Safe Cities

Anwesha Mallick
10 min readJun 27, 2021
Photo: Reproduced from RisMedia

The safety of life in cities can be regarded as one of the main driving forces for ensuring sustainable development of the growth engines in the future. The importance of safety is also emphasized by the SDG goals, especially by goals number 11 and 16. However, measuring the vulnerability of the lives in cities can often turn out to be a challenging affair as safety is a multifaced concept. According to the Safe Cities Index, safety can be broadly divided into four broad categories, namely, personal, health, infrastructure, and digital safety (Economist, 2019).

Figure 1: Different pillars of Safety

Source: The Economist,2019

Apart from the law and order, other factors largely influence the safety of a city. Unemployment is often regarded to have a high negative correlation with safety. Increasing jobs in the inner-city areas shall reduce willingness to commit a crime due to the dirt of money. One unit increase in unemployment is expected to have a larger increase in crimes (Lin, 2008). A higher rate of employment also ensures higher GDP. Having a high GDP can also ensure safety as it would mean higher investment in infrastructural and health safety of the citizens. Lastly, the literacy rate is also considered an important aspect to ensure safety. Despite, the literary rate being a highly debatable factor of safety, it is often argued that high rates of literacy can lead to a low rate of crime establishing a negative co-relation (Joseph & Mathew, 2019).

India has a total number of 460960 recognizable crimes as of 2019, which is a fifty-eight thousand increase concerning 2018. Delhi has recorded the highest number of crimes, followed by Chennai and Mumbai. On contrary, Kozhikode, Kanpur, and Ghaziabad have the lowest recorded crimes as per the 2019 data of the National Crime Bureau. Thus, the present paper tries to study the safety of Indian cities in a more disintegrated manner, primarily focusing on personal and digital crime rates. The data used in the study is extracted from the National Crime Bureau 2019 Statistics. Certain crime-specific case studies have also been used in the study.

Crime Against Women

Goal number 5 of SDG talks about attaining gender equality in society by 2030. However, in India with a crime rate of 84.1 % per lakh population, that makes the goal appears way ambitious. The safety of women can ensure better participation of women in society. However, the growth rate of crime against women has been on a constant rise over the years as shown in figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Crime Against Women (2017–2019)

Source: NCRB Report, 2020

It can be seen from the above figure that not there is an increase in the total number of crimes against women but also has increased at a tremendous rate. The NCRB 2019 report shows a there is a total of 45485 crimes registered against women. Out of which 31.3 % crimes is cruelty by husband or his relatives,20.4% from the assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty 19.7% is kidnapping & abduction of women, 13.3% from sexual offensives against girl child and 7.3% rape cases. Table 1 shown below gives an idea about the crimes against women across the metropolitan cities.

Table 1: Ranking of Cities for Crime against Women

Source: NCRB Report, 2020

From table 1 it can be said that Delhi is the most unsafe city for women followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru. However, the rate of crime is highest in the case of Jaipur at 235 crimes against women per lakh population with Lucknow being the second with 175.4 per lakh population followed by Delhi with 170.3 crimes per lakh population. On the contrary Coimbatore, Kozhikode and Kochi are comparatively safer for women. In the northern part of India Kolkata is the safest city for women as per the NCRB 2019 data.

Photo: Reproduced from duexpress

However, one such initiative which is taken by the government is the Safe City Project. Initially, eight cities have been selected, namely Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai for the “Safe City Project” under the Nirbhaya Fund. The project aims at ensuring the safety and security of women in large metro cities. The funds under the project shall be used for providing facilities like well-lit-up roads and public spaces, proper sanitation facilities, safety in public transports, CCTV and other technological facilities in public spaces, and provision of counseling facilities for victims of crime. Nevertheless, a large part of this fund is unutilized in a majority of the cities.

Source: (Nayar-Gall, 2018)

Crime Against Children

Goal number 16.2 of SGD emphasizes the protection of children from all forms of violence. Further goals 5.3 and 8.7 also emphasize reducing exploitation against children such as child marriage, child labor, etc. Children are the future generations of any country. Hence, it is very important to ensure that the safety and security of children. However, children are the most vulnerable groups to crime. As a result of their innocence and lack of ability to speak or stand up for themselves, children are very often subjected to different forms of exploitation. The number of crimes recorded against children is 21425 which is an increase of 914 cases as compared to the data of 2018. However, the rate of growth has reduced in 2019 as compared to that of 2018. Around 59.43 % of the total number of crimes are purposed to kidnapping and abduction, 29 % are subjected to sexual harassment and 4 % are subjected to crime in juvenile justice. In big metropolitan cities, children are often found on the signals of either begging or selling products. However, the problem is much beyond begging. It is estimated that 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten, and made to beg every day. It’s a multimillion-dollar industry that’s controlled by human trafficking cartels (COOK, 2019). According to census 2011, child begging is most common in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal (COOK, 2019). Children are often disabled as it expected to gain more sympathy from people and earn more money.

Photo: Reproduced from The Sentinel

City-wise crimes against children have been shown clearly in Table 2.

Table 2: Ranking of Cities for Crime against Children

Source: NCRB Report, 2020

According to the NCRB data, Delhi is the most unsafe city for children accounting for about 35 % of the total crimes against children. It is followed by Mumbai with 16 % and Bengaluru with 6.9 % of total crime against children. On the contrary Coimbatore, Kochi and Kozhikode have the lowest number of recorded crimes against children. The most interesting facts shown in table 3 is despite Uttar Pradesh being on the hubs of child labor in India, the cities under the state have secured a position closer to the safer cities

Source: (LEBSACK, 2019)

Crime Against Old Aged People

According to the United Nations Framework for creating age-friendly cities, one of the most important aspects is to build cities where old aged people can live without having safety issues. However, the crimes against old aged people have been increasing over the years with an increasing rate as shown in figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Crime against Old-Aged People (2017–2019)

Source: NCRB Report, 2020

With reference to the NCRB data, the total number of crimes committed against old people is 4897. Out of which 30 % cases are of theft and 22.5% cases are of Forgery, Cheating, and Fraud. Mumbai is recorded to have the highest number of crimes against old-aged people with Delhi being second on the list. Mumbai alone accounts for 25 % of the total crimes against old-aged people with 44.36 % of frauds and around 19% of the thefts. However, Delhi has the highest number of thefts against old-age people accounting for 38 % of the total thefts. The ranking of the metropolitan cities in terms of the 2019 NCRB data has been shown in table 3 below.

Table 3: Ranking of Cities for Crime against Old Aged People

Source: NCRB Report, 2020

According to table 3 Ghaziabad, Kanpur, and Patna are the safest cities for old-aged people with no crimes against old people. Despite, the ambiguity about the aforesaid claim the question arises whether cities have achieved such low numbers building an age-friendly city or the crimes are simply not reported.

Cyber Crime

India is the second-largest internet-using population in the world (Keelery, 2021) and one of the countries with the cheapest internet packages, has not only catered to rapid digitalization but also has introduced society with new vulnerabilities. Cybercrimes have been increasing at a very fast pace over recent years. The NCRB data clearly shows that for most of the cities the total number of cyber-crimes has increased in the year 2019. It could also be inferred that there are exits a stark discrepancy in terms of digital safety among the cities, with Bangalore having the highest number of crimes. Delhi, Kolkata, and Kozhikode are the only cities that have experienced a fall in the total number of crimes in three years.

Source: Reproduced from Travel & Trade

Table 4 shown below gives a better idea about the ranking of the city in terms of cybercrimes. It is arranged in an ascending order moving from the city with the least number of cyber-crimes to the city with the highest number of cyber-crimes. Color coding is used to emphasize the same.

Table 4: Ranking of Cities for Cyber Crimes

Source: NCRB Report, 2020

From table 4 it can be seen that Bangalore has lived up to its name of Silicon Valley, by having the highest number of cyber-crimes. Further, Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu can be considered the safest city in terms of cyber-crimes. According to the 2019 report of the National Crime Bureau, India has recorded a total of 18372 cybercrimes in 2019. Out of which around 80 % of the cyber-crimes are motivated by frauds. These frauds usually take place in small call centers in cities making scam call not only across India but in foreign countries. The scammers pretend to call technical experts from big companies and eventually fraud people. Several local and foreign newspapers have often highlighted the case of such call centers. One of the most famous names in committing frauds has been Jamtara, a small district in Jharkhand.

Source: (Srivastava, 2016) (Singh, 2017)

Thus, it can be concluded that India has a long way to travel to have safe cities, considering the increasing number of crimes across the different states. However, as quoted by Nelson Mandela, “Safety and Security don’t just happen, they are a result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens of our society, a life free of violence and fear.” Hence it can be said that safety is an eventual process, which can be attained only by a joint effort of government and citizens. Citizens have to stand up for a crime. The mute Spectator syndrome has to be foregone. Lastly, it is also important for the government to make sure that the reports and complaints are filed and help is rendered to all victims. This shall make the cities a safer place to live in.


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Anwesha Mallick

Post Graduate in Economics, Specialization in Urban Development Studies.