The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Launches Trailblazing Report on Crime and Safety


The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Launches Trailblazing Report on Crime and Safety

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has launched one of the first surveys on crime victimisation and public safety perception. The report titled, “Crime Victimisation and Safety Perception: A Public Survey of Delhi and Mumbai”, was presented in Delhi to a gathering of civil society and police representatives from around the country.  The study focuses on crimes both reported and unreported to the police, reasons for not reporting crime, satisfaction with the police and the public’s overall perception of safety.

Emphasizing the value of the report, the Director of CHRI, Mrs Maja Daruwala, said, “The data gathered from a survey such as this gives an insight into how to bridge the gap between crime experience and crime reporting. The findings could also be used to help the police and government to allocate limited resources strategically and scientifically”.

“This kind of engagement with policing demonstrates the value civil society can add to safety and security of the community,” she added.

Nandkumar Saravade, a retired IPS officer who advised CHRI on the report refered to the report as learning experience for the police. “Learning will be in the policy area,” he said. “The one thing that comes across in the report is that it identifies the problem areas so that the police can work on it.”

“ This report can be used as a management tool [for the police],” said Renuka Sane of  the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi & Visiting Fellow at IDFC Institute, a Mumbai-based think tank.

Dr. Ronald Meinardus, the regional director of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit, a German, Delhi-based advocacy group said, “One of the outstanding features of this project has been the active cooperation, yes inclusion, of the police forces.”

“The state is obliged to defend the human rights of the citizens. The state has an obligation to protect the security of the citizens and also provide such services that prevent violence against them. This is the core mission of efficient and legitimate policing”, he added.

The survey was administered by Nielson India Pvt. Limited who designed the study and was supported by European Union and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit, India.

Some of the key findings of the study:

1.Thirteen percent of households surveyed in Delhi and 15% in Mumbai experienced at least one of the seven crime categories in the study.

2.Theft was the most commonly experienced crime, specially theft of cell phones, followed by assault and sexual harassment.

3.Most who did not report crimes said they did not want to be caught up in bureaucracy 

4.Non-Hindi speaking households in Delhi experienced crime more frequently than the Hindi speaking population, but did not report feeling less safe. However, non-Marathi speakers in Mumbai reported feeling less safe in comparison to Marathi speakers—and reported feeling that crime was a big problem.

5.In both cities, people’s fear of crime closely relates to the actual incidence of crime seen through the surveys. Theft is the universal top-most fear. In Delhi, respondents were 4 times more fearful of sexual crimes than those in Mumbai. Households in Mumbai generally were more fearful of assault than Delhiites.

6.Mumbai residents tended to perceive the police positively, while the perception in Delhi was more evenly split between positive and negative. Views were quite consistent across income classes in Mumbai. In Delhi, many high- and mid-income households answered that their perception was very positive or positive. While many low-income households did as well, more answered neutral or negative than the other two income groups.

7.In both cities, the majority of all crimes take place from 12PM to 6PM.

8.Safety perception increases with prosperity, which parallels the trend that fewer high-income households are falling victim to crime. This pattern is more evident in Delhi. However, even poor households in Mumbai feel safer than their counterparts in Delhi.