Refusal to register a complaint, which seems to be the key to the drastic dip in crime during December, is also referred to as "Burk the offence" in police parlance

During December when the Bangalore City Police observes Crime Prevention Month, police officials show figures showing a decline in the crime graph. But, does it mean that police is preventing crime?

As part of Crime Prevention Month, the police create awareness among citizens about their safety, keep a tab on the modus operandi of habitual offenders and clear the pending cases of the year. But, police personnel, who take the month seriously, admit that there is also a reluctance to register complaints during that period, unless it is of very serious nature.

Refusal to register a complaint, which seems to be the key to the drastic dip in crime during December, is also referred to as “Burk the offence” in police parlance.

Mobile theft

Take the case of two trainee engineers from Toyota Kirloskar, Bangalore, whose mobile phones were stolen from their house on December 13. Satish and Prashanth had purchased the mobiles from their first salary and were emotionally attached to the gadgets. They immediately rushed to the police station, hoping go get back their phones, which can now be easily be tracked through the IMEI number.

But, to their dismay, the police refused to register their complaint. They were asked file an affidavit about the theft if a complaint was to be registered. “To get an affidavit, we needed to apply leave for a day as well as spend at least Rs. 500 each”, Satish told The Hindu.

Though police personnel in neighbouring Kengeri Police station claimed there is no such rule that requires the complainant to obtain an affidavit, they admitted that such excuses are cited to deter victims from lodging complaints during December. “This is known as burking the offence in police parlance,” an official told The Hindu.

Station House Officers (SHO) confess that the senior officials use abusive language when a particular police station registers more cases during the month. “Senior officers shout at us for registering a complaint. We cannot prevent crime with the minimal workforce we have. So, the best way is to burk them”, says a police officer in the city.

Diluting complaint

Even if a complaint has to be booked, the police will do its best to lessen the gravity of the offence, a police officer explained.

For example, a chain snatching incident has to be treated as robbery under Section 392 of IPC, which is heinous and should be brought to the notice of seniors. But, the police convince the complainant to book a case for theft under Section 379, which is not considered serious enough to be brought to the notice of the senior officials.

Theft cases

The police officials though try to detect the crime and return the valuables, they would book the offender under theft case which helps him to get the bail easily against a case booked for robbery. In many cases, the police would convince the complainant to accept the valuables recovered in other cases so that they need not file a case, a police officer said.

This, the police officer added, had also been misused by people on many occasions. “They give an exaggerated value of the lost valuables, anticipating that they would get more than what they have lost”.

However Additional Commissioner of Police T. Suneel Kumar said that the station-level officers are lazy and invent different methods to avoid work. The crime prevention month is aimed to boosting the morale of the police for better policing. But, failing to register a complaint would be seriously dealt with, he said.

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