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Crime Reporting: UCR and NCVS
The Uniform Crime Report is a compilation of offensives collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from all police stations in the United States. Data collected is divided into two groups, Part I and Part II. Part I data includes violent and property crimes such as aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, robbery, arson, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Part II offenses include simple assault, curfew offenses and loitering, embezzlement, forgery and counterfeiting, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, drug offenses, fraud, gambling, liquor offenses, offenses against the family, prostitution, public drunkenness, runaways, sex offenses, stolen property, vandalism, vagrancy, and weapons offenses (“Uniform Crime Reports.,” 2012).
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is conducted by telephone and collects information on nonfatal crimes reported and not reported to the police against persons age twelve and older from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. Since this survey is based on interviews it does not measure homicide. The report measures national rates and levels of violent and property victimization and includes data on rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, household burglary, motor vehicle theft, theft, and personal larceny such as pick pocketing and purse snatching (Truman & Planty, 2012).
According to the most recent UCR the estimated number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement decreased for the fifth year in arrow while the estimated number of property crimes reported decreased for the ninth consecutive year. However, the NCVS reports that between 2010 and 2011 the number of violent victimizations increased 18%, from 4.9 million to 5.8 million. Moreover, during the same period the number of property victimizations increased from by 11% from 15.4 million to 17.1 million (“Uniform Crime Reports,” 2012).
Specifically, the UCR reported murder was down 1.9%, Robbery was down 4%, motor vehicle theft was down 3.3%, forcible rape was down 4%, aggravated assault was down 4%, larceny/theft was down0.9% and arson was down 5%. The only category not to decrease was burglary which increased 0.3% (“Crime Rates are Down, 2012”). In many categories these numbers differ significantly from the NCVS report. The NCVS found forcible rape to be down 9.2%, robbery to be down 2.1%, aggravated assault to be up 22.7%, burglary to be up 13.8% and motor vehicle theft to be up 3.5% (Truman & Planty, 2012).
These differences are the result of a number of factors. Each program collects data from different sources and each program uses different terminology for labeling crimes. According to Schmalleger (2009) these definitional and procedural differences can account for many of these discrepancies. The UCR and NCVS numbers cannot be correlated using the same standards applied to both programs since both programs have different methods for gathering data, and estimating crime percentages and each program provides different information about crime.
Both methodologies used to measure crime have weaknesses as well as strengths and similarities as well as differences. Because each program gathers information through different methods of research, different results are documented and cannot be substantially used to compare both programs effectively. I believe the NCVS is not meant to replace the UCR or visa versa. I think all this data is intended to serve as an additional means to gather information about criminal activity. Used in conjunction with each other these reports provide a powerful instrument for determining the prevalence and types of criminal activity.
“Crime rates are down.” (2012, June 11). Crime in the United States 2011. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2012/june/crimes_061112/crimes_061112
Schmalleger, F. (2009). Criminolology today: An integrative introduction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Truman, J.L. & Planty, M. (2012, October). Criminal victimization, 2011. U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv11.pdf
“Uniform crime reports.” (2012, October). Crime in the United States 2011. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/index-page
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