If statistics are taken as a reflection of crime pattern in the city, the latest data released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) for 2018 and by the city police for 2019 reflects a continuing downward trend in the rate of cognisable crimes in the city and an increase in economic and cybercrime offences, which points to a shift towards digital offences.
As per data shared by NCRB on Thursday, the IPC crimes have gone down from 15,144 in 2017 to 11,551 in 2018, which stood at 16,296 for the year 2016. It also must be noted that the number of murder cases in the city dropped from 142 in 2014 to 72 and 74 in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The pattern clearly reflects a downward trend in violent offences as 125 murder cases were lodged in 2015 and 110 in 2017.
Similarly, Crime against women reduced to 1,481 cases in 2018 from 2,032 in 2017, while crime cases against children reduced to 877 in 2018 from 1,335 in 2017.
If the pattern of digital offences is to be taken into consideration, the number of complaints received by the cyber cell of the city police rises from mere 350 in 2014 to above 6,000 in 2019. The cybercrime department of the city police attributed the rise to traditional cybercrime as well as the new cybercrime patterns, which kept on emerging with the rise of digital platforms.
Speaking on the change in crime pattern, an official of the city police said, “Earlier with the rise in the population of the city, it was expected that crime rate would increase. However, as crime pattern changes with the socio-economic structure of the society, we see a number of people falling prey to digital and online scams. In online frauds, we saw increase in phishing cases, as the number of people using digital mode for payment increased. Similarly, people started using mobile wallets even though they were unaware of how to use it, which was beneficial for fraudsters, as they could easily cheat them. The penetration of mobile and the Internet has increased giving way to digital crimes.”
Speaking on the crime pattern another police official said, “The shift from violent offences to digital offences has been a step by step procedure and the policing pattern has also changed. In 2014, the number of chain snatching cases were 509, which came down to mere 74 in 2019. Now, since there is rise in digital frauds, we are now strengthening our force to tackle online crimes.”
A policeman in Viman Nagar pleaded, “Please do something to make people aware of cybercrimes. But what to do about one’s greed and lack of common sense when it comes to money matters.”
And this topic has often come up in conversations with police officials in different police stations, as there is an exponential rise in different cybercrimes in the last few years.
“The cyber police station is getting bulk of complaints and after preliminary enquiry, these are forwarded to the local police stations for further investigations. The cyber police stations received over 6,000 complaints (whereas the total FIRs were 8,600 last year). The cases are registered even for withdrawal of small amounts but it is not feasible for the department to send staff to faraway places in Jharkhand, Delhi, NCR, etc, to arrest the accused person,” said a senior police inspector in-charge of a police station, who did not want to be identified.
DCP Sambhaji Kadam, who heads the cybercrime and economic offences wing (EOW) of Pune city police, told Sakal Times, “Awareness is the key to prevent cybercrime. Over 90 per cent victims are well-educated but they fall prey to the trap of fraudsters and give away their bank account details, credit/debit card details, and one-time password (OTP) also. We have prepared booklets detailing various frauds and have uploaded them on our website. Our teams also visit schools and colleges for awareness. Sessions are also held for staffs of various companies.”