Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Making crime less dark


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Victimisation survey - efficient crime data


The absence of exact data on crime could pose serious problems. In India, crime is under-reported and under-registered.

Crime data

    • Popular perception associates many cities and states in India with a crime. Going by official statistics, the country has one of the lowest incidences of crime in the world. 
    • India’s crime rate is 379.3 per 1,00,000 persons
    • Cases of dacoity, attempt to murder, robbery, rape, and riot have gone down by 36.11%, 16.26%, 20.15%, 0.78%, and 54% respectively in 2018 as compared to the year before. 

Problems with crime data

    • The manner in which crime data are collected and compiled. 
      • Crime data in India are collected and published by NCRB
      • The data reported in this publication is based on the crime reported to local police stations
      • Police stations getting information about the crime is one thing and such incidents being recorded as an FIR is another. 
    • Challenges of a complainant – All kinds of pressures and obstacles are put on a complainant, especially when the nature of crime is that of sexual assault, domestic violence or when it involves family members, relatives or powerful people. 
    • There is enormous resistance put up by the police station personnel in registering such crimes or reducing the seriousness of the incident.
    • The NCRB data fall short of expectations in many respects. 
      • It is short on information about crime victims and witnesses
      • The official statistics miss out on several key areas such as the profile of victims, their personal characteristics, victim-offender relationship, FIR registration experiences, experiences of interacting with police, number of days and time taken in getting FIR registered, instances of intimidation, pressure experienced from the accused or associates including police, nature of injury, medical assistance, information about legal aid, compensation.

The potential of a victimisation survey

    • A victimisation survey is often seen as a solution to such shortcomings. 
    • Many countries have conducted victimisation surveys to supplement their official crime data, India has yet to make a start. 
    • Such surveys reveal details that are missed out by the local police
    • They describe how crime has impacted the lives of victims and convey their safety concerns.
    • These surveys gather information through personal or telephonic interviews with a set of people who represent the geographical and social correlates of a city or state over a period of time. 
    • The information may detail the victimisation suffered by a person but not recorded by the police for a variety of reasons. 
    • The other data include risk and vulnerability, perceptions about the local police and the views of people about the criminal justice system.
    • The data generated by such surveys are considered more reliable than the official statistics on crime. 
    • Such surveys are conducted by professionally-competent organisations and the state funds the processes involved in the generation of data.

Case studies across the world

    • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) measures the amount of crime by asking people about their experiences as crime victims.
    • In the US, the National Crime Victimisation Survey (NCVS) presents data that is collected from a nationally-representative sample of about 2,40,000 interviews on criminal victimisation.
    • The European Crime and Safety Survey (EU ICS) is the most comprehensive analysis of crime, security, and safety in the European Union.
    • The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) launched the International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS), which produces more comparable data across nations. 

Indian crime data – road ahead

    • India-specific yardsticks, which the NCRB does not cover, could be evolved. 
    • There could be several challenges to such surveys. People might not reveal more than what they have divulged to the police.
    • There are several methodological innovations to overcome bottlenecks.
    • It should be assigned to an institution that specialises in criminology, victimology and criminal justice administration. 
    • It should involve a nuanced understanding of the facets of crime and victimisation.



The National Crime Records Bureau, abbreviated to NCRB, is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code. NCRB is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

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