Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Crime in Canada and the United States is Measured

The Congressional Research Service in the United States has a new report out on How Crime in the United States Is Measured:
"Crime data collected through the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) are used by Congress to inform policy decisions and allocate federal criminal justice funding to states. As such, it is important to understand how each program collects and reports crime data, and the limitations associated with the data."

"This report reviews (1) the history of the UCR, the NIBRS, and the NCVS; (2) the methods each program uses to collect crime data; and (3) the limitations of the data collected by each program (...)"

"The UCR represents the first effort to create a national, standardized measure of the incidence of crime. It was conceived as a way to measure the effectiveness of local law enforcement and to provide law enforcement with data that could be used to help fight crime. UCR data are now used extensively by researchers, government officials, and the media for research, policy, and planning purposes. The UCR also provides some of the most commonly cited crime statistics in the United States (...)"

"The NIBRS was developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to respond to the law enforcement community’s belief that the UCR needed to be updated to provide more in-depth data to meet the needs of law enforcement into the 21st century. The NIBRS collects data, including data on offense(s), offender(s), victim(s), arrestee(s), and any property involved in an offense... Despite the more detailed crime data that the NIBRS can provide, nationwide implementation of the program has been slow, for a variety of reasons, including cost considerations."

"The NCVS is the primary source of information on the characteristics of criminal victimization, and on the number and types of crime not reported to law enforcement. The NCVS has four major objectives: (1) to develop detailed information about the victims and consequences of crime, (2) to estimate the number and types of crimes not reported to police, (3) to provide uniform measures of selected types of crimes, and (4) to permit comparisons over time and population type (e.g., urban, suburban, and rural). The NCVS asks respondents whether they have been the victim of rape and sexual assault, robbery, simple and aggravated assault, purse snatching/pickpocketing, burglary, theft, or motor vehicle theft. In addition to collecting data on the number of victimizations, the NCVS gathers data
on the details of each incident of victimization."
For the sake of comparison, in Canada, crime statistics are measured using the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics:
"The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), in co-operation with the policing community, collects police-reported crime statistics through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR). The UCR Survey was designed to measure the incidence of crime in Canadian society and its characteristics."

"UCR data reflect reported crime that has been substantiated by police. Information collected by the survey includes the number of criminal incidents, the clearance status of those incidents and persons-charged information. The UCR Survey produces a continuous historical record of crime and traffic statistics reported by every police agency in Canada since 1962. In 1988, a new version of the survey was created, UCR2, and is since referred to as the 'incident-based' survey, in which microdata on characteristics of incidents, victims and accused are captured."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:24 pm


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