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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Is Odisha becoming crime prone? It seems so. The emergence of ‘new offenders’ (means in police lexicon they are either debut criminals or criminals arrested but acquitted) has posted an astronomical rise in Odisha.

Consider this. As per the NCRB report, in 2014, nearly 15 per cent of offenders were ‘serial criminals’ (means they are criminals who have seen conviction for their earlier crimes).

The proportion in year 2016 was drastically down to around 1 per cent. And in 2017, it had shrunk to a measly 0.2 per cent.

This means the new offenders in Odisha were 85 per cent in 2014, which then went up to 99.8 per cent in 2017, which is unique to the country's criminal jurisprudence system. No other state in the country has such huge proportion of 'new offenders'.

As per NCRB data 2017, Odisha police had made arrests to the tune of nearly 86,346 in over 83,583 IPC crimes, and only 148, including 7 juveniles, were the ‘serial criminals’ or arrested for their previous crimes.

The catch here is, as per State police data, repeated offenders are not spiking the crime rate but the ‘new offenders’.

Data shows Odisha police arrested a whopping 84,963 adults in 2017 for the first time. Similarly, it had arrested 1,235 juveniles under various sections of IPC for the first time. Moreover, the 2017 NCRB report revealed that around 98-99 per cent of the arrested offenders in riots, rapes, molestation, dacoity, burglary and murders were ‘new offenders’.

And if the trend remains unchanged in future then threat to law and order scenario in Odisha will be surely going for a complete tailspin.

Why this trend is a serious threat for the State police? Because, such criminals are out of the State Police radar. Police usually keep a track on the movement of ‘serial criminals’ only, explained a senior police official in the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB).

In this context, the future also looks very scary for Odisha. Because, in the year 2017 the acquittal rate had touched a new high.

While for the last four years, the State was seeing criminals’ average acquittal rate to the tune of 64 per cent, the rate spurted to a massive 91 per cent in 2017. This means of every 100 criminals arrested, only 9 see punishment. In contrast, the national average had been around 49 for every 100 arrests made.

Another interesting comparison here is when the population of criminals in Odisha overwhelmingly stood at 86,346, the police personnel stood at mere 35, 486.


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