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Preventing Crime


Is it not strange that, despite the hugely enhanced traceability due to digital connectivity and surveillance, people are still committing crimes? There are professional criminals, for whom it is a livelihood, and amateur ones, whose motivation is often psychological. These may also be identified as blue and white collar crimes, the first involving violence and the other mostly skullduggery.

Despite all the advantages of modern technology, police still have to investigate, put in the hard work intelligently to crack the case. Two recent incidents in Dehradun, that of a Lt Colonel murdering his lover, and the other of a jilted woman killing a former lover with the help of her brother, are examples of how seemingly ‘blind’ cases, which in former times could have remained a mystery, are now solved in a matter of days. Police have acquired the skills and developed the motivation to pursue these cases successfully.

Despite news about such successful investigations being reported on a daily basis, why do people still put their entire lives at stake to commit such crimes? Some are ‘crimes passionnel’ committed in the heat of the moment, followed by desperate attempts at cover-up. Others are premeditated but only in the immediate context of a disturbed emotional state. Both the above mentioned crimes are probably in that category – act in haste and repent at leisure in jail!

So, while the investigative capability may have substantially improved because of technology, it is important to realise that police work has also to do with prevention of crime. While police cannot know where exactly trouble is brewing, it must develop the skills to see early signs and patterns of unusual behaviour. Cops need to understand the usual patterns in their areas of jurisdiction and note what’s not in accord. This requires training of various kinds and a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to the job. It will not do for cops on patrol duty to be parked at some convenient spot gazing into their smartphones, oblivious of what’s happening around them.

There is also a developing culture in films and social media of glamourising crime. The less sophisticated and impressionable minds think that it is ‘cool’ and psychologically fulfilling to indulge in dangerously criminal activity, many even get their ideas from such shows. It becomes important, therefore, for the establishment and the police, in particular, to counter this belief by presenting the true picture before the youth, the primary targets of this mindset. It is by addressing such factors that the prevention aspect can also be achieved.