Your Space: Punekars tell why delay in releasing crime statistics is criminal
The much-delayed National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2017 leaves many unanswered questions and gaps in its attempt to adequately present crimes reported in India. Our readers tell us what needs to be done and where is the loophole when it comes to crime data analysisUpdated: Nov 10, 2019 16:24 IST
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are failing to publish crime data annually. This data is important to inform the city’s residents of how safe their home, area is. Our readers tell us what needs to be done and where is the loop-hole when it comes to crime data analysis….
The ‘Crime in Maharashtra’ reports for the years 2017 and 2018 have not yet seen the light of day. The 2016 data was placed in the public domain at the end of 2017. Crime data is of utmost importance as it is a question that could define policies at the city, state and national level and more importantly, inform of a city’s residents of just of safe their home, street, area and city is.
Publish data every year
As a lawyer I condemn this delay. There is poor connectivity between the lower wrungs of the police force and the headquarters. Union home ministry should force NCRB to publish the data at the earliest. The data needs to be published before the end of every financial year. The poor connectivity between local police and headquarters also has affected the availability of FIRs online.
Democracy demands honest communication and transparency. Considerable delay in providing key information to the public can make a dent in the credibility of the government. People deserve to be informed about crucial data that etches the blueprint of their future. It is even more urgent to place facts and figures, when harsh and unflattering, in the public domain. The annual data relating to various crimes and incidents, released by the NCRB, is of immense importance to the police, government, and civil society, among others, for tracing the crime map of the country, studying its implications, and charting out the future course of action. Hence, we need timely crime data.
Delay does not affect the law and order
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has changed its format and has been revamped. We did print the data of Crime in Maharashtra, 2017, but, we had to call it back as the format has changed. Data processing format keeps getting revised and the process is exhausting. It (Crime in Maharashtra, 2017) will be out in not more than a month or two. The data for 2018 will also be ready in some time. By first week of March 2020, Crime in Maharashtra, 2019 should also be ready. It takes time to collect data. But first we will focus on 2017 data as it is kind of in the arrears. The delay in publication does not affect the law and order situation. This data is for the public. Twice a year, we have a half-yearly conference; certain instructions are passed on after it. It cannot be done more frequently than once every six months. Information is shared during these meetings. So the delay in publication does not affect that.
Atulchandra Kulkarni, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), CID, Maharashtra
Collation of data just an academic exercise
According to me, publishing the annual crime data is an academic exercise. The NCRB and CID just collate the data. Though this helps in resource deployment, the data also has qualitative and quantitative aspects to it. The delay is because the cases do not finish soon. The same person has to keep a track of the paper work and court work and eventually all parties’ loose interest. It is not right to look at the quantity without looking at the process and disposal of the cases. The case files are huge and the hearings are cumbersome. Then there are adjournments, quantum of punishments, release from jail among other things and the entire chain has to be fixed. With complaint registrations now being computerised, and police stations being connected, the annual data should be released soon.
RK Padmanabhan, retired commissioner of Pimpri-Chinchwad police
Government is withholding data
It is a must for government bodies to keep records of various categories of crimes. When we get this data, we can define better policies to fight against that crime. It is the government’s responsibility to remove the evil of crime from the society. By withholding this data, they are furthering the cause of the evil. The chief minister holds the charge of home ministry. This is a serious lapse on government’s side. This is hiding of information. The police cannot hide the data without the CM’s instructions. This is a deliberate attempt to hide the data from the public so that people cannot analyse the governance related to crime management by the government. Better criminal administration is an advanced aspect of crime management and the government is lagging in that. Though some of the details are available on the website and the process is now digital the government does not want to show the data.
Timely crime data is needed
I am an IT professional. When I read about the crime data not being published for three years, I am forced to think about why it has not been done.
It may not affect my life directly, but that does not mean that I can rest easy knowing that the government is not telling me how much crime has taken place in the city, state or the country. If the systems are getting updated, then it is understandable. But how long does it take to update the systems? If the way of filing it has changed, what are the factors involved in it? If it is about digitising the whole process, it maybe difficult, but should it take three years to implement it, is the question. A software company may not take that long but then this is not a company. But the information that should be in public domain should be made available without such delay.
Not publishing data is a crime
Hiding crime and not registering cases is a crime itself. Therefore, whether these statistics are even right or real is the question. When can it be called true, when both the sides - the complainant and the person registering it, both are doing their part. Not publishing data related to is another crime. Even if they are updating the system, the current system should function properly. Just because their systems are changing, does not mean that the people are not liable to know about this data. If your basic data is recorded right, change in the recording system should not cause such a big hassle. Authenticity of the data is more important. In any case, any form of government data is completely fake, and not just data related to crime. Every data produced by the government is fake. The complaints are never resolved, just passed along.
Departments are inefficient
National Crime Records Bureau has failed to publish the Crime in Maharashtra data for the past two years. This clearly indicates that the department is inefficient. For this, one has to look at the root cause. Secondly, good mechanism is needed. The residents in Pune must be aware of the crime rate in their city. Whenever such an issue arises, the government says that their departments are short staffed. Nobody wants to take responsibility. This is a serious issue and must be looked at immediately.
This is a systemic problem
Crime in India has also evolved from rapes and murders to lynching, cow slaughter, and hate crimes. In spite of collecting data for all of these, the NCRB chose not to release it. Most people know how difficult it is to get the police to register a FIR. A direct impact of the police making the process cumbersome is that many people do not report most crimes. Our crime figures are a big lie, which we have been blindly believing year after year. By not releasing data, the government has either decided to go silent on these problematic incidents or has decided to whitewash them; both of which are equally perturbing. Not having access to legitimate government data is becoming a bit of a trend now. First, it was the controversy surrounding the jobs data, which was later proven to be correct with unemployment at an alarming 45-year high. And now, we have the selective reporting of the incidents of crime in India. This is a systemic problem and no individual can be blamed for it. simple method would be to have an agency to register reports of crimes. Such an agency could forward all complaints to the police. Unless this is done, we will not be able to resolve the institutionalised corruption in our police force. Police officials, media and citizens across the nation also need to acknowledge the truth and come together to end burking. There is no other way to achieve this.