December 28, 2012
Originally published in the December 2012 edition of the CJIS Link, Volume 14, Number 3
America’s oldest time series of crime data is undergoing a great transformation. On January 1, a number of new and updated data collection and processing initiatives will move the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program closer to providing a better look at the scope and nature of crime in our nation. For the past few years, technical information specialists, analysts, statistical assistants, and other members of the UCR Redevelopment Program (UCRRP) team have been developing the standards by which law enforcement agencies can submit new, more detailed data. They have also been setting into motion better ways for the Bureau to process them. Together, these changes will make UCR more relevant to current issues and concerns and, in general, more efficient. Highlights of these changes include the following.
Human Trafficking Offenses and Arrests—In response to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the UCR Program will collect data on human trafficking in two categories: commercial sex acts and involuntary servitude. Human trafficking/commercial sex acts and human trafficking/involuntary servitude will be Part I offenses in the Summary Reporting System (SRS) and Group A offenses in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The offenses will be defined the same in both collection methods. In addition, another prostitution offense, purchasing prostitution, was added.
New Bias Categories of Gender and Gender Identity—With these two new categories, four new bias types were added to the FBI’s hate crime data collection as a result of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Under the new bias category of Gender, Anti-Male and Anti-Female were included. Under the new bias category of Gender Identity, Anti-Transgender and Anti-Gender Non-Conforming were added. Under the bias category of Sexual Orientation, the category Anti-Homosexual was revised to Anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (Mixed Group). Both victim and offender collections were modified to account for bias-motivated crimes directed toward and perpetrated by juveniles in accordance with the Act.
New Rape Definition—Following the CJIS Advisory Policy Board’s recommendations as approved by Director Robert S. Mueller, III, the UCR Program revised its definition of rape to include all victims (not just female victims as was the case in the SRS) and omit the requirement of physical force. In the SRS, rape is now defined as “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” (The NIBRS sex offenses already capture the broader sex offense information reflected in the new SRS definition.) The term forcible has also been dropped from all sex offenses in both the SRS and NIBRS.
UCR: More Than Meets the Eye
It takes the combined efforts of thousands of law enforcement agencies reporting data on the crimes brought to their attention before a news anchor says “New numbers released by the FBI report that the level of crime is on the move….” In its administrative role of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, the FBI collects, verifies, publishes, and audits crime data. The program’s primary objective is to generate sound, useful information for law enforcement administration, operation, and management. Although the Summary Reporting System (SRS)—the traditional counting of eight violent and property crime offenses—represents UCR to most people, it is just one of two ways that agencies submit their offense and arrest data, as well as some of their data concerning law enforcement officers killed and assaulted. The other way agencies submit data is through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which uses up to 58 data elements to collect details about incidents, offenses, and law enforcement officers killed and assaulted. NIBRS submissions also include data on other facets of UCR such as hate crime, cargo theft, and (beginning January 1) human trafficking. Agencies that report their offense and arrest data via the SRS must make separate electronic submissions for those other facets of data.
For more information about the UCR Program visit http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr.
Updated Race and Ethnicity Collection Categories—To comply with the race and ethnicity designations specified by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and to better reflect the changing composition of America, the UCR Program will now collect five race categories and two revised ethnicity categories. The race categories are White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The ethnicity categories are Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino. These designations apply to all facets of the UCR Program in which race and ethnicity are captured for victims, offenders, arrestees, and racial bias types. These include the SRS, NIBRS, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA), hate crime, cargo theft, and human trafficking data collections.
Although the FBI’s national UCR Program will begin accepting the new, more detailed data beginning January 1, not all local, county, state, tribal, and federal agencies are necessarily equipped to report the modified records. The FBI anticipates a number of agencies will continue to make the required changes in the months to come.
In addition to expanding the UCR Program’s data collection, the UCRRP aims to improve the overall methods by which the FBI accepts, processes, checks, and publishes data. For starters, the UCR Program is getting a new, more efficient system capable of relating and storing more data than ever before. To help streamline the submission process, the UCR Program will stop accepting paper submissions and Portable Document Format files in 2013 (except for agencies that have established a transition plan for a brief extension). This automation will include internal data quality checks sooner and enable staff to supply results back to contributors faster. Ultimately, the program will be able to provide a more timely, detailed, and relevant snapshot of crime in our nation that will help law enforcement in the allocation of resources.
Agencies with questions concerning these pending system changes should contact their state UCR Program managers or the UCR Program’s Crime Statistics Management Unit by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (304) 625-4830.