Crime in India – What the data says

The 2016 figures for crime in India are out. The report, published by the Ministry of Home Affairs, suggests that the country’s crime hotspots often overlap with areas frequented by foreign nationals.

Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi

The report, issued by the NCRB, has a chapter devoted to crimes against foreigners. Easily the riskiest area in this regard is the capital Delhi, which draws a combination of foreign nationals that includes tourists, business travellers and diplomats. It recorded an astonishing 40 per cent of all crimes against foreign nationals in India in 2016, followed by Maharashtra (9.9 per cent), the tourist magnets of Puducherry (8.6 per cent) and Rajasthan (6.5 per cent), Tamil Nadu on 6.3 per cent and the beach resort of Goa (5.8 per cent).

The figures for Delhi illustrate the extent to which organisations operating in that city need to prioritise duty of care for staff. However, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are of equal concern for foreign investors. Although both states have a tourism industry, they are better known for the commercial hub cities of Mumbai, Pune and Chennai, suggesting that the high crime numbers against foreign nationals are being driven by incidents involving business travellers and expatriate staff as well as petty and sexual crimes involving tourists.

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According to the data, there were 30 per cent more cases of non-tourist foreign nationals being targeted in 2016 than tourists, although it should be noted that the non-tourists include visitors from neighbouring countries such as China, Bangladesh and Nepal who might have social relationships that are more densely knit into India, inducing different varieties of criminality against them.

The picturesque former French enclave of Puducherry, near Chennai, is a likely leisure destination for staff based in Chennai. Its high crime rate relative to its small size suggests that visitors could be targeted by criminals. Puducherry and Tamil Nadu both saw an increase in crimes against foreigners in 2016, whereas Goa and Maharashtra have seen declines over the past three years, although it should be noted that crime numbers are prone to sharp fluctuations between years.

The most common type of crime committed against foreign nationals is, predictably, theft, with 142 thefts against foreigners lodged across India in 2016 (many more will have gone unreported). Of greater concern are the 38 cases of sexual assault – again, likely to be a small fraction of the overall rate – of which only two resulted in conviction, and 19 of rape, resulting in zero convictions.

Foreign nationals are also perpetrators of crime. The Indian state of West Bengal records easily the most such cases (42.4 per cent of the national share) due to deportations of Muslim Bengalis from neighbouring Bangladesh, formerly East Bengal. Otherwise, most crimes committed by foreigners were various types of fraud and drug-dealing.

Computer world

Usefully, the report also includes a chapter on cyber-crimes, an ever-more prominent concern for businesses operating in India. The twin capitals of cyber-crime in India are the cities of Mumbai and Bengaluru (Bangalore), which between them account for more than 40 per cent of cases, alongside their prominence in the business and tech sectors.

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