The FBI has been compiling crime data at a national level since the 1930s, thanks to its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. A new program called the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) was introduced in the late 1980s in an effort to take crime statistics into the computer age and eventually replace the UCR.
Law enforcement agencies either use the UCR or the NIBRS program because using both systems would result in duplicate data in the FBI’s record. If you are currently participating in the UCR program, you should think about switching to the NIBRS program. The FBI has been encouraging agencies to make this switch since the NIBRS program uses reporting standards that result in more crimes being recorded and in more details being shared with the FBI.
Have you ever wondered what the FBI does with the data you submit via the UCR program? The 2015 crime statistics are currently available on the FBI website. If you select your state on this list, you will see crime statistics for your university and notice that there is data available for only 11 types of crimes, which doesn’t give an accurate view of on-campus incidents.
The UCR program has always been playing catch-up with modern data management systems. It relied on paper-based reports until 2013 and uses a hierarchy rule that creates a blind spot for crimes that aren’t serious enough, crimes that don’t result in an arrest, and for offenses committed simultaneously since only the most serious one would be recorded.
The NIBRS program records a much broader range of crimes and includes more details:
- If crimes happen simultaneously, such as robbery accompanied by sexual assault, both offenses would be recorded.
- Data is collected for almost 50 different types of crimes, whether or not an arrest has been made.
- NIBRS reports include 57 different data fields organized in six categories.
- There is a system of codes used to categorize offenses. These codes allow you to indicate that an incident was tied to gang-related activities or that an assault was motivated by a bias, just to cite a few examples.
- An NIBRS report includes more details about the victim. These reports require you to indicate if a crime was committed against a person, property or society. In the case of a crime committed against a person, you would be able to record demographics and indicate the type of location where the crime occurred. This really makes a difference when it comes to determining which groups are at risk and what kind of areas would be unsafe.
- NIBRS reports also include information regarding the relationship between the victim and the offender.
- This new system gives more visibility into drug-related crimes. The UCR system recorded only sale and possession crimes when an arrest was made. With the NIBRS system, drug-related offenses such as sale, possession, transport, manufacturing, distribution, cultivation and possession of drug equipment are reported regardless of whether or not an arrest is made.
Switching to the NIBRS program will result in a few changes to your workflow but won’t really impact your workload.
For the agency’s Records Supervisors, they will begin to complete the NIBRS Review Wizard for their case reports that include NIBRS-reportable offenses. The purpose of the NIBRS Review wizard is to step through that particular case report’s NIBRS reportable data elements to ensure the data entry does not conflict with any data validation performed by the state / FBI after the data is submitted to them. A good practice for Records Supervisors is to establish a day of the week to perform NIBRS Reviews, on a Friday for example. Once monthly, the Records Supervisor will also establish a day to use the NIBRS Data Extract, which is a feature that creates an electronic file for a specified month of data, and the Records Supervisor will login to the state / FBI website and upload the file.
Participating in the NIBRS program will require only a few adjustments and will make a difference when it comes to creating an accurate and detailed view of crime at a federal level. Get in touch with the ARMS sales team to find out more about NIBRS licensing.