NCRB data reveals terrible state of affairs of crimes in India

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Crimes against women, children, senior citizens, SCs, and STs all reported an increase in 2022 as compared to 2021 by 4%, 8.7%, 9.3%, 13.1%, and 14.3%, respectively.

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By Pradeep Kumar Panda

Bhubaneswar, December 20: The long-awaited annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), titled “Crime in India 2022,” has finally been released in December 2023. Published in three volumes, it provides comprehensive statistics on various categories of crime registered in India in 2022. The annual NCRB publications provide useful and actionable data on crimes and preventable deaths.

The first volume of the NCRB report includes data on violent crimes, murder, kidnapping and abduction, crimes against women, crimes against children, and crimes committed by juvenile children. The second volume of the report includes data on crimes against senior citizens, crimes/atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), economic offences, corruption offences, cybercrimes, and offences against the state, crimes committed by extremists/insurgents/terrorists, and offences related to the environment. The third volume covers crimes in railways, crimes against foreigners, crimes committed by foreigners, and data about human trafficking, custodial crimes, injuries and casualties caused by police firing/lathicharge, arrests, convictions, acquittals, stolen and recovered property, etc. All data in the NCRB report is helpfully categorised for 36 states/union territories and 19 metropolitan cities.

In a cautionary note at the very beginning of the annual report, the NCRB states that “crime is [a] manifestation of myriad complex factors.” It also notes that the report merely captures the number of crimes reported to the police in 2022, and thus, it is not wholly representative of the actual number of crimes committed in India. It also notes that in certain areas, especially in metropolitan cities, an increase in the cases of reported crime may actually occur due to better civic awareness and police behaviour, and may not be indicative of an actual increase in the incidents of crime. In spite of these admitted limitations, the NCRB report is useful for studying regional patterns and variations and in identifying the problem areas in Indian society and its law-and-order machinery.

The report shows that a total of 58,24,946 cognisable crimes were registered in India in 2022, including crimes reported under both the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws. Interestingly, the total number of crimes saw a decline of 4.5% as compared to 2021. Similarly, the crime rate (incidence of crimes per 1,00,000 of the population) dropped to 422.2 in 2022, while it was 445.9 in 2021.

One of the central takeaways from the NCRB report, among many other salient points, is the increase in the number of crimes reported against the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the Indian population. Crimes against women, children, senior citizens, SCs, and STs all reported an increase in 2022 as compared to 2021 by 4%, 8.7%, 9.3%, 13.1%, and 14.3%, respectively. These are extremely disturbing trends. An analysis of the spatial concentration and possible socio-economic correlates of crimes would be more revealing. Most crimes against women under the IPC were due to cruelty by their husbands or relatives (31.4%), kidnapping and abduction (19.2%), assault with an intent to outrage her modesty (18.7%), and rape (7.1%). The data pertaining to women and the marginalised and vulnerable sections further emphasises the NCRB’s caution about the difference between reported crimes and the actual numbers of crimes committed in India. While an increase in the numbers of reported crimes against these sections may be attributable to increased civic awareness, it is also a fact that marginalised groups face the highest amount of structural barriers and institutional indifference for as much as filing a first information report in a police station, let alone accessing subsequent levels of legal aid and justice.

Another major takeaway is the staggering increase in the reported instances of cybercrimes in 2022, which registered a 24.4% increase as compared to 2021. Telangana reported the highest number of cybercrimes in India, followed by Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Cybercrimes include a wide array of crimes related to tampering with documents, identity theft, personation, violation of privacy, cyber terrorism, publication and transmission of obscene material, data theft, cyber stalking and bullying, online banking frauds, dissemination of fake news, etc. The dramatic increase in cybercrimes highlights that the internet has emerged as one of the most intractable mediums for exploiting unsuspecting groups of people, where the identification and investigation of the crime proves to be exceedingly difficult due to the continuously evolving nature of sophisticated internet technologies.

Along with its flagship “Crime in India” report, the NCRB also released the “Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India 2022” (ADSI) report in December 2023. The term “accidental deaths” refers to deaths caused due to traffic accidents, fire accidents, deaths caused due to forces of nature, etc. The ADSI report also shows a distressing increase in the number of reported accidental deaths, which rose from 3,97,530 in 2021 to 4,30,504 in 2022. The maximum number of casualties under accidental deaths was reported in the age group of 30–45 years.

The number of suicides also increased from 1,64,033 in 2021 to 1,70,924 in 2022. Maharashtra recorded the highest number of suicides, followed by Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and West Bengal. These five states comprised nearly half of all reported suicides in India. The trend of daily wage earners reporting the highest number of suicides at 26.4% continued in 2022 as well, with housewives, unemployed persons, students, and farmers comprising 14.8%, 9.2%, 7.6%, and 6.6% of the reported deaths by suicides, respectively. Another grim finding about suicides in the ADSI report is that the majority of suicide victims (64.3%) in 2022 had an annual income of less than Rs. 1 lakh, revealing an insidious relation between suicides and adverse socio-economic conditions.

Since the publications of the NCRB are the main and official sources of crime statistics for various stakeholders, it is hoped that this data would generate a comprehensive debate and research into the causes of the rise in crimes against, and suicides among, women and other marginalised and vulnerable groups in Indian society.

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