Time to reboot crime profiling in the country

By ZRG | Updated: Jun 25, 2013, 14:02 PM IST

Rashi Aditi Ghosh and Pankaj Sharma/ Zee Research Group

Is India’s annual crime report prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in sync with the current crime profile of the country? With significant changes in crime trends being reported from all over the country, NCRB’s template for showcasing India’s crime profile woefully falls short. Experts seem to be unanimous on the need for reforms in the manner the report is prepared and greater coordination and understanding with states. The silver lining, however, is that the agency is mulling to update its format from the next report.

The NCRB, which under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) annually prepares report on crime data collected from all states and union territories, awfully fails to capture emerging crimes such as crime among live-in relations, dishonour killings, marital rape, cyber bullying, crime among same-sex partners, sodomy of men, age of juvenile for sex crimes, suicide notes of deceased and age of students committing suicide et al.

At a time when India’s crime profile has undergone a sea change, the country’s only centralized report on crime is under scrutiny for ignoring the changes. Interestingly, the report not only fails to take into account emerging crimes, but also comfortably ignores some of the crime heads which state police register.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study reveals that the NCRB is also giving a miss to crime data which is regularly collected by some states. For instance, Andhra Pradesh police compile district-wise data of FIRs registered. However, the NCRB doesn’t put it in its report. Similarly, data for road dacoity cases at the state level compiled by both Bihar and Jharkhand police doesn’t find space in the NCRB report.

More so, data on Naxalism and history-sheeters which Jharkhand and Rajasthan police compile is not mentioned in the NCRB report.

NCRB takes a macro picture of crime and avoids specifics, which is a lacuna on the agency’s part, says Ranjana Kumari, Director at Centre for Social Research (CSR).

“Indian society is going through a major transition but NCRB is still preparing report from a superficial overview. The format needs to be updated as it is too general and doesn’t go into specifics,” she stresses.

While acknowledging the need for factoring in emerging genre of crimes, Prakash Singh, former director general of police, Uttar Pradesh takes a supportive view of the current NCRB format. “To upgrade the NCRB report according to emerging crimes, minor changes can be done. However, the current format of NCRB is good enough to cover all major crime heads in the country,” he explains.

On its own, the NCRB is also considering revising the proforma of data collection. In the latest annual report (Crime in India) of NCRB for 2012, its director-general Shafi Alam in his foreword states, “The future publication of Crime in India will contain more details on crimes against women, children, weaker section of the society and senior citizens, cases under IT Act and other special Acts.”

The data for the NCRB report is collected by the State Crime Records Bureaus (SCRBs) from the District Crime Records Bureaus (DCRBs) and sent to the central agency at the end of the year.

States are working in a uniform way to collect crime data and all blame cannot be laid at NCRB’s doorstep, says Singh, the former DG of police of Uttar Pradesh.

Few states do compile some interesting crime data but since the same data is not being collected all over, NCRB cannot on its own analyse that data.