murder cases.
|YEAR||TOTAL COG. CRIMES UNDER IPC, PER 100,000||MURDER PER 100,000||KIDNAPPING PER 100,000||ROBERRY PER 100,000||BURGLARY PER 100,000|
|% CHANGE IN 2006 OVER1953||
Analysis of Crime Rate Over Past 4 Decades
Horrifyingly, there are various types of crimes that are prevalent in all the societies. Those crimes can be against human body or property.[xvii] The National Crime Records Bureau has over the past 35 years (1973-2007) recorded 8 crimes that are most prevalent in India. They have made a survey of the total happening of each crime over 35 years. They are:
Crime against Human Body
By looking at the statistics, it is crystal clear that murder rates have doubled from 1973 (17072) to 2007(32318).[xviii] This shows the amount of violence that has crept into our society. It can be concluded that the penal law in India has not done much to prevent the society from such atrocities where a man takes away the life of another man. The 1973 statistics was stable in the beginning few years with thousand murders increasing or decreasing subsequently. A steep rise in the murder rates where witnessed from 1979. The rates never saw a downfall from then and the murder rates continued to rise in the subsequent years. The maximum that it reached was in the year 1992(40105). The statistics gives us the clear picture of the society that we live in. Though the statistics have seen a downfall onwards 1998 but the fall is not significant and proportionate to the legal awareness and stringent legal mechanisms that has been adopted to avoid us horrifying human act.[xix]
Rape statistics have surpassed all the boundaries in India. 2919 rapes were recorded in the year 1973, in the year 2007 the recorded number is 20737. The record shows that the rape rates have increased 6 times. The statistics have recorded every year a higher number than the previous year. This clear shows that rape laws have increased despite of all the laws.
Kidnapping too like rape and murder has shown an upward trend. 1973 recorded total of 10223 and 2007 recorded a total of 27561. The rates of kidnapping have doubled in 35 years. This again shows the failure of law as a mechanism to civilize people.
Therefore, the statistics proves that crime against human body has increased significantly in the last 35 years.
Crime against Property
A noticeable pattern could be witnessed in crime against property. The crime related to property has decreased from 1973. The rates have seen a downfall. Dacoit was 10627 in the year 1973 and 4579 in the year 2007. Though there was an initial rise but after few years, the rate of dacoit started to fall. This shows an improvement in reducing crime in the society.[xx]
18857 was the number of robbery that took place in 1973. It has increased from 1973 till 1992. There was a downfall since 1992 to 2007. Though there is not a big reduction in the number of
Robbery, but it provides relief and gives a surety to that the rate will fall with the years to come.
Burglary in the year 1973 was recorded to be 181433. This too has seen a downfall. 91218 is the recorded burglary in the year 2007. This shows that burglary has reduced by 2 times. This shows the reduction of such crimes in the Indian society.
Theft has been recorded as 285043 in the year 2007. The scenario in 1973 was 379412. Theft too has been reduced in the past 35 years.[xxi] Reasonable reduction has been witnessed in the crime trend against property in India.
Riots were 73388 in the year in 1973. It has become 59915 in the year 2007. Again, there has been a significant reduction in the number of riots that have taken place in India. It shows a positive change in the society.[xxii]
Therefore, the number of crimes against property as analyzed above shows that the crime against property has reduced subsequently. This is a positive step that we can move ahead with.
Incidents Of Cognizable Crimes (IPC) Under Different Crime Heads (1973-2007)
Crime Rate In USA
In the long term, violent crime in the United States has been in decline since colonial times. However, during the early 20th century, crime rates in the United States were higher compared to parts of Western Europe. For example, 198 homicides were recorded in the American city of Chicago in 1916, a city of slightly over 2 million at the time.[xxiii] This level of crime was not exceptional when compared to other American cities such as New York, but was much higher relative to European cities, such as London, which then had three times the population but recorded only 45 homicides in the same year.
After World War II, crime rates increased in the United States, peaking from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Violent crime nearly quadrupled between 1960 and its peak in 1991. Property crime more than doubled over the same period. Since the 1990s, however, crime in the United States has declined steeply.[xxiv]
In line with the crime rates of the U.S., it is interesting to note that crimes of violence, such as criminal homicide, forcible rape, and burglary as well as crimes against property have all decreased since the early 1990s (FBI, 1999).[xxv] These decreases can be attributed to a number of factors.[xxvi] They include the economic boom which occasioned the fall in unemployment; the demographic shift of baby boomers from the crime prone age to middle-age; the success of community-policing strategies; and various crime prevention programs.[xxvii]
Figure 2 Figure 3
Comparison Between India And US On The Basis Of Crime Rates
Both India and USA are known to be high on the crime rate and here’s a look at a quantitative comparison between the crimes committed in these two countries. As far as embezzlements are concerned, India reported 15454 cases while US recorded 17300 cases.[xxviii]
US ranks 2nd as far as the number of fraud cases are concerned while India occupies the 12th place with a total of 41403 cases. Coming to the number of murder cases, US leads India and comes on the 88th position as per the records of the year 2004.[xxix] India occupied the 110th position in the number of murder cases.[xxx]
In India, as per the records of the year 1995, there were 130 police men for 100000 people while US had 256 police men for 100000 people. This means that US had 140% more policemen than India.[xxxi]
When it comes to the number of prisoners, US has ranked 1st and India has ranked 4th on the same. Infact, when it comes to the female prisoners, India has ranked 92nd while US has ranked 9th in the world. India has 49 times less prison staff than US. India has ranked 48th in the world, while US has ranked 3rd in terms of the number of prison staff in the year 1995.[xxxii]
Even though India witnesses a lot of rape cases, it ranks 68th in the world while US ranks 5th with 17 times more rape cases than India.[xxxiii]
Factors Responsible For Increase in Crime Rates
In the late 1950s, India took steps toward participatory democracy even though a lot of unstable political and social conditions continued to exist. It is interesting to note that increases in crime rates, show different patterns over the past four decades: a notable increase in the crime against human body; a decrease in crime against property. Along with the notable increase and decrease in crime, we need to understand it in a social context. Indian society experienced rapid structural changes brought on by industrialization and modernization after Independence.[xxxiv] Major institutions like the family, schools, government, churches, and others were undergoing rapid transformation. An increasing number of Indians moved to urban areas, the society became increasingly heterogeneous.[xxxv]
Social changes always tend to produce social disorganization, some of which is crime.[xxxvi] In India, the rapid growth in the urban population; the increase in the stress and strains of urban life; the higher standard of living; and, the changes in the existing value systems and political system, were some of the factors contributing to the increase in the crime rate.[xxxvii]
While property crimes normally show a rapid rise with increased industrialization in India, economic growth and an increase in employment opportunities, brought on by industrialization and modernization in the cities, seemed to contribute to a moderate increase in property crimes during that time.[xxxviii] As shown in table 1, property crime rates, by crime type was more in 1970s than it sharply decrease during the 2000s.[xxxix] Murder and Rape (Crime against Human Body), in particular have increased steadily in the present era, and the incidence of Robbery, Burglary, and Riots decline sharply after 2000.[xl] As Indian society increasingly put greater emphasis on material success as a means of determining personal worth, there was a correspondingly higher rate of property crime. As India enjoyed enormous economic growth, and the overall size of the Indian economy rapidly expanded during the 1990s, the number of available targets for property offenses increased as well.[xli]
One of the main reasons for the sustained trend in the increase in the number of major criminal offenses may be attributed to a continued increase in the number of violations of legislation such as the ‘Indian Penal Code’. The other reason may be due to revisions and improvements of the criminal justice system, laws and regulations. The improved regulations represent an attempt to exert more efficient control over India’s increasingly complex society. This social phenomenon is manifested in the rapid expansion of the scope of activities engaged in by the public, together with the various ways in which these activities are pursued as Indian society progresses.
Trends in crime and the crime rate in India over the past four decades can be summarized as follows. The incidence of crimes fluctuated during that time. One exception to this trend was the crime against human body, which displayed a general pattern of increase. However, it is especially noteworthy that the overall crime rate rose during the 1990s. A cross national comparison with USA reveals that overall rates of crime in India were substantially lower than that in the U.S.
Compared to the U.S., the overall crime rate of Crime against Human body in India has been relatively high over the past three decades. It is also noteworthy that the crime rates of violent crimes, as well as of property crimes, have all decreased in the U.S. since the early 1990s. But, in comparison between India and U.S, India can consider as the safer place as compare to U.S.
According to this study, the overall crime problem in India is not as serious as that in the U.S. However, recent data indicates an alarming increase in the crime rate. From the data analyzed, we can determine that economic, political, and societal factors have played a crucial role in the occurrence of crime and crime control practices in India. Recent phenomena, like the financial crisis and the current political stalemate in India, seem to have contributed to this recent disturbing increase in crime. If these factors can be stabilized, then we may anticipate the improvement of the crime situation in India.
Edited by Kanchi Kaushik
[i] Sir Frederick Pollock And FW Maitland, The History Of English Law Before The Time Of Edward (Cambridge University Press’s 2nd ed. 1911)
[ii] Glanville Williams, The Definition Of Criminal Law 30 (Steven & Sons 2nd ed. 1995)
[iii] JW Cecil Turner, Russle On Crime 18 (Stevens &Sons, London, 12th ed. 2009)
[iv] Kenny’s, Outlines Of Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press, 18th ed.)
[vii] P S A Pillai, Criminal Law 21 (Lexis Nexis Butterworth 11th ed. 2012)
[ix] P S A Pillai, Supra Note 7 at 22
[xi] S N Mishra, Indian Penal Code 233 (Central Law Publication 19th ed. 2013)
[xvii] Kenny’s, Supra Note 4
[xviii] National Crime Record Bureau, Supra Note 12
[xxiv] Steven D. Levitt, Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not, (Winter 2004), http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUnderstandingWhyCrime2004.pdf
[xxviii] India vs US Crime Statistics Infographics, http://graphs.net/india-vs-us-crime-statistics-infographics.html
[xxix] Agence France, US Murder rate higher than nearly all other countries: FBI Data, The Raw Story, September 16, 2013 13:24 EST
[xxx] Supra Note 23
[xxxi] Supra Note 23
[xxxiv] P S A Pillai, Supra Note 7 at 225
[xxxvi] SN Mishra, Supra Note 11 at 17
[xxxviii] P S A Pillai, Supra Note 7 at 225
[xxxix] National Crime Record Bureau, Supra Note 12
[xli] SN Mishra, Supra Note 11 at 245