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It Is Against The Law Not To Report A Crime

Prosecute failure to report rape

Pretoria - Anyone who does not immediately report cases of rape, abuse or molestation to the police should be prosecuted, anti-violence lobby groups said on Thursday.

Requiring the reporting of school crime

Reliable statistical information is necessary for a clear picture of the safety of America’s schools. Therefore, safeguards to ensure compliance with provisions requiring the reporting of school crime must be in place.

When You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect: A General Guide

Anyone "having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect" MUST report the case immediately to a state or local law enforcement agency or the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS).

The ‘hue and cry’ system worked because there was also a system of community fines

So if a member of a tything committed a crime, others had to catch the offender and bring him (or her) to court. Failure to do so resulted in a collective fine. And there was a responsibility of “hue and cry” if anyone actually witnessed a crime being committed. The “hue” part meant things like sounding horns. The “cry” part was verbal shouts. When a hue and cry was raised, everyone between the ages of 12 and 60 had to join in the chase to catch the criminal. The Normans (1066 to 1485 AD) retained this idea and the statute of Winchester was England’s first Police Act. Other than hue and cry, inhabitants of a region were also responsible for crimes committed within that region.


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'Prosecute failure to report rape'
12/06/2003 13:08  - (SA) 

Pretoria - Anyone who does not immediately report cases of rape, abuse or molestation to the police should be prosecuted, anti-violence lobby groups said on Thursday.

"Although government spokespeople and police have said it is against the law not to report a crime, there is in fact no statutory law that allows prosecution when this does not occur," the Rape Action Group and Media Against Violence said.

Such legislation was urgently needed, they said.

The two groups also demanded that all religious bodies make clear public commitments to report all such incidents in which any of its religious leaders or employees were implicated.

"Although we recognise the right of adult survivors of rape to choose whether or not to press charges, no such choice exists in the instance of a child under the age of 18.

"Moreover, the Constitution makes it clear that the rights of the child are paramount. These rights cannot be overridden by arbitrary decisions of religious leaders."

All religious communities should state what they would do if they were informed of sexual or domestic violence perpetrated from someone not in their employ. This included outlining the assistance they would give to those affected, and training to be provided for the religious leadership.

The Rape Action Group welcomed the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference's (SACBC's) public commitment - following reports about its handling of rape and sexual abuse cases - to report such matters to the authorities and to compile a data base of incidents in its ranks.

But it said it was concerned by the SACBC's insistence on conducting its own investigations and internal inquiries before or during court action.

"Such internal processes taint the legal investigations, interfere with the processes of justice and tend to defeat the ends of justice...

"We call on parliament to ensure that the new legislation on rape, child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual abuse ensures that it is a criminal offence for such internal processes to be conducted preceding or concurrent with a court case."


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Reliable statistical information is necessary for a clear picture of the safety of America’s schools. Therefore, safeguards to ensure compliance with provisions requiring the reporting of school crime must be in place.

Improvements to Statistical Reporting

A statewide standardized reporting system that provides accurate and consistently collected data on school crime from all school districts is critical. Without clear standards, schools may use different criteria to determine which crimes are reported, which can result in under- or overreporting of certain crimes. Developing a consistent strategy that ensures collection of meaningful school crime and violence data is, however, a difficult and complex undertaking.

A panel of education security experts who recently reviewed one Maryland county public school system concluded that the current reporting system was so deficient that school officials had no way of knowing the severity of crime in their schools. A 1997 report by high school principals had previously warned senior state administrators that only good luck had prevented a fatality from occurring. Many of the school system’s reporting inadequacies resulted from the lack of a standardized reporting form and the fact that school administrators were given too much discretion in deciding which incidents to report.

Other states also have experienced problems because of poor reporting policies. California encountered similar complications in its first year of reporting. An elementary school district with an enrollment of 20,000 reported the occurrence of 2,336 assaults, whereas the state’s largest district of some 600,000 students reported only 1,345 assaults.52 The discrepancy was a direct result of inconsistent reporting. Since then, California’s school crime reporting laws and policies have been amended to incorporate some necessary improvements.53 Each year, the State Department of Education is required to “publish and distribute to all school districts and county offices of education [a] school crime reporting update that describes typical errors in school crime reporting procedures, describes effective and efficient methods of monitoring and recording school crime data, and identifies trends in school crime.”54

According to the Annual Report on School Safety: 1998, Delaware, Florida, and South Carolina have demonstrated the highest quality efforts in collecting school crime statistical data.55 The report highlights five common factors of these three systems:

  1. A comprehensive list of incidents (carefully consider the categories of crime included).

     
  2. Clear definitions of incidents (clearly define the crime categories included).

     
  3. Data used by multiple levels of the education system (state, district, and school).

     
  4. Accurate tracking of data (create a standardized approach to school crime reporting, and establish a system to monitor the reporting process).

     
  5. Staff training on data entry and use (fund the crime reporting at a level that ensures adequate staff and resources).56

Many of these elements are included in Recommendations of the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Reporting Task Force. 57 The National Center for Education Statistics established the task force to evaluate reporting procedures currently in use by schools across the country and make recommendations for improvements. These recommendations are a tool for incorporating standardized reporting procedures in all states, enabling the development of a national perspective on school crime and violence that truly reflects the current safety of our schools.

School Crime Hotlines

School crime reporting can occur effectively only if the school administrators and faculty required to make the reports are aware of crimes that are committed. Many incidents are known only to students who are victims of, or witnesses to, violent or criminal activity. Fear of retaliation and peer pressure may prevent students from notifying school personnel when an offense occurs.

At least three states have laws establishing school crime reporting hotlines that allow students anonymity when reporting violent and criminal incidents.58 Virginia’s school crime line is

a confidential, anonymous system providing inducements for students to report any unlawful act occurring in school buildings or on school grounds or during school-sponsored activities to local law enforcement authorities.59

Recently, a North Carolina task force conducting a 3-month study of school safety called for establishment of a statewide hotline to allow anonymous student reports of violence or threats.60 One hotline was set up in a high school in San Francisco. The vice principal of that school reports that the hotline enables students to report violence, crimes, and other problems from a place where they feel safe and free from possible retaliation. Calls to the hotline also have been made by parents who overheard their children talking about an incident and by individuals living near the school who witnessed suspicious behavior. Within its first month of use, the number of criminal incidents decreased. Because the cost of the hotline averages $20 a month, it is a relatively inexpensive security tool.61

Enforcement of Reporting Laws

Monitoring plays an important role in ensuring that procedures and policies for reporting school crime are followed. However, reporting compliance is monitored in relatively few states. Delaware, for example, has established the Office of School Criminal Offense Ombudsperson, whose function is to ensure proper administration of the state’s school criminal offense reporting law by investigating complaints regarding the failure of school officials to report school crime.62 In addition, the ombudsperson can improve reporting by providing technical assistance to school administrators.

School safety centers, like those established in Tennessee and Kentucky, promote accurate reporting by centralizing collection.63 Kentucky’s Center for School Safety serves as the central point for data analysis, and the center’s responsibilities include preparation of an annual report regarding the status of school safety in the state.64 Designating a single entity to collect and analyze school crime data as they are submitted enables quick identification of inconsistencies and problem areas.

Imposing noncompliance penalties on school officials responsible for reporting incidents of crime at their schools is another enforcement mechanism used in some states to improve the quality of the statistical information collected. To compel reporting compliance in South Carolina, failure to report criminal conduct or submit quarterly reports concerning school-related crime to the State Department of Education subjects both the school administrator and the school district to liability for attorneys’ fees and costs related to legal action.65 In Virginia, a principal who knowingly fails to submit a report of all criminal incidents is subject to sanctions imposed by the local school board, including demotion or dismissal.66

The methods developed in these states to encourage sound reporting practices serve as good examples for the states that have yet to incorporate compliance provisions into their reporting laws. To generate meaningful statistics concerning school crime, more states need to review their school crime reporting processes and develop oversight strategies that ensure procedural conformity.


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When You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect: A General Guide

 

Anyone "having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect" MUST report the case immediately to a state or local law enforcement agency or the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS).

TDPRS has a toll-free, 24-hour Family Violence Hotline: 1-800-252-5400

Your legal obligation

Current law requires that professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses, or child daycare workers must make a verbal report within 48 hours. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000 (Texas Family Code, Chapter 261).

Reporting suspected child abuse to your principal, school counselor or superintendent will NOT satisfy your obligation under this law. Local school district policy cannot conflict with or supercede the state law requiring you to report child abuse to a law enforcement agency or TDPRS.

Your legal Protection

Your report of child abuse or neglect is confidential and immune from civil or criminal liability as long as the report is made in "good faith" and "without malice."

Good Faith means that the person making the report took reasonable steps to learn facts that were readily available and at hand.

Without Malice means that the person did not intend to injure or violate the rights of another person.

Provided these two conditions are met, you will also be immune from liability if you are asked to participate in any judicial proceedings that might result from your report.

If You have reason to believe that a child is abused…

It is not up to you to determine whether your suspicions are true or not. A trained investigator will evaluate the child's situation.

Even if your report does not bring decisive action, it may help establish a pattern that will eventually be clear enough to help the child.

The following indications don't by themselves necessarily indicate abuse. You might talk to the child a little to see if there is a simple or innocent explanation for what you have observed.

Suspect Physical abuse When you see…

Suspect Neglect When you see…

Suspect sexual abuse When you see…

A disclosure

If you are the first person the child tells about sexual abuse, your testimony as "outcry witness" may be especially important in future legal proceedings.

What you say the child told you is not considered hearsay but is admissible evidence in a trial involving a sexual offense against a child. This exception applies only to the first person the child approaches.

You Are Legally Responsible for the safety of your own child

Sometimes abusers are close relatives, but the fact that the abuser is a parent or other family member does not remove your obligation to protect the child. If you permit your child to be in a situation where he or she may be injured, then you may be prosecuted for child abuse.

If you are frightened for your own safety or that of your child, call 911 or 1-800-252-5400. If you are uneasy about your own behavior toward your child, you can call the Parents Anonymous toll-free hotline at: 1-800-554-2323.

You are legally responsible for the care of your child. You must provide your child with safe and adequate food, clothing, shelter, protection, medical care and supervision, or else you must arrange for someone else to provide these things. Failure to do so may be considered neglect.

Crime Victims' Compensation
P.O. Box 12198
Austin, Texas 78711-2198
1-800-983-9933 (Statewide)
1-512-936-1264 (In Austin)
FAX-1-512-320-8270
www.oag.state.tx.us

An abused or neglected child and certain family members may qualify for assistance under the Crime Victims' Compensation Program.

 


Source

The Financial Express

TODAY'S COLUMNIST

The ‘hue and cry’ system worked because there was also a system of community fines

 

Community Policing In India

Bibek Debroy

  Why is there such a hue and cry over CAS (conditional access system)? I read words to that effect in a newspaper. A few days ago, I had to go to New Delhi railway station and saw a “hue and cry” notice there. There was a mug shot of an absconder and a request to the public to inform the police about the absconder’s whereabouts. The latter is the original meaning of hue and cry. The former is accepted usage now. But if we know the etymological origins of hue and cry, we will probably hesitate to use such an expression in the context of CAS.

I called up a lawyer I know. I wanted to know under what law these hue and cry notices are issued. Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code, he said. I looked up section 82 of the CrPC. This concerns proclamations about absconding people and says that proclamations should be displayed in conspicuous places and, if necessary, published in newspapers. Fair enough. Back to the lawyer friend. Why did the proclamation say “hue and cry” at the top? Understandably, lawyers are concerned with today’s law. They aren’t legal historians. So my friend was vague. Must be something to do with English law. Try section 37 of CrPC. Section 37 of CrPC says that the public must assist magistrates and police in preventing the escape of those who should be arrested. (There are some other sub-sections in section 37 also). Clearly, the 1973 version of CrPC doesn’t mention hue and cry. Unfortunately, I don’t possess a copy of the 1898 version of CrPC. However, so far as today’s Indian law is concerned, the expression ‘hue and cry’ should not be used. It is an anachronism.

So what is hue and cry? I tracked it down to the statute of Winchester (1285) or even earlier. During Anglo-Saxon (500 to 1066 AD) times, communities were divided into groups of 10 families. Each group was called a tything and was headed by a “tythingman”. Each member of a tything was responsible for the collective good behaviour of the others in the group.

So if a member of a tything committed a crime, others had to catch the offender and bring him (or her) to court. Failure to do so resulted in a collective fine. And there was a responsibility of “hue and cry” if anyone actually witnessed a crime being committed. The “hue” part meant things like sounding horns. The “cry” part was verbal shouts. When a hue and cry was raised, everyone between the ages of 12 and 60 had to join in the chase to catch the criminal. The Normans (1066 to 1485 AD) retained this idea and the statute of Winchester was England’s first Police Act. Other than hue and cry, inhabitants of a region were also responsible for crimes committed within that region.

As is common with all cross-country comparisons, there is a problem of data comparability when one compares prison populations across the world. For example, figures on prison population have to come from national prison administrations and pre-trial detainees, juveniles or other categories that may sometimes be held by other organisations. Subject to this caveat, more than eight million people throughout the world are in jail. Some are convicted. Others are under-trial. More than half are in the United States, Russia and China. Normalised per 100,000 population, the highest rate of 685 is in Russia, followed by the US with 645. India has a low rate of 25. The total jail population figures in India varies, depending on whether you ask the National Human Rights Commission or someone else. Hence, the range is from 250,000 to 350,000. What do we deduce from India’s low rate?

It is tempting to deduce that Indians are less prone to crime than Americans or Russians. But that’s not very plausible. It is much more likely that the probabilities of prosecution and conviction (when prosecuted) are extremely low. After all, the overall conviction rate is around 5 per cent. Since a large number (80 per cent) of those in jail are under-trials, two principles make India sui generis. First, most of those in jail should be outside jail. Second, most of those outside jail should be in jail. But given the shortage of prisons, we should be thankful for low conviction rates. A friend of mine lives in Oslo and thanks to him, I got to know that in Norway, you have to queue up to get into prison. There isn’t enough jail space. Remember that Norwegian prisons aren’t like Indian ones. For example, the Norwegian prison of Bastoey is on an island. Inmates live in wooden cottages and can fish or grow vegetables. There can’t be too many of these prisons. So unless it is a really serious crime, once you are convicted in Norway, you will have to wait for an average of 77 days to go to jail. If we jack up our conviction rates, Indian prisoners will probably have to wait five years to get into jail. Our system is better. We get them to serve jail sentences as under-trials, before the conviction.

Two-thirds of our backlog consists of criminal cases. So I wonder what happened to the report of the Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, the Malimath Committee. As far as I can understand, the report was submitted in March 2003. But is not yet in the public domain. However, media reports suggest the Malimath Committee (among other things) has suggested a system of community policing. That’s not a completely new idea. The Padmanabhaiah Committee Report on Police Reforms (2000) mentioned it and at least on the preventive aspects, some of this is already happening. It will be even more interesting if this community policing idea is also extended to arrests. We will then get back to the hue and cry scenario, with one difference. The hue and cry system worked because there was also a system of community fines. I wonder if that idea can be spliced into bhagidari. Evidently, the Malimath Committee has recommended crimes to be divided into serious (federal) ones and minor ones. While punishments for federal crimes must be prison sentences, for minor crimes, community service can also be a form of punishment. Forget federal crimes. But for minor ones, can we have community fines with the hue and cry?

 

 
URL: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=36367

 

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