Delhi Police needs urgent steps to strenghten ties, regain faith of citizens; filling up vacancies key for quick probes, disposal of cases

The survey results show that of the total households surveyed in Delhi, 10 percent respondents witnessed crimes in the city, of which 57 percent did not report it to the police.

Praja Foundation January 31, 2020 11:57:13 IST
Delhi Police needs urgent steps to strenghten ties, regain faith of citizens; filling up vacancies key for quick probes, disposal of cases
  • The survey results show that of the total households surveyed in Delhi, 10 percent respondents witnessed crimes in the city, of which 57 percent did not report it to the police.

  • Most importantly, citizens need to gain faith and be comfortable in reaching out to police when they witness or face crime.

  • Adequate police personnel are key to timely investigation and ensuring justice through strong evidence.

In times when the primary function of the police to secure lives of the general public is being violated in the National Capital and other parts of the country, a study in Delhi shows that poor public trust in the police leads to underreporting of crimes.

RTI data collected by Praja, a non-partisan organisation working towards enabling accountable governance, shows that in Delhi although the reporting of rape fell by 6 percent and molestation by 30 percent in the same period, the number of cases is much higher than say in Mumbai. For example, 1,965 cases of rape were reported in Delhi in 2018-19, which is 151 percent more than the 784 rape cases reported in Mumbai in the same period.

Delhi Police needs urgent steps to strenghten ties regain faith of citizens filling up vacancies key for quick probes disposal of cases

File image of Delhi Police. Reuters

Further, data of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act shows that sexual crimes against children are on the rise -- 63 percent of total rape cases in Delhi were against children. Although overall rapes reported has fallen from 2017-18 to 2018-19 the number of reported rapes under POCSO has gone up from 1,137 to 1,237 in the same period.

This also corresponds to the high number of kidnapping and abduction cases against females. The proportion of kidnapping and abduction cases against girls and women has been rising in the last four years while in 2015-16, 56 percent cases were of girl child kidnapping which in 2018-19 rose to 70 percent. Similarly, in 2015-16, 53 percent cases of abduction were of women, which rose to 75 percent in 2018-19.

While these numbers itself portray a grim picture of crimes in India’s capital city, a survey of 27,121 households in Delhi commissioned by Praja to Hansa Research throws light on a deeper and much more serious problem related to the law and order system.

Under-reporting of crimes

The survey results show that of the total households surveyed in Delhi, 10 percent respondents witnessed crimes in the city, of which 57 percent did not report it to the police. Similarly, 35 percent respondents had faced crime, of which 26 percent did not report it to the police.

This shows that the number of crimes is higher than the cases registered with the police stations and all victims who face crime or those who witness crime do not report the same to the police. This implies that people are not very forthcoming to seek redress in the criminal justice system.

Disinterest, fear and lack of faith

Respondents were asked the reasons why they did not report a crime witnessed or faced to the police. The major reasons included ‘not wanting to get into any trouble’, and ‘don’t have time for all this’. A considerable percentage of those who faced crime (25 percent in Delhi) said they did not report to the police because ‘speaking to police officials is a painful task.’

Of those who faced crime and did not inform the police, 26 percent in Delhi said that they ‘did not have faith in the police/legal system’.

This clearly highlights the lacunae of the law and order system in making the policing and justice process accessible and comforting for a victim, due to which the overall perception towards the police has become unfavourable. Moreover, less than 10 percent of reported crimes had an FIR filed. Respondents who reported crime were further asked about the method in which crimes were reported to which 63 percent respondents in Delhi who faced crime called the helpline numbers. Only 4 percent respondents of those who witnessed and 5 percent of those who faced crime filed an FIR at the police station.

Satisfaction with the police officials

Of most public services provided, people’s feedback is not considered. To get an idea of satisfaction of people towards police officials, Praja asked respondents who had registered cases with the police station of their satisfaction with the police. The satisfaction with the police was very low in Delhi as only 28 percent of those who witnessed crime and 27 percent of those who faced crime and reported, were satisfied. As a comparison, in a similar survey conducted in Mumbai, 87 percent of those who witnessed crime and 86 percent of those who faced crime and reported, were satisfied. Apart from socio-economic factors that deter the reporting of crimes, systemic factors such as the functioning of the policing and law and order act as a hindrance to timely justice.

Shortage of police personnel

Adequate police personnel are key to timely investigation and ensuring justice through strong evidence. RTI data on police personnel in Delhi shows a shortage of key investigation officers. In 2018-19, there was a shortage of 36 percent in the post of police sub-inspector which leads to major delays in investigating cases. This is especially the case in heinous crimes such as rape, where a timely investigation is a key to gathering sufficient evidence.

The Crime in India annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2017 showed that in Delhi, 35 percent Indian Penal Code cases were pending for police investigation, and 89 percent triable Indian Penal Code cases were pending in the courts.

Further, for a city like Delhi, which is ‘plagued’ by multiple governance agencies, and the Central government has control over law and order and policing functions rather than the state, it only adds to people’s alienation towards the policing system.

How can public trust be restored?

There is a dire need to overhaul the system so that the law and order situation can be strengthened immensely. It is crucial that sanctioned posts are filled with skilled police personnel for effective policing in crime-prone regions along with meticulous investigations. Furthermore, session court cases need to reach a time-bound resolution, for timely justice to be ensured.

Most importantly, citizens need to gain faith and be comfortable in reaching out to police when they witness or face crime. For this, the police-citizen relation needs to be improved through trust-building and awareness. Police officials need to be sensitised through training and counselling to involve citizens as partners in policing. Citizens, on the other hand, need to be made aware, to be alert about their neighbourhood and surroundings and report any criminal and /or miscreant activity to the police officials.

This can be done through regular police-community meetings conducted with local police, representatives of different socio-economic sections (age, gender, caste, religion, language, region, class etc.) and community-based organisations. These can work together in changing attitudes, instilling awareness in all age groups and in building a collaborative approach to reporting of crimes.

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