Criminal Justice and The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program gets data on crime in the United States. It’s published by the FBI. UCR is ‘a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of nearly 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention’. The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is an incident-based system that reports crimes and keeps the data. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is a survey for 49,000 to 77,400 households twice a year in the U.S. on the frequency of crime victimization. The survey’s main intent is to gather information on the following crimes: assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, rape, and robbery. With this background information in mind, there are definitely similarities but also differences in the way they go about their business.

In terms of how they are different, the way they categorize and get their information vary. One difference between the UCR and NCVS is that NCVS is more likely to have inaccurate data because of how they categorize the data. The UCR divides crimes into two categories. One gathers data on ‘violent and property crimes’. The other half reports on crimes such as theft, arson, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. The types of violent crimes that the surveys include are assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, rape, domestic violence, and robbery.

Unlike the UCR and NCVS, NIBRS has twenty-two defining categories. They include: arson, assault offenses, bribery, burglary/breaking and entering, counterfeiting/forgery, vandalism, drug/narcotic offenses, embezzlement, extortion/blackmail, fraud offences, gambling offenses, homicide offenses, kidnapping/abduction, larceny/theft offenses, motor vehicle theft, pornography/obscene material, prostitution offenses, robbery, sex offenses (forcible and non forcible), stolen property offenses, and weapon law violations. In terms of how each organization gets their info, it comes down to who is reporting it. Since the UCR is uses data reported by law enforcement agencies, it is the most accurate. In contrast to the UCR, the NCVS chooses homes at random to talk about violent crimes.

The NCVS is a crime report led by the Bureau of Justice Statistics through surveys under the United States Census Bureau (USCB). However, critics of the NCVS argue that the ‘data is unreliable, especially when it comes to domestic violence, because only the entire selected household is interviewed rather than interviewing individual people.’ Individuals are more likely to be truthful about domestic violence than heads of the household. This is due to the fact that heads of a household hold a larger influence over the rest of the individuals in it. On the other hand, NIBRS is a system rather than volunteers or agencies who get these numbers.

Next, the similarities are more obvious than the differences. To start, all of the organizations follow the hierarchy rule which states that only the highest offenses is counter and all the lower crimes are ignored. Also, all of them experience the ‘dark figure of crime’ which is the number of crimes that are not reported or undiscovered.