2. Rapid industrialisation of India during preceding years has resulted into enormous increase of wealth and expansion of trade and manufacturing activities, thus opening new vistas for crimes. The phenomenal expansion of banking in rural and remote areas has given rise to offences such as bank-dacoities and robberies, frauds, embezzlement, corruption, etc. The socio-economic offences of black-marketing, hoarding, smuggling, and adulteration, drug-trafficking have recorded a steep rise mainly due to new spurt in commercial activities.
3. The impact of development activities and democratisation has also contributed to crimes by aggravating social tensions. Intensification of trade union activities and development of political institutions has led to struggle for political power and group rivalries. Criminalisation of Indian politics and links between criminals and political personalities or government functionaries quite often results into murder, assault and other related crimes.
Criminal gangs often enjoy patronage of local level politicians who ignore their criminal deeds. Thus, criminalisation of India’s politics is virtually making criminal actions respectable and beyond public indignation.
4. Social legislations such as land reforms, abolition of untouchability, prohibition of bonded labour, removal of casteism, etc., have aggravated tensions. It is significant to note that rivalries between Brahmins and Thakurs have been the major cause of aggravating dacoity menace in the dacoit-infested States particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Strikingly, the Behmai-massacre committed by dacoit turned Member of Parliament. Phoolan Devi, it is alleged, was essentially an outcome of caste-rivalry between two predominant Hindu castes. The dacoits in these areas assume the role of protectors of their caste and thus play the role of a hero in atrocious crimes. The protection extended to these criminals by their caste members makes the problem worse for the criminal justice administrators.
5. Urbanisation has also contributed to unprecedented rise in crime rate in cities and towns of India. Analysing this factor as a cause of increase in crime. Durkheim commented that disharmony, conflict and cultural differentations of urban settings make the life of the people complex and difficult. This destroys earlier congenial social relationship creating a social vacuum which proves to be a fertile ground for criminality.
The existence of slums adjacent to industrial centres is also a spawing ground for crimes. These slums are the centres of extreme deprivation which breed vices and crime as acceptable economic activities for survival.
6. Indiscreet opening of educational institutions in the name of expansion of education has opened new opportunities for crime. Due to deteriorating standard of education, the centres of learning are turning into “meeting points for bored students, uninvolved with their studies and angry about their uncertain future—ready for diversion even of a criminal type”.
This has led to the politics of violence. Murders, assaults and knife-wielding is frequently reported from the educational centres which has added new dimensions to criminality in recent years. The indiscipline and gangsterism of the campuses are part of a wider process of criminalisation of youth leading to widespread rowdyism. The tendency of law-violation is more conspicuous among educated youths than in non-literate groups.
7. Another trend discernible in crime in India is the increasing criminality due to affluence, that is, urge to possess more and more wealth. Commenting on this aspect, Erich Fromm rightly observes that with the urge to possess more and more, the attitude of men has centred on property and profit which necessarily produces the desire for power. Thus, in the present day ultra-modem society, one’s happiness lies in one’s superiority over others, in one’s power, and in the last analysis, in one’s capacity to conquer, rob or kill.
8. There has been a tremendous rise in terrorist’s activities in India during the preceding decade which has escalated violence and incidence of murder, kidnapping and abduction, criminal assaults etc. The alarming rise in the violent-crime statistics in recent past is predominantly due to this reason. The brutal killing of Sardar Beant Singh, the former Chief Minister of Punjab on 31st Aug, 1995 by a suicide-bomber is an example of the dreaded act of terrorists.
The foregoing generalisations in context of crime trend in India amply demonstrate that crime-index and crime-statistics have a practical significance and utility. These indices enable the criminal law administrators to formulate adequate policies to handle criminals and prevent crimes. Crime statistics also guide law-makers and legislators to enact appropriate laws or amend or repeal them to meet the exigencies of time and place. This renders the task of prevention of crime easier.
The general view about crime statistics, like any other statistics, is that they are nothing but a mere formality and has only a theoretical significance. It is too often asserted that the statistics recorded by courts are more reliable than those of police, prison or a correctional institution.
The obvious reason for this view is that courts have no interest, whatsoever; in twisting their crime records whereas for the police or the prison officials they are indices reflecting their efficiency and hence they prefer to present a better picture of their performance through crime statistics. It is, therefore, desired that the attention of these agencies must be drawn to real purpose of statistics and the role they are required to play in prevention of crime and rehabilitation of offenders.
Undoubtedly, the unreliability and uncertainty of criminal statistics for reasons stated earlier has been a cause of great concern for the legislators, social scientists and social reformers. Expressing their anguish and dissatisfaction about the authenticity of the available crime statistics some experts have come out with a suggestion that it is preferable to direct our efforts on apprehending and convicting the offenders rather than wasting time and money on counting crimes and criminals or ‘quibbing over statistics’.
They argue that ‘it is better not to have statistics, than to have a false or concocted one.’ But it is submitted that such an extreme view will do more harm than good as it would destroy the very source of information which forms the basis for formulating policies and revising, reshaping or remodelling of the criminal justice system.
It, therefore, follows that despite the doubts expressed about the authenticity of the crime statistics, the fact remains that they serve as a primary source of information about the types of crimes which are more likely to occur in a particular area or in a particular season. It also enables the Investigating Officer to draw a comparison about the pendency of cases in different States/Union Territories as well as the charge-sheet ratio in the cases.
Such information also acts as a basis for planning, administration, management and policy formulation by police administrators to evolve strategies for detection and prevention of crimes at various level. Crime reporting work needs to be given priority and importance because it is an in-house exercise to put the Police Station/District in preparedness for future. Regular updation and publication of the crime statistics are the two essential requisites which would certainly enhance the utility and validity of the Crime Criminal Statistical System.
The major purpose underlying crime statistics is to explain and predict the phenomenon of criminality and focus attention on causes of different crimes in different locations. The reliability of such statistics, however, depends on the validity of data collected for the purpose.
Analysis of data involves the ordering or breaking down of relevant figures into constituent parts in order to find out the cause for increase or decrease in the rate of various crimes. Thus, statistical methodology serves as a useful technique for formulating strategies to combat crimes and criminality.
It must, however, be pointed out that collection and collation of statistics is really a specialised subject which requires presentation of information in the form of tables, charts, graphs etc. Therefore, this job should be handled only by well trained and qualified professionals who have real aptitude for this work.
Besides crime statistics, the periodical statistics regarding juvenile delinquency, probation, parole, reformatories, etc., have helped immensely in working out effective programmes and strategies for after-care and rehabilitation of offenders.