The Federal Bureau of Investigation yesterday issued its annual report of crime data in the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The system was set up to provide much more data about crime incidents than is available in the better known Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which list crime totals voluntarily reported by law enforcement agencies around the nation.
NIBRS reporting also is voluntary, but the data are compiled in five broad categories: incidents, offenses, vctims, offenders, and arrestees, as well as many subcategories.
Yesterday’s report includes more than 5.6 million criminal offenses and information on nearly 6 million victims, 4.5 million offenders, and 1.5 million arrestees. The FBI says the report “provides a diverse scope of information about victims, known offenders, and relationships for 23 offense categories (including sex offenses).” It includes arrest data for those offense categories plus 11 more.
When one criminal incident may include several different offenses, the Uniform Crime Report generally includes only the most serious. NIBRS, by contrast, includes all offenses within an incident, as well as information about the location, time of day, and whether the offense was cleared by an arrest.
One drawback of NIBRS is that it includes data for only 34.4 percent of law enforcement agencies that take part in the UCR program. That is, 6,328 law enforcement agencies, who cover for more than 92 million U.S.inhabitants.
Of the reported offenses, 64.7 percent involved property crimes, 22.8 percent involved crimes against persons, and 12.6 percent included crimes against society (typically “victimless crimes” that represent society's prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity, such as gambling).
Last year’s NIBRS report was the first to use the FBI’s expanded definition of rape that was adopted in late 2011.
There were 26,383 women who reported rapes to jurisdictions that compile NIBRS data. Adding male victims (611), sodomy (7,602), and sexual assault with an object (3,043) produces an increase of more than 42% in the total.
It is important to note that this represents only a small fraction of the estimated number of rapes in the U.S. in a given year, most of which are not reported to law enforcement.
The National Crime Victimization Survey for 2013, which is based on interviews with a representative sample of Americans, estimated 300,170 rapes and sexual assaults last year, far more than did the NIBRS report.