The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the measures taken to stem the spread of the infection have impacted the crime rate in the city, with 1,100 FIRs registered in March as compared 3,368 FIRs registered during the same period last year. Even police are now taking a different approach with regard to detection of crime. The Mumbai Police is avoiding making arrests unless it is a case related to COVID-19, such as illegal stocking of hand sanitisers or face masks.
A senior officer said, “The number of FIRs registered in March has come down by a third as compared to the last year. If you see, a majority of offences such as theft — 483 cases last year — have not taken place as much this year as you need the advantage of a crowd to commit the crime. As of now, everyone is at home so there is hardly any crowd outside.”
The officer added that other offences such as house break-ins were also negligible as everyone was home. “A majority of the offences registered are street crimes such as brawls between groups. These offences too have gone down as there is hardly anyone on the streets,” said an inspector from the western suburbs.
The officer also said in many cases such as cyber crime, people might not be coming to report to police stations unless the amount of money involved was huge. “At present, our priority is to ensure lockdown and, hence, in some cases even when we have received applications, we have not had the time to register FIRs. That could also be one of the reasons for the drop in number of FIRs registered,” the officer said.
Of the 1,100 FIRs registered in March, the officer said a majority of them were under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, and against those who were not following lockdown guidelines. An officer from Mulund police station said, “Just yesterday we registered three FIRs under Section 188 against people who were roaming the streets without any plausible reason. In most cases, we warn a person to not step out again. But if we spot the person roaming without any reason again, we register an FIR against them.” The officer also said a majority of the offences across other police stations were related to this.
A senior officer said, “Another change is that we are avoiding making arrests at present, unless absolutely necessary. We are also not opposing any bail applications unless it is a serious matter.”
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