New Victimization Survey Says U.S. Crime Rates “Stable”


The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ crime victimization survey for 2006 is consistent with the FBI’s finding that violent crime nationally rose slightly last year, Justice Department officials say. The new report estimates that there were 6,094,720 violent crimes in the U.S. last year. The estimate for 2005 was 5,173,720, but BJS says that should not be read as an actual increase because of methodological changes in the survey. The changes included interviewers asking questions from a form in a laptop computer rather than a paper version.

The victimization survey is based on interviews of 135,300 individuals age 12 or older in 76,000 households. Because a new sample was surveyed for 2006 that included more rural residents, BJS listed comparisons in its new report only for what it called “continuing” urban and suburban areas. For those groups, the crime rate was “stable” between 2005 and 2006, BJS said. Violence in “continuing urban areas” was up 1 percent, but BJS said that was not “statistically significant.” The victimization survey includes many crimes not reported to law enforcement. The FBI said that 1,417,745 violent crimes were reported in 2006, far under the BJS estimate of actual crimes. BJS’ estimated total of property crimes in 2006 was 18,808,820. The new BJS estimate of rape/sexual assault cases nationally for 2006 was 272,350, compared with the FBI’s reported-case total of 92,455.


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