Uniform Crime Reporting Methodology
(The following was excerpted from Crime in the U.S. Appendices I, II, and V. Nonsubstantive adaptations have been made by the JABG Technical Support Center staff.)
The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of over 16,000 city, county, and state law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention. These agencies cover 95% of the nation's population. The information compiled by UCR contributors is forwarded to the FBI either directly from local law enforcement agencies or through state-level UCR programs in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Agencies submitting directly to the FBI are provided continuing guidance and support on an individual basis.
State-level UCR programs are very effective intermediaries between local contributors and the FBI. Many of the programs have mandatory reporting requirements and collect data beyond the national UCR scope to address crime problems germane to their particular locales. In most cases, these agencies are also able to provide more direct and frequent service to participating law enforcement agencies, to make information more readily available for use at the state level, and to contribute to more streamlined operations at the national level.
With the development of a state UCR program, the FBI ceases direct collection of data from individual law enforcement agencies within the state. Instead, information from local agencies is forwarded to the national program through the state data collection agency. The conditions under which these systems are developed ensure consistency and comparability in the data submitted to the national program, as well as provide for regular and timely reporting of national crime data. These conditions are:
(1) The state program must conform to national Uniform Crime Reports' standards, definitions, and information requirements.
(2) The state criminal justice agency must have a proven, effective, statewide program and have instituted acceptable quality control procedures.
(3) Coverage within the state by a state agency must be, at least, equal to that attained by the national Uniform Crime Reports.
(4) The state agency must have adequate field staff assigned to conduct audits and to assist contributing agencies in record practices and crime reporting procedures.
(5) The state agency must furnish to the FBI all of the detailed data regularly collected by the FBI in the form of duplicate returns, computer printouts, and/or magnetic tapes.
(6) The state agency must have the proven capability (tested over a period of time) to supply all the statistical data required in time to meet national Uniform Crime Reports' publication deadlines.
To fulfill its responsibilities in connection with the UCR program, the FBI continues to edit and review individual agency reports for both completeness and quality; has direct contact with individual contributors within the state when necessary in connection with crime reporting matters, coordinating such contact with the state agency; and upon request, conducts training programs within the state on law enforcement records and crime reporting procedures. Should circumstances develop whereby the state agency does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the national program may reinstate a direct collection of Uniform Crime Reports from law enforcement agencies within the state.
Based on records of all reports of crime received from victims, officers who discover infractions, or other sources, law enforcement agencies across the country tabulate the number of Crime Index or Part I offenses brought to their attention each month. Specifically, the crimes reported to the FBI are murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
Whenever complaints of crime are determined through investigation to be unfounded or false, they are eliminated from an agency's count. The number of "actual offenses known" is reported to the FBI regardless of whether anyone is arrested for the crime, stolen property is recovered, or prosecution is undertaken.
Another integral part of the monthly submission is the total number of actual Crime Index offenses cleared. Crimes are "cleared" in one of two ways: (1) at least one person is arrested, charged, and turned over to the court for prosecution; or (2) by exceptional means when some element beyond law enforcement agencies' control precludes the arrest of an offender. Law enforcement agencies also report the number of Index crime clearances which involve only offenders under the age of 18; the value of property stolen and recovered in connection with the offenses; and detailed information pertaining to criminal homicide and arson.
In addition to its primary collection of Crime Index (Part I) offenses, the UCR program solicits monthly data on persons arrested for all crimes except traffic violations. The age, sex, and race of arrestees are reported by crime category, both Part I and Part I.
Various data on law enforcement officers killed or assaulted are collected on a monthly basis. The number of full-time sworn and civilian personnel is reported as of October 31 each year.
Each report submitted to the UCR program is thoroughly examined for arithmetical accuracy and for deviations which may indicate errors. To identify any unusual fluctuations in an agency's crime count, monthly reports are compared with previous submissions of the agency and with those for similar agencies. Large variations in crime levels may indicate modified records procedures, incomplete reporting, or changes in the jurisdiction's geopolitical structure.
Data reliability is a high priority of the program and noted deviations or arithmetical adjustments are brought to the attention of the state UCR program or the submitting agency through correspondence. A standard procedure of the FBI is to study the monthly reports and to evaluate periodic trends prepared for individual reporting units. Any significant increase or decrease is made the subject of a special inquiry. When it is found that changes in crime reporting procedures or annexations are influencing the level of crime, the figures for specific crime categories or, if necessary, totals are excluded from trend tabulations.
To assist contributors in complying with UCR standards, the national program provides training seminars and instructional materials in crime reporting procedures. Throughout the country, liaison with state programs and law enforcement personnel is maintained, and training sessions are held to explain the purpose of the program, the rules of uniform classification and scoring, and the methods of assembling the information for reporting. When an individual agency has specific problems in compiling its crime statistics and remedial efforts are unsuccessful, FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division personnel may visit the contributor to aid in resolving the difficulties.
The Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, which details procedures for classifying and scoring offenses, is supplied to all contributors as the basic resource document for preparing reports. Since a good records system is essential for accurate crime reporting, the FBI also furnishes the Manual of Law Enforcement Records.
To enhance communication among program participants, letters to UCR contributors and state UCR program "Bulletins" are utilized. They address program policy, as well as present information and instructional material, and are produced as needed.
The final responsibility for data submissions rests with the individual contributing law enforcement agency. Although the program makes every effort through its editing procedures, training practices, and correspondence to assure the validity of the data it receives, the statistics' accuracy depends primarily on the adherence of each contributor to the established standards of reporting. Deviations from these established standards which cannot be resolved by the national UCR program may be brought to the attention of the Criminal Justice Information Systems Committees of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs' Association.
Several states provide their UCR data in the expanded NIBRS format. For presentation in Crime in the U.S. and for inclusion in data files supplied for formula computations, NIBRS data were converted to the historical summary UCR formats. The NIBRS data base was constructed to allow for such conversion so that UCR's long-running time series could continue.
Uniform Crime Reporting Offense Definitions
Offenses in Uniform Crime Reporting are divided into two groups, Part I and Part II. Information on the volume of Part I offenses known to law enforcement, those cleared by arrest or exceptional means, and the number of persons arrested is reported monthly. Only arrest data are reported for Part II offenses.
Part I Violent Crimes are:
Criminal homicide -- a. Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter: the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. Deaths caused by negligence, attempts to kill, assaults to kill, suicides, accidental deaths, and justifiable homicides are excluded. Justifiable homicides are limited to: (1) the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty; and (2) the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen. b. Manslaughter by negligence: the killing of another person through gross negligence. Traffic fatalities are excluded. While manslaughter by negligence is a Part I crime, it is not included in the Crime Index.
Forcible rape -- The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Included are rapes by force and attempts or assaults to rape. Statutory offenses (no force used -- victim under age of consent) are excluded.
Robbery -- The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.
Aggravated assault -- An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded.
Only the above four Part I violent crimes are used in the JABG formula.
Part I Property Crimes are:
Burglary-breaking or entering -- The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft. Attempted forcible entry is included.
Larceny-theft (except motor vehicle theft) -- The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another. Examples are thefts of bicycles or automobile accessories, shoplifting, pocket- picking, or the stealing of any property or article which is not taken by force and violence or by fraud. Attempted larcenies are included. Embezzlement, confidence games, forgery, worthless checks, etc., are excluded.
Motor vehicle theft -- The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is self-propelled and runs on the surface and not on rails. Specifically excluded from this category are motorboats, construction equipment, airplanes, and farming equipment.
Arson -- Any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.
The Part II offenses are:
Other assaults (simple) -- Assaults and attempted assaults where no weapon is used and which do not result in serious or aggravated injury to the victim.
Forgery and counterfeiting -- Making, altering, uttering, or possessing, with intent to defraud, anything false in the semblance of that which is true. Attempts are included.
Fraud -- Fraudulent conversion and obtaining money or property by false pretenses. Included are confidence games and bad checks, except forgeries and counterfeiting.
Embezzlement -- Misappropriation or misapplication of money or property entrusted to one's care, custody, or control.
Stolen property; buying, receiving, possessing -- Buying, receiving, and possessing stolen property, including attempts.
Vandalism -- Willful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of any public or private property, real or personal, without consent of the owner or persons having custody or control.
Weapons; carrying, possessing, etc. -- All violations of regulations or statutes controlling the carrying, using, possessing, furnishing, and manufacturing of deadly weapons or silencers. Included are attempts.
Prostitution and commercialized vice -- Sex offenses of a commercialized nature, such as prostitution, keeping a bawdy house, procuring, or transporting women for immoral purposes. Attempts are included.
Sex offenses (except forcible rape, prostitution, and commercialized vice) -- Statutory rape and offenses against chastity, common decency, morals, and the like. Attempts are included.
Drug abuse violations -- State and/or local offenses relating to the unlawful possession, sale, use, growing, and manufacturing of narcotic drugs. The following drug categories are specified: opium or cocaine and their derivatives (morphine, heroin, codeine); marijuana; synthetic narcotics-manufactured narcotics that can cause true addiction (demerol, methadone); and dangerous nonnarcotic drugs (barbiturates, benzedrine).
Gambling -- Promoting, permitting, or engaging in illegal gambling.
Offenses against the family and children -- Nonsupport, neglect, desertion, or abuse of family and children.
Driving under the influence -- Driving or operating any vehicle or common carrier while drunk or under the influence of liquor or narcotics.
Liquor laws -- State and/or local liquor law violations, except "drunkenness" and "driving under the influence." Federal violations are excluded.
Drunkenness -- Offenses relating to drunkenness or intoxication. Excluded is "driving under the influence."
Disorderly conduct -- Breach of the peace.
Vagrancy -- Vagabondage, begging, loitering, etc.
All other offenses -- All violations of state and/or local laws, except those listed above and traffic offenses.
Suspicion -- No specific offense; suspect released without formal charges being placed.
Curfew and loitering laws (persons under age 18) -- Offenses relating to violations of local curfew or loitering ordinances where such laws exist.
Runaways (persons under age 18) -- Limited to juveniles taken into protective custody under provisions of local statutes.
Directory of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs
District of Columbia
Ohio (NIBRS data only)
Tennessee (NIBRS data only)