Pune: The city recorded a marginal 3% drop in overall crimes in 2017, barring incidences of vehicle theft, molestation and drug peddling, as compared to 2016. However, cyber crime complaints and economic offences registered an almost three- and four-fold increase respectively.
Serious crimes like murder, robbery and chain-snatching, among others, continued to show a declining trend over the four years since 2014. In fact, chain-snatchings dropped from a high of 512 cases in 2014 to under 100 cases in 2017.
While the crime detection rate went up by almost 100%, the conviction rate dropped noticeably for serious crimes as well as offences under special enactments.
“Our efforts are on to increase the conviction rate,” police commissioner Rashmi Shukla said while releasing Pune’s annual crime statistics for 2017 on Friday. She attributed the drop in overall crimes to better investigation and detection of cases and preventive action under stringent laws such as MCOCA and MPDA against organised criminal gangs besides externment of criminals on police records. “2017 was a year of detection, good investigation and preventive action,” she said.
However, the police had no figures for the city’s crime rate in terms of incidences per one lakh population. A recent report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had put Pune’s crime rate at 387.2 per one lakh population for 2016. The city police is not known for calculating the annual crime rate.
Shukla said, “The city’s population has grown to nearly 70 lakh while our manpower is close to 12,000 personnel. Proposals regarding the setting up of a PCMC police commissioner’s office and new police stations, including a cyber police station, are pending with the state government.”
Referring to cyber crimes and economic offences, Shukla said the gap between the number of complaints reaching the police and those actually resulting in the registration of FIRs after a preliminary inquiry was significant. This was mainly because of the time taken in securing and scrutinising information and documents from different sources and factors like audit by professional chartered accountants.
Former senior police officers, however, said crime statistics ought to be viewed with a degree of circumspection as they need not essentially provide a true picture about the crime situation in a city.
Former director general of police Meeran Chadha Borwankar said, “The leadership and citizens should not go by crime statistics. Satisfaction of citizens by rendering services is important. At the same time, henious or serious offences show the real picture of crime in a city. By stressing on crime statistics, we are creating an impediment in the free registration of crimes. I strongly disbelieve that crime against women is showing a downward trend. Women in the state are aware and educated. They should come forward and lodge FIRs in matters such as molestation or rape.”
Former additional director general of police Rajendra Sonawane said, “Cyber crimes will continue to rise. More and more educated people are falling victim to such crimes. In most cases, cyber fraudsters operate from other states and even abroad. The conviction rate in cyber crimes is not satisfactory. Cyber criminals are well versed with loopholes in the enactments governing cyber space. They often come up with new and innovative ways of cheating people.”
Referring to economic offences, Sonawane said, “People are increasingly investing in various schemes to secure easy money. They don’t go to banks which operate under a strict legal framework. Till recently, investors have been putting their money in real estate and firms that promise handsome returns without verifying credentials and get cheated. The situation may change with initiatives such as mandatory Aadhaar linking.”