Essay on Problems involved in Crime Prevention in India!
An objective evaluation of crime prevention programme further suggests that there is a growing need for enhancing the existing powers of the police relating to arrest, interrogation and search of suspected persons. Police officials should be empowered to arrest a suspected offender even without a warrant.
Experience has shown that much time is lost in observing the procedural formalities of law which afford sufficient opportunity for the offender to escape detection. Moreover, it is quite often noticed that proceedings against the apprehended person are dropped on flimsy grounds of procedural irregularity or jurisdictional error etc.
As a result of this, many offenders go unpunished due to procedural flaws in the system of arrest, detention, interrogation and search which certainly threatens the security of society. That apart, the police in India is looked with distrust and bias. They are generally accused of misuse of power. In situations warranting stem action the police is often criticised for atrocities and excesses.
Public criticism has a demoralising effect on police officials and they find it difficult to perform their law enforcement duties with confidence without an active support from the public. The lack of public-police co-operation is therefore, a contributing factor for the failure of efforts to cope with the rising incidence of crime and delinquency.
It must be recognised that the devastating effect of corruption is perhaps the major obstacle in effective implementation of the crime prevention programmes. In order to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility among public officials with a view to preventing corruption, adequate measures need to be taken to evolve transparent systems of procurement and developing codes of conduct for judicial and prosecution services.
The menace of corruption has assumed transnational dimensions over the years affecting all societies and economies. Therefore, it has to be encountered with stringent regulatory measures both at the national as well as the international level. In India, notorious criminals often manage to escape detection and prosecution by resorting to corrupt practices or bribing the concerned officials which has a negative impact on common man thereby tarnishing the image of criminal justice administration system.
Another important aspect of crime problem relates to certain new offences such as bank-robberies, forgery, counterfeiting, causing death by slow poisoning or committing theft or robbery by administering anesthetics, etc. which are of a comparatively recent origin. They are essentially an outcome of modern developments in science and technology.
The development of Information Technology and widespread use of electronic communications has brought with it new challenges in the form of computer related crimes on global networks which require new legal and technical mechanisms to combat and fight these cyber offences. These crimes are committed from or against a computer or network and they differ from terrestrial crimes in four ways, namely,
(i) It is easy to learn how to commit them;
(ii) They require relatively less resources as compared to damages caused,
(iii) They can be committed without being physically present on the spot; and
(iv) They are not clearly illegal.
The real problem faced in combating these crimes is that the existing laws are un-enforceable against such crimes because of the transnational nature of cyberspace. The cyber criminals can defy the conventional jurisdiction of foreign nations by originating an attack from almost any computer in the world, passing across multiple national boundaries, or designating attacks that appear to be originating from foreign sources. Therefore, there is need for an International model legislation to tackle cyber crime.
Politicalisation of democratic institutions and party-politics of politicians have added new dimensions to the crime problem. Group rivalries, caste based politics and vote-catching malpractices have a devastating effect on public order and tranquillity as the incidents of tensions, assaults, violence, arson, kidnapping and even murders are common occurrence in the state of political turmoil. Prisonisation is hardly an appropriate remedy for such offenders. Moral education and creative awareness about social responsibility may perhaps bring these law-violators on proper track.
Terrorism is yet another crime problem of recent origin. Terrorists indulge in large scale violence and anti-social activities which have disturbed public life. The States of Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and even Assam and north-east border regions are in the grip of terrorism these days.
The terrorists risk their life under a compelling moral conviction and indulge in a kind of heroic aura. They are fully aware that their life is at stake but the fascination of violence and risked death for possible martyrdom tends to make them law violators.
Needless to say, that death penalty is hardly a suitable punishment for terrorists as it would mean accepting their misconceived values. Perhaps, deprivation of civil rights and public indignation may be a better alternative for such murderous offenders.
The Asian and Pacific Regional Preparatory Seminar held in Bangkok on 29- 31 March, 2004, emphasised the need for international cooperation to fight against terrorism and links between terrorism and other criminal activities which are a threat to internal and external peace and security.
The seminar recognised that action against terrorism could not be effective within the framework of the mandate of the Terrorism Prevention Branch as recommended by the United Nations. Regional cooperation to counter terrorism was the need of the time.
Growing awareness of criminals about new methods of criminality and devices to escape detection makes it necessary for the law enforcement agencies to acquaint themselves with the newer techniques of crime and device measures to ensure crime detection. Some of the more recent detection devices are the use of fingerprints or foot-prints, forensic ballistics, truth-telling drugs, tapes, polygraph lie-detector, computers, etc.
These methods have proved immensely useful in spotting out criminals. The admissibility of confession made by the accused under the influence of truth telling drugs has, however, been seriously questioned by certain legal authorities. They argue that such a confession cannot be accepted as a reliable piece of evidence because it can hardly be said to have been made voluntarily.
It must be realised that criminality cannot be dealt with effectively without adequate knowledge of forensic science. Unfortunately, this area has remained fairly neglected in India. Therefore, there is need to develop expertise in the field of forensic science which may be used in investigation and detection of crimes. More recently, the science of hypnotism is also being used for crime detection and police officials are being trained in this branch of knowledge at the Forensic Training Institute at Calcutta.
Utilisation of the services of ‘police dogs’ (Sniffer Dogs) in spotting out criminals is one of the most significant developments in the area of crime detection in recent times. The device is extensively being used in tracing out the offenders and detecting crimes which are committed under mysterious circumstances.
It is significant to note that in cases where the services of police sniffer-dog are utilised for the detection of crime, it is necessary to ensure that the place of its occurrence must be left completely untampered. The sniffer-dog must be brought to the place of crime within forty-eight hours of its occurrence. There is again a controversy about the evidentiary value of the detections made with the assistance of police-dogs.
The American Courts accept police sniffer-dog as a valid piece of evidence against the accused provided it corroborates with other evidence in the case. But if this evidence is not corroborated by other evidence, then in that case, it cannot be accepted as an evidence sufficient enough to warrant conviction of the accused.
The Indian law also takes a similar stand in this regard. The reason advanced for the necessity of corroboration of police-dog’s evidence is that these trained dogs may err in tracing out the offender correctly. Moreover, they being animals can neither speak nor be subjected to cross-examination.
Crime control essentially involves the services of well trained personnel who possess adequate knowledge about different kinds of offences and the related statistical data about crime and criminals. It must be remembered that the magnitude of the various form of crime in a particular State can be ascertained by an analysis of the crime statistics.
The crime statistics generally do not present a true picture of crime incidence because many a crimes remain undetected and many more unreported. Moreover, statistics being the measuring rod for gauging the efficiency of the institutions connected with crime and criminals, the police, the courts and the prisons, may be inclined to furnish deceptive figures about their performance.
Despite this possibility, the fact remains that statistics do play an important role in crime detection. Rise in crime statistics of a particular area draws the attention of law administrators to locate the cause of mounting criminality in that region and suggest measures to combat it. Crime statistics therefore, provide necessary guidance and clue to those who are concerned with the prevention of crime.
Computerisation of statistics is sure to put a check on the possibility of manipulations of manual statistics and present a true picture of crime incidence. It is heartening to note that the police headquarters of most of the States have a separate Computer-Department of their own for this purpose.
In India, the CRIME IN INDIA published by the National Crime Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, brings out annual survey of incidence of total cognizable crimes under the Indian Penal Code and the local and special laws. Although these statistics do not reflect the actual extent of crime in the country as a whole, distinct trends are, however, easily discernible from them. It is on the basis of these statistics that strategies for prevention of crimes and repetition thereof are planned by the criminal law administrators.
Law’s delay has often been treated as a potential hindrance in crime prevention. With the loss of time between the incidence of crime and punishment of the offender, the gravity of crime is completely lost. It is therefore, desired that criminal trials should be speedy and offenders should be expeditiously punished so that the law does not lose its deterrent effect.
The increasing role of psychology and psychiatry in the field of penology has helped in understanding the problem of crime and criminals in its proper perspective. Criminality is now attributed to psychiatric defects in the offender. It is now universally accepted that infliction of pain and suffering through imprisonment serves no useful purpose for the rehabilitation of offenders.
As stated earlier, the basic philosophy that underlies the modem clinical methods is that the offender should be treated and not punished. It is because of this fundamental perception that the importance of prisons is receding day by day and correctional measures such as probation, parole; open camps and reformatories are being extensively used for the rehabilitation of offenders.
The modem clinical measures stress on the need for a deeper insight into the human nature and psychology working behind the offender. The goal of modem penology is to bring about a change in the mentality of the criminal through a process of moral education and social reformation.
It must be conceded that crime is not a unitary phenomenon but a composite reaction of multiple factors. Therefore, no single theory can provide a satisfactory explanation for the varieties of the behaviour involved in the criminal act. Reformation of the offender should be brought about within the community itself through the process of rehabilitation.
In drawing up any programme for crime prevention, it must be realised that mere treatment does not help in the ultimate rehabilitation of offenders. The stigma which the society attaches to the released inmates continues as a life-long punishment for him even after the end of the period of his incarceration.
Therefore, it sometimes becomes difficult for an offender to go back to the community as a decent citizen despite his sincere and genuine desire to live an honest and upright life. The social, economic, psychological and legal problems faced by the released prisoner make his life difficult.
Therefore, it is of vital importance to develop adequate after-care services as an integral part of the correctional penology. It can help a discharged inmate in his social as well as vocational rehabilitation. Britain has introduced hostel service for the released prisoners to provide them shelter and protection. Similar system may be adopted in India which may help in prevention of crime to a great extent.
According to noted criminologist Nigel Walker one of the indirect techniques of crime prevention is reduction of opportunities for criminal acts. This includes control over the sale of fire-arms, explosives, poisons, etc., and restrictions on holding public meetings, prohibiting illegal entry and adequate lighting of public places and roads. It will make the task of opportunity-seeker criminals difficult.