ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

भारत के अपराध आंकड़ों से जुड़े विवाद

What should we know to make our crime statistics reliable?


The translations of EPW Editorials have been made possible by a generous grant from the H T Parekh Foundation, Mumbai. The translations of English-language Editorials into other languages spoken in India is an attempt to engage with a wider, more diverse audience. In case of any discrepancy in the translation, the English-language original will prevail.


The credibility of the National Crime Records Bureaus (NCRB) statistics is perennially doubted in this country, especially since the late 1990s, when the numbers began revealing declining trends in the incidence of crime per lakh population. With the recent release of the NCRBs Crime in India 2017, this mistrust has only exacerbated. First, due to the timing of the release of the report, which, following the NCRBs conventional practice of annual release for almost six decades now, should have been released in 2017. Second, during this hiatus in publicising the annual crime statistics of 2017, the bureau did not come up with convincing responses to the right to information applications seeking the reasons for this undue delay. Third, and specifically in light of the first two reasons, it is not unusual that a staggering 33% decline in the crime rate within half a decadefrom 576.99 in 2010 to 388.6 in 2017is appearing unfounded to many. An intuitive argument is that neither the current demographic transition nor the economic transformation seem to provide conducive conditions for such a decline.

Crime declines in India, however, are in tandem with the global trend of crime dropobserved mostly in the industrialised countries since the 1990sthat has not only been well-documented, but also much debated. While concurrence (or the lack of it) regarding the veracity of such crime-drop statistics is usually facilitated by corroborative (or divergent) estimates from other data sources (such as the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institutes International Crime Victims Surveys [ICVS]), in most of these countries, the process of ratification is taken a step ahead by the academic discourses that explore the drivers underlying the drop. In the Indian case, the very basic verification of official crime statistics is impaired by the dearth of alternative benchmarks. Whatever little was available, such as the only ICVS conducted in 1992, had generated victimisation estimates that were way higher than comparable official estimates of crime rates for that year.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.