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FBI Releases Inaugural Compilation of Annual Crime Statistics from the National Incident-Based Reporting System

Washington, D.C. August 19, 2013
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its first publication presenting annual data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The statistics, published by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in the comprehensive volume National Incident-Based Reporting System 2011 (NIBRS 2011), provide data about the offenses, victims, offenders, locations, and other details of crime incidents. Although the data are not yet nationally representative and the UCR Program does not estimate offenses for the jurisdictions of agencies that did not submit their data via the NIBRS, the rich details of the data offer more characteristics and associations in crime than has been previously published. The NIBRS can paint a more complete picture of a crime incident than any other collection of data.

NIBRS 2011 features 32 tables that show the diversity and complexity of incident-based data when compared with other crime data collection methods. The NIBRS provides:

  • Data for 22 offense categories
  • Victim data for all offenses
  • Offender data for all offenses
  • Relationship of victims to offenders for select offenses
  • Location data for all offenses
  • Time of day for all incidents
  • Weapon data for select offenses
  • Drug and alcohol involvement in offenses
  • Gang involvement in offenses
  • Attempted versus completed offenses
  • Clearances by incidents

NIBRS 2011 also includes a special section, NIBRS Spotlight, which offers 24 tables about forcible sex offenses and nonforcible sex offenses. This special section sheds light on details of these crimes, e.g., victim, offender, and victim-to-offender relationship data, not collected elsewhere in the UCR Program.

NIBRS 2011 Highlights

In 2011, a total of 5,880 law enforcement agencies in the nation, representing coverage for over 87 million inhabitants, submitted NIBRS data. This coverage represents 32.2 percent of all law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program. The majority of these reporting agencies (51.7 percent) were located in cities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.

Participating NIBRS agencies reported 4,926,829 incidents that involved 5,643,241 offenses, 5,946,990 victims, and 4,483,142 known offenders in 2011. Of the reported offenses, 65.4 percent involved crimes against property (i.e., those crimes in which the object is to obtain money, property, or some other benefit), 23.4 percent involved crimes against persons (i.e., crimes whose victims are always individuals), and 11.2 percent included crimes against society (i.e., typically “victimless crimes” that represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity, such as prostitution or gambling).

One of the data enrichments of the NIBRS is its collection of victim data for all offenses. In the NIBRS, the victim of an offense may be an individual (and can include a law enforcement officer), a business, an institution, or society as a whole. In 2011, the nation’s law enforcement agencies that submitted their data via the NIBRS reported 4,305,708 victims who were individuals. Of these, 29.0 percent were the victims of larceny/theft offenses, and 28.5 percent were the victims of assault offenses; these two offense categories had the highest number of victims. Considering age among individual victims, 24.6 percent were between 21 and 30 years old. Fifty-one percent were female and 48.3 percent were male. The majority of reported victims (72.5 percent) were white, 21.6 percent were black, 1.0 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.4 percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Race was unknown for 4.4 percent of victims.

Through NIBRS, law enforcement can report the age, sex, and race of offenders, thus distinguishing a known offender from an unknown offender for whom no such characteristics are known to law enforcement. Because an offender can be associated with each offense he or she perpetrates in an incident, an offender can be counted more than once. In 2011, there were 4,483,142 offenders of offenses reported via the NIBRS. Over 34 percent (34.5) of offenders were between the ages of 16 and 25 years old. Of all ages, 63.6 percent were male offenders and 23.8 percent were female. Gender was unknown for 12.5 percent. Over half (55.3 percent) of offenders reported in the NIBRS in 2011 were white; 28.3 percent were black, 0.8 percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 0.6 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander. The race was unknown for 15.0 percent of offenders.

NIBRS data also show the relationship of victims to their offenders for crimes against persons and robbery offenses. However, because the published data do not include persons who were not connected to any unknown offenders, other crimes against property, or crimes against society, the victim total for the relationship table will not add to the total of victims given in other tables. Still, this is another valuable facet of the NIBRS.

In 2011, agencies that submitted NIBRS data could specify one of 44 location types where offenses occurred. Although the majority of crimes against persons offenses (62.7 percent) for which location was reported occurred in residences/homes, 11.8 percent happened on highways/roads/alleys or streets, 4.5 percent happened in schools or colleges, 4.1 percent happened in parking lots or garages, 2.2 percent took place at bars or nightclubs, 1.2 percent occurred at hotels/motels, and 0.8 percent happened at government/public buildings.

The time of day most reported for the occurrence of crime was midnight to 12:59 a.m. The time of day least reported for the occurrence of crime was 5:00 a.m. to 5:59 a.m.

Among select offenses, firearms were most often the type of weapon/force involved in weapon law violations and homicide offenses when compared to all other weapon types combined. Firearms were also the most reported single weapon category for robbery. Personal weapons, i.e., hands, fists, feet, etc., were most often the type of weapon/force involved for assault offenses, sex offenses (forcible), and kidnapping/abduction offenses. Most extortion/blackmail offenses did not involve a weapon or force.

Agencies that submit data via the NIBRS can report an offender’s suspected use of drugs/narcotics or alcohol in committing an offense. In 2011, 8.1 percent of weapon law violations, 5.8 percent of bribery offenses, and 4.0 percent of homicide offenses involved drugs/narcotics. Alcohol was involved in 12.3 percent of assault offenses, 10.7 percent of kidnapping/abduction offenses, and 9.6 percent of bribery offenses.

Agencies may also provide information about gang involvement for 11 offense types. Of the offense types for which gang involvement can be specified, less than one percent of reported offenses were associated with gangs.

A look at the reported number of offenses that were completed and the number of those attempted shows that larceny/theft offenses had the highest number of completed offenses, and burglary/breaking and entering had the highest number of attempted offenses. The offenses with the lowest number of completions and attempts were bribery and gambling offenses, respectively.

In the NIBRS, the submission of arrestee data in connection with an incident automatically clears all offenses within the incident. There may, however, be exceptional means by which an incident can be cleared, i.e., some situation beyond the control of law enforcement that prevents the agency from arresting and charging an offender. Examples of exceptional clearances include the death of the offender, the prosecution declines to file charges (for reasons other than lack of probable cause), the offender is already in custody in another jurisdiction, the victim refuses to cooperate once the offender is identified, or the offender is a juvenile who is handed over to a parent or guardian following a minor offense. In 2011, 30.8 percent of incidents reported were cleared by arrests, and 3.9 percent of incidents were cleared by exceptional means.

The NIBRS Spotlight includes data about forcible and nonforcible sex offenses. These data show that of the 64,382 incidents involving forcible sex offenses reported in 2011, 44.8 percent involved forcible fondling, 40.7 percent included forcible rape, 10.2 percent involved forcible sodomy, and 4.3 percent included sexual assault with an object. Of the 6,377 incidents involving nonforcible sex offenses, 83.8 percent included statutory rape, and 16.2 percent included incest.

Future Plans

With NIBRS 2012, tentatively planned for release this fall, the UCR Program will expand the data presentation to provide breakdowns of offense categories by offense types. In addition, the program will include agency-level data in the publication.

The NIBRS and the Summary Reporting System

The purpose of NIBRS 2011 is to familiarize UCR data users with NIBRS data and to highlight the differences between the NIBRS and the Summary Reporting System (SRS), which is the source of Crime in the United States. The primary difference between the two UCR data collection methods is that the NIBRS is incident focused whereas the SRS is offense focused. For example, crime data reported via the NIBRS in 2011 captured every offense that was part of the incident, as well as numerous details about the offense, the victim, the offender, and the property involved via 57 data elements. Data reported via the SRS in 2011 captured the most serious offense involved in an incident plus a few supplemental details, depending on the offense; victim and offender data were collected only for murder offenses. Other notable differences between the published data from the two sources include:

National Incident-Based Reporting System and NIBRS 2011Summary Reporting System and Crime in the United States
22 crime categories eight crime categories
disaggregated data aggregated data
no Hierarchy Rule for offenses Hierarchy Rule for offenses (only the most serious is reported)
counts 10 offenses per incident counts one offense per incident (except arson)
no national estimates national estimates
victim data for all offenses victim data for murder offenses
offender data for all offenses offender data for murder offenses
45 location types for all offenses eight location types between robbery and burglary

These differences allow the NIBRS to present many more facets of crime than the traditional SRS, as well as relationships and connections among these facets. The richness of NIBRS data stems from the details it can provide.

In order for law enforcement agencies that submit their data via the NIBRS to be included in Crime in the United States, the FBI UCR Program currently converts data to the SRS format. This conversion process allows the UCR Program to maintain its important long-running time series of national data. Therefore, data users who wish to look at national or state crime volumes, rates, and trends must continue to look to Crime in the United States for now. The UCR Program’s oldest annual report is still the best gauge of national crime levels. As NIBRS participation continues to grow, the UCR Program’s goal is to eventually collect and publish NIBRS data that are nationally representative.

NIBRS 2011 is available exclusively on the FBI’s website at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr. In addition, A Guide to Understanding NIBRS Data and other NIBRS resources are available there to assist data users, as well as law enforcement contributors.