Compare and contrast the UCR, the NIBRS, and the NCVS

Compareand contrast the UCR, the NIBRS, and the NCVS

Compareand contrast the UCR, the NIBRS, and the NCVS

UniformCrime Report (UCR) refers to the standard method that is used toreport crime. Its chief role is to collect data on eight varyingindex crimes and reports it on annually basis. National IncidentBased Crime Reporting System (NIBRS) is formulated for of UCR andplays a key role in collecting more detailed data on various crimesthan UCR (Lynch &amp Addington, 2006). National Crime VictimizationSurvey (NCVS), on the other hand, is not based on police reports,instead it relies on phone surveys by asking people whether they haveeither been victimized or reported the crime.

Similaritiesand differences

UCRbegan in 1929 and it focuses on collecting information on variouscrimes that have been reported to authorities that enforce law (Lynchet al., 2006). These crimes include but not limited to arson, motorvehicle theft, burglary, forcible rape, nonnegligent manslaughter,aggravated assault, murder, and robbery. It compiles data based onrecords of individual crime incidents as well as monthly lawenforcement reports. Mostly, individual crime incident records aretransmitted to the FBI in a direct manner or to centralized stateagencies before being reported to FBI. UCR ensures proper examinationof each report that it receives in order detect and correct anydeviations that may indicate or give rise to several errors. Forinstance, large variations in crime levels may give an impression ofincomplete reporting, shift in the boundaries of a certainjurisdiction, or modified records procedures. Therefore, UCR programensure proper comparison of monthly reports to previous submissionsof the agency with monthly reports of similar agencies in order toidentify any unusual fluctuations in the crime counts of an agency.It resent crime counts at various levels like towns, cities, statesand regions amongst many others. It publishes its findings on annualbasis its data include law enforcement personnel, characteristics ofhomicides like race of victims, persons arrested, ad data on crimescleared in addition to crime counts and trends. With time, UCRprogram is converting to NIBRS, which give provision for moreinformation on each criminal incident in approximately 22 broadcategories of offenses (Lynch et al., 2006).

NCVSbegan in 1973 and plays a significant role in providing detailedinformation on trends, incidents, and victims of crime (Lynch et al.,2006). It makes use of survey to gather detailed information onnature and frequency of several crimes (that are similar to the onecovered by UCR) like household burglary, motor vehicle theft, sexualassault, and personal robbery. However, it does not measurecommercial or homicide crimes. Its chief focus is on crimes thathouseholds and individuals have suffered regardless of whether thecrimes were reported or not reported to law enforcement. It alsoplays the role of estimating the proportion of each type of crimereported to law enforcement as well as summarizing victims’ reasonsfor reporting or not reporting such crimes. The phone survey providesinformation about offenders (like race and approximate age), victims(like education level, age, and sex), and crimes (like nature ofinjury and place of occurrence). The survey further incorporatesquestions that cover victims’ experiences with criminal justicesystem, likelihood of substance abuse by offenders, as well asvarious self-protective measures that victims use. In order to getdetailed information on topics like school crime, the surveyincorporates periodical addition of some supplements that help gathersuch information in a detailed manner (Lynch et al., 2006).

UCRprogram measures rape crime against women only whereas the NCVSmeasures it against both sexes. The chief objective of NCVS is toprovide information that was previously unavailable about crime(inclusive of crimes that were never reported to police), offenders,and victims UCR serve to provide reliable sets of criminal justicefor law enforcement operation, management, and operation.

Theymeasures set of crimes that are overlapping but non-identical. Forinstance, the NCVS incorporated crimes that are both reported and notreported to law enforcement agencies however it include some crimesthat are reported by UCR like commercial crimes, arson, homicide,arson, and crimes against children below the age of 12 (Lynch et al.,2006). Again, UCR only report crimes that have been reported to lawenforcement agencies however, it also gathers data for simple sexualassaults crimes.

NCVSestimates come from interviewing a sample hence, they have a highlikelihood of being subjected to a margin of error whereas UCR basesits data on the actual counts of offenses that have been reported byvarious agencies that enforce law. However, in some circumstances,UCR may estimate its data for nonparticipating agencies or agenciesthat report partial data.

Theyuse different bases in calculating rate of property crimes. Lynch etal (2006) findings show that NCVS measures these crimes as perhouseholds (number of crimes per a thousand households) whereas UCRmeasures such crimes as per capita (number of crimes for every100,000 people). Trend of data obtained on the rates of propertycrime by both UCR and NCVS may not be comparable since the number ofhouseholds may not necessary increase at the same rate as the totalpopulation annually.

Sometimes,they have different definitions of certain crimes depending on thetype of methodology put in place. For example, NCVS define burglary aperson’s act to attempt to enter or enter a residence without anypermission, whereas UCR define burglary as an unlawful act of anindividual to either attempt or enter a residence with an aim ofcommitting felony or theft.


Eachprogram has its own strengthens that help it report and measure crimerate in an effective manner. NCVS serve as the chief source ofinformation on any characteristics of criminal victimization as wellas on the number of crimes that have not been reported to any lawenforcement agencies and authorities. UCR also play the role ofproviding a measure of the number of crimes that have been reportedto authorities and agencies that enforce law. Its SupplementalHomicide Reports further provide timely and reliable data on theextent and nature of various homicides crimes reported in thecountry. Both programs complement each other and play a key role inmeasuring and reporting crimes. They measure a similar subset ofserious crimes despite the fact that they make use of differentmethodologies. Again, UCR and NCVS data can be used in theexploration and explanation of differences that may exist in anyreported and recorded crimes. It is therefore possible to accomplishdeeper understanding of trends on various crimes and nature of crimescommitted nationally when both strengths and limitations of bothprograms are understood. For example shifting attitudes towardsvarious crimes and changes in police procedures have a highlikelihood of increasing the extent to which people report crimes aswell as the extent to which law enforcement agencies and authoritiesrecord crimes.


Lynch,J. P &amp Addington, A.L. (2006). UnderstandingCrime Statistics: Revisiting the Divergence of the NCVS and the UCR.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.