India, NCRB, Prison, Stories

In 2017, most Prisoners escaped from Gujarat while most Jailbreaks took place in West Bengal


The Prison Statistics report of the NCRB provides data on various facets of the prison system in India. As per the 2017 report, 378 prisoners escaped from custody. 95 of them escaped in Gujarat while 48 in Uttar Pradesh. On the other hand, 10 of the 15 jail breaks reported in 2017 took place in West Bengal.


Most of us watch jailbreak scenes in movies in awe where the hero or villain tricks the guards and escapes. Have you imagined that jail breaks do happen in real life? Ever thought how it is that the inmates escape in spite of the tight security and round the clock surveillance?

Annually, a few hundred offenders manage to escape Indian jails. However, some of them are caught and arrested again. In the Prison Statistics of India, the annual report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), data on jail breaks and escapes is provided every year since 2004. This story takes a closer look at the numbers presented in the Prison Statistics report of 2017.

What is the difference between Police custody and Judicial custody?

Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lists the provisions for holding a person in custody. Both police and judicial custody have the objective of keeping the suspect/accused under the supervision of police in order to prevent them from committing further crimes or escaping or tampering with evidence while the investigation is under progress. However, in police custody, a police officer detains an offender or a suspect on his/her own call. A judicial custody is said to have taken place if the detention is as per the orders of the magistrate and the accused is usually lodged in jail.

378 prisoners escaped from lawful custody in 2017

Number of prisoners who escaped while under judicial custody and police custody have been recorded separately in the report. In 2017 alone, a total of 378 prisoners have escaped. Of this, 163 have escaped from police custody and remaining from judicial custody.

Uttar Pradesh accounted for 24% (39) of the prisoners who escaped from police custody. Punjab reported 10% (17) of escapees from police custody while Andhra Pradesh reported 9% (15) of the total. Apart from these states, in terms of numbers, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have reported more than 10 escapees from police custody alone in 2017.

Gujarat alone accounted for 62% of the escapees who escaped from outside the prison premises

In the year 2017, 215 prisoners escaped from judicial custody. 70 of them escaped from inside the prison premises while the remaining 145 escaped from outside the prison. A total of 9 each from Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan had escaped from inside the prison premises.

Gujarat alone accounted for 90 escapees out of the total 145 reported to have escaped from outside the prison premises in 2017. This amounts to 62% of total escapees from outside the prison. 11 escapees were reported from West Bengal under this category.

Maximum number of escapees were reported from Gujarat followed by Uttar Pradesh

In terms of state-wise numbers, 95 prisoners in Gujarat were reported to have escaped, the highest for any state.  Uttar Pradesh (48) with half the number of escapees compared to Gujarat came in second in this aspect. These two states alone accounted for 38% of the total escapees reported in India in 2017.

44% of the escapees were re-arrested in India in 2017

Only 168 of the escapees out of the total 378 have been re-arrested in 2017. The maximum number of re-arrest of escapees has been reported in Gujarat. If we look at the rate of re-arrest in India, only 44% of the escapees have been arrested again.  Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have re-arrested 92% each. (By rate, we refer to the percentage of escapees arrested in a state divided by the total number of escapees in the state)

Number of inmates escaping prisons in declining

If we look at the trend in the number of escapees since 2004, it is evident that the number is falling gradually. However, the number was exceptionally high in 2007 and then 2016. The number of re-arrests has not seen any significant difference. The highest rate of re-arrest recorded so far is in 2017.

Inmate-Staff ratio is very high in Uttar Pradesh

The number of inmates each correctional staff attend is high in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. While in Uttar Pradesh each correctional staff has to attend to 48,191 inmates, in Gujarat each staff has attend to 13,011 inmates. In the remaining states, the numbers are much smaller.

Uttar Pradesh also has a high inmate- staff ratio. There are 14 inmates per prison staff in Uttar Pradesh which is twice the national average of seven (7) inmates per prison staff.  The maximum number of inmates in India are in the prisons of Uttar Pradesh.

Two thirds of the total jail breaks in 2017 were reported in West Bengal

Resorting to forcible means to escape prisons which result in injury, are the category of crimes recorded under the head of jail breaks. A total of 15 jail breaks were recorded in 2017, 10 of which were reported in West Bengal. One incident of jail break was reported from each of the states- Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

One death due to clashes was reported in Goa

Out of the total 88 incidents of clashes reported in jails in 2017, 35 were from Bihar and 19 from Delhi. 11 such incidents were reported from Punjab as well. These clashes have even resulted in a death of an inmate in Goa, the only death reported across the country in such clashes. Apart from this, 181 inmates and 23 jail personnel have been injured in these clashes. 81 cases of injury were reported in Delhi followed by Bihar with 37 cases. Goa reported 23 cases. These three states together have reported 69% of the total injury cases.  


About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.