These complexities account for the rising incidence of criminality. It is therefore, apparent that crime, though an evil, is an inevitable phenomenon of a progressive society. There is no reason to be upset with the present increase in crime-rate. Nor should it create a misleading impression that the penal programmes have totally failed or proved ineffective.
It must be stated that criminality in India is far less than in many other countries of the world. The reason being that Indian society still retains the virtues of tolerance, mutual respect and co-existence through its social institutions such as religion, family, parental control, etc.
Before concluding, a word must be said about the general tendency among people to keep away from agencies administering criminal law’ and justice. The root cause of this apathy is to be found in common man’s distrust for law, justice, prosecutors and the members of the bar. Instances are not wanting when people watch a crime being committed in their presence but they never report it to the police because of the fear of the culprit or possible harassment from the police or tiresome trial and court procedure.
A commoner always prefers to avoid police or law courts even at the cost of suffering a slight harm or injury. He refrains from instituting criminal proceedings against the offender to avoid the botheration of contacting police or visiting law-courts. This apathy of people towards law enforcement agencies provides fertile ground for offenders to carry on their criminal activities undeterred which hinders the cause of crime prevention.
It must be accepted that there is a great divergence in practice and precepts so far working of police and law courts is concerned. The problem of the day therefore, is to restore confidence among the public for these agencies of justice through an extensive propaganda and convince people that these institutions are meant to help and not to harass them. Prevention of crime should be treated as everyone’s concern.
Unless this broader outlook is developed among the members of society, elimination of crime seems rather difficult. In general, the state of lawlessness indicates lapses on the part of the State agencies and the abuse of State power by corrupt coteries and their immoral behaviours by way of deviating from professional standard and accepted norms both within the organisation and the society.
This obviously causes the public to harbour a feeling of distrust and contempt for the law enforcement agencies and authorities on whom the responsibility of crime prevention devolves. It is therefore, necessary that the traditional outlook that crime prevention is solely the concern of law enforcement agencies must be changed and it should be treated as a social cause necessitating involvement of every citizen.
It is only then that the measures to prevent crimes and criminals can succeed and public tranquillity maintained in the community. Perhaps, the media can play a very crucial role in restoring people’s faith in the agencies which are associated with the criminal justice administration.
Yet another potential cause which adversely affects the crusade against crime prevention is lack of adequate proportionality between crime and punishment. It has been rightly pointed out by Friedman that “the criminal law continues to have a decisive reflection on social consciousness of society.” Therefore, protection of society and stamping out criminals must be the object of law which should be achieved by imposing appropriate sentence.
In other words, in operating the sentencing system, the proportion between crime and punishment should be the guiding principle and serious crimes must be punished with severity. The Supreme Court has expressed deep concern for the disappearance of the principle of proportionality from criminal law in recent times and warned some very undesirable consequences of such disproportionate punishment.
Imposition of sentence without considering its impact on the social order may be in reality a futile exercise. The social impact of crime where it relates to offences against women, dacoity, kidnapping, misappropriation of public money, treason and other offences involving moral turpitude which have a great impact on social order and public interest per se require exemplary treatment and any liberal attitude or leniency in respect of such offences is bound to be counter-productive in the long run and the common man is likely to lose faith in courts and criminal justice system.