Reporting Crime Data in the NIBRS Program

The NIBRS or National Incident Based-Reporting System was implemented in the late 1980s to capture more accurate data about crime on a national level. Joining this program and meeting requirements are easier than ever before, thanks to tools like ARMS software and the NIBRS review module. Here is what you need to know about this program, why NIBRS reporting matters, and how you can comply with the requirements of this program.

A brief history of the NIBRS

The FBI first started compiling data about crimes at the national level with the Uniform Crime Reports dating back to 1929. In 1982, the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics looked into ways to make this program more effective as law enforcement changed and became more modern. This resulted in the creation of the NIBRS in 1988. The new crime data reporting program was designed to capture contextual details that are crucial in understanding and preventing crime, such as the time and location of a crime, or the relationship between the victim and perpetrator. In 2017, the FBI released data linked to more than 6 million crimes, thanks to the almost 7,000 agencies participating in the program. The current goal of the FBI is to completely replace the UCR program with the NIBRS by 2021 to deliver crime statistics that are more detailed and more accurate to help law enforcement agencies use resources more effectively.

Program standards of the UCR

Data for the UCR program is collected at a state level for 49 states. Federal agencies, tribal law enforcement bodies, and other agencies can also report to a UCR program. The UCR programs that consolidate the data at the state level transmit the data to the FBI in monthly reports. There are a few standards UCR programs have to meet:

  • Ensuring the data is accurate. Law enforcement personnel has to follow specific reporting procedures, and there are best practices in place to ensure the quality and integrity of the data submitted.
  • UCR programs have to follow submission standards regarding deadlines, formatting, file formats, and more.
  • Each UCR program is required to collect and submit data for all the agencies that belong to their domain, typically their state.
  • An agency can launch a new UCR program if they are ready to collect data for more than 50 percent of law enforcement agencies within their domain. This represents a significant commitment of resources since a program will typically end up handling UCR reporting for all the participating agencies in their state.

Data for the NIBRS program can be submitted via the existing infrastructure and workflows of the UCR program. Taking part in the NIBRS program means an agency will have to submit reports with more data fields and might have to adjust workflows to account for different formatting and more detailed incident reports. It is possible to submit a single file for the UCR and NIBRS program.

NIBRS/UCR/CLERY reporting with ARMS

ARMS can help you improve the FBI’s crime statistic program by offering a flexible solution with all the tools needed to integrate NIBRS reporting into your workflows. Capturing the additional levels of data becomes effortless thanks to the ARMS mobile module designed to help officers enter data in the field with minimal interruption. ARMS is designed to help you meet the requirements of the UCR, NIBRS, and CLERY program for college and university campuses. Officers have the possibility to enter additional data that isn’t required by these programs, for instance, if more details are needed for prosecution purposes. Your records department can then review the data entered via ARMS and make sure it meets the accuracy and quality standards set by the NIBRS program. Cases can be audited before being submitted to the FBI. ARMS offers a flexible, comprehensive, and modern reporting solution designed to help you comply with the requirements of the NIBRS program while simplifying your workflows. Get in touch with us if you want to find out more about joining the NIBRS program or about how ARMS can help you become compliant before 2021.


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