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National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Report 2017

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October 29, 2019

What is the issue?

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report 2017 was released recently.
  • It presents numbers on different aspects of the criminal justice system, there are crucial gaps in the data collected.

What is the basis for classification?

  • Offences under crime have been categorised outside the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and other special and local laws.
  • While the report states that socio-economic causative factors or reasons of crimes have not been captured, the non-legislative parameters for classifying some offences have not been adequately explained.
  • This raises questions about the basis for classification.
  • The purpose of such classification would be achieved only if a more detailed description of the categories was provided for motives.
  • In contrast to crime statistics, prison statistics do not provide any such offence-wise data on under trials and convicts.
  • This prevents cross-referencing and examination of the numbers in both reports.
  • While prison statistics provide information on the different kinds of sentences being served by convicts, these numbers haven’t been categorised on the basis of offences.

What are the other concerns?

  • It is impossible to gain insights into the sentencing trends for various offences and in various States or formulate policy on sentencing.
  • There are concerns about the methods of computation and presentation of data.
  • While recording rates of recidivism, the report collects State-wise information on the number of juveniles and adults who were arrested earlier but not convicted, and those who were previously convicted.
  • However, this data’s reliability is questionable, given the understanding of recidivism.
  • It is understood as arrests of people who may not have been convicted earlier for crimes they were suspected or accused of committing, and who may not be convicted again.
  • This is especially problematic given that socio-economically marginalised people are known to repeatedly come in conflict with the law, and are routinely arrested and released on mere suspicion.
  • There are methodological concerns about the rate of calculating charge-sheeting.
  • It is measured based on the total number of cases disposed of by the police, and not the total number of cases for investigation.
  • There are similar concerns about the presentation of data on arrests, convictions and acquittals.
  • The statistics in this section do not speak to the total number of cases disposed of by courts in 2017.

What could be done?

  • In order to effectuate sound policies which do justice to the goals of reformation and rehabilitation, it is important to critically understand existing programmes.
  • While current prison statistics provide some information on the kind of facilities available for reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners, they do not go beyond the enrolment rate to evaluate their efficacy.
  • In the absence of information on the quality and impact of these programmes, robust policies cannot be formulated.
  • These policies would ensure successful reintegration of prisoners and provide those serving life-term imprisonments (52.6% of all convicts) an opportunity to reform.
  • These policies are especially important since 94.4% of those entering the criminal justice system were arrested for the first time.
  • In a political system that pays little attention to those in conflict with the law, the importance of these statistics is undeniable.
  • However, in order to explore more precise and effective solutions to criminal justice issues, NCRB must first take steps towards ensuring the accuracy, reliability and comprehensiveness of these reports.


Source: The Hindu

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