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Crime in India: a spatio-temporal analysis

Abstract

Using National Crime Records Bureau and National Sample Survey data, this article explores the Spatio-temporal patterns of different types of crime in India. To explain these spatial patterns, we use spatial panel data regression techniques that account for spatial dependencies between different crimes and their socio-economic predictors at the NSS-region level. The results show that different types of crime have different time consistent spatial clustering of high and low crime regions. Evidence has been found that the prevalence of crime in a region is influenced by the crime rate of its neighbouring regions. This influence is linked to the spatial diffusion of criminal behaviour and harmful social norms that spread across contiguous regions over time. Our results also confirm the importance of various socio-economic variables like female literacy rate, sex ratio, inequality, regional prosperity, etc., in shaping the prevalence of crime in India. These findings could have significant implications for the policies aiming to reduce crime.

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Fig. 1–12

Data availability

This study is based on secondary data sources of NCRB, Census of India, NSSO. These data sets are all available in the public domain. No ethical clearance was required for the utilization of these data sets.

Notes

  1. Since the latest NCRB crime data is available for 2020, therefore our terminal time point, 2020, contains a two-year moving average of crime rates based on crime data from 2019 and 2020.

  2. NSSO categorizes households based on their primary sources of income during the last 365 days before the survey date. In rural areas, households have been classified into six categories, namely self- employed in agriculture, self- employed in non-agriculture, regular wage/salary earnings, casual labour in agriculture, casual labour in non-agriculture and others. Whereas urban areas have four categories; self- employed, regular wage/salary earning, casual labour and others. Considering the casual labour households in agriculture and non-agriculture for rural areas and the casual labour households in urban areas, we have calculated the region-wise percentage of casual labour households.

  3. The caste system is a system of social stratification within the Hindu communities that emerged from the ancient 'Varna System' (Nathan et al., 2012), whereby life prospects were determined by an individual's birth in a certain group or community (Anand 2005). In India, the scheduled castes and tribes' members are also called lower castes or 'Dalits'. As per Hindu religious beliefs, 'all human beings are not born equal' (Suhasini 2008). This automatically creates caste-based discrimination, and consequently, the lower castes members have become the victims of violence and atrocities at the hand of the upper castes.

  4. Since no further NSS thick rounds are available after the Periodic Labour Force Survey of 2018-19, we excluded the 2020 crime data from our regression models.

  5. The DMSP nighttime light data are not available to the public after 2013. The advent of the new generation of global nighttime light data from the VIIRS satellites makes it possible to continue the global nighttime light monitoring after 2012.

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Acknowledgements

I am thankful to Dr. Simantini Mukhopadhyay, Assistant Professor of Economics, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata and Prof. Achin Chakraborty, Professor of Economics and Director, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions on this work.

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Appendix 1: Classification of major IPC crimes from 2005 to 2020

Appendix 1: Classification of major IPC crimes from 2005 to 2020

Crime against body (i) Murder (Sec.302 IPC), (ii) Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder (Sec.304 IPC), (iii) Causing Death by Negligence (Sec.304-A IPC) (Deaths due to Negligence relating to Road Accidents, Deaths due to Negligence relating to Rail Accidents, Deaths due to Medical Negligence, Deaths due to Negligence of Civic Bodies, Deaths due to other Negligence), (iv) Abetment of Suicide (Sec.305/306 IPC), (v) Attempt to Commit Murder (Sec.307 IPC), (vi) Attempt to commit Culpable Homicide (Sec.308 IPC), (vii) Attempt to Commit Suicide (Sec.309 IPC), (viii) Miscarriage, Infanticide, Foeticide and Abandonment (Sec.313 to 318 IPC), (ix) Hurt (Simple Hurt, Grievous Hurt), (x) Wrongful Restraint/Confinement (Sec.341 to 348 IPC), (xi) Kidnapping and Abduction, (xii) Human Trafficking (U/S 370), (xiii) Exploitation of Trafficked Person 370A IPC), (xvi) Selling of Minors for Prostitution (Sec.372 IPC), (xv) Buying of Minors for Prostitution (Sec.373 IPC)
Crime against property (i) Theft (Sect. 379 IPC) (Auto/ Motor Vehicle Theft, Other Thefts), (ii) Burglary (Sec.454 to 460 r/w Sec.380 IPC), (iii) Extortion & Blackmailing (Sec.384 to 389 IPC), (iv) Robbery (Sec.392/394/397 IPC), (v) Attempt to Commit Dacoity/Robbery (Sec.393 & 398 IPC), (vi) Dacoity, (vii) Making Preparation and Assembly for committing Dacoity (Sec.399 & 402 IPC), (viii) Criminal Misappropriation (Sec.403/404 r/w Other IPC), (ix) Criminal Breach of Trust (Sec.406 to 409 IPC), (x) Dishonestly Receiving/Dealing-in Stolen Property (Sec.411 to 414 IPC)
Crime against public order (i) Arson (Sec.435, 436 & 438 IPC), (ii) Offences against State (Sedition (Sec.124A IPC), Others (Sec.121, 121A, 122 & 123 IPC)), (iii) Unlawful Assembly (Sec.143, 144 & 145), (iv) Offences against Public Tranquillity (Rioting (Sec.1470151 IPC), Offences promoting enmity between different groups), (v) Affray (Sec.159 & 160 IPC)
Economic crimes (i) Counterfeiting (Counterfeit Coin (Sec.231–235,237,238–240 & 242–254 IPC), Counterfeiting Government Stamp (Sec.255 to 260 IPC), Counterfeiting of Seal or Mark (Sec.472/473 IPC), Counterfeit Currency & Bank notes (Sec.489-A to 489-E IPC), (ii) Fraud (Sec.420 r/w Sec.465,468–471 IPC/IT Act), (iii) Cheating (Sec.420 IPC), (iv) Forgery
Gender-based violence (i) Dowry Deaths (Sec.304-B IPC), (ii) Rape (Sec.376 IPC) (Custodial rape and other rape), (iii) Attempt to Commit Rape (Sec.376/511 IPC), (iv) Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty (Assault on Women (Sec.354 IPC), Sexual Harassment (Sec.354A IPC), Assault or use of Criminal Force on women with intent to Disrobe (Sec.354B IPC), Voyeurism (Sec.354C IPC), Stalking (Sec.354D IPC)), (v) Cruelty by Husband or his Relatives (Sec.498-A IPC), (vii) Insult to the Modesty of Women (Sec.509 IPC
Other crime Other crime is a residual category. No further information is available on what are the crime types that constitute this category
  1. N.B: This classification of crimes has been done following the classification provided by the ‘Parliament Library and Reference, Research, Documentation and Information Service’ (LARRDIS) and NCRB.

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Kabiraj, P. Crime in India: a spatio-temporal analysis. GeoJournal (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-022-10684-7

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Keywords

  • Crime
  • Spatial pattern
  • India
  • Diffusion
  • Regional prosperity