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

Updated 24 weeks ago From Press Release
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in December  released its second compilation of annual data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The report, NIBRS 2012, presents core tables about incident and offense data submitted by a third of the nation’s law enforcement agencies that participate in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, as well as a new series of tables with agency-level data. The report also furnishes a series of tables about sex offenses and another new series of tables with data about arrestees.

Although NIBRS data are not yet nationally representative and the UCR Program does not estimate offenses for agencies that did not submit NIBRS data, NIBRS 2012 shows the rich, diverse scope of incident-based reporting overall. The 32 core tables present data for 22 offense categories, victims, offenders, relationships, locations, time of day, weapon use, drug and alcohol involvement, and gang involvement. They also distinguish attempted versus completed offenses, as well as the number of clearances by incidents. The agency-level tables (presented by state) show the number of offenses reported by each agency that fully participated in the UCR Program via the NIBRS. The 24 tables about sex offenses provide details—e.g., victim, offender, and victim-to-offender relationship data—not collected elsewhere in the UCR Program for sex offenses.

New to the annual compilation, the arrestees table series covers the demographics of arrestees—e.g., age, sex, and race—as well as noteworthy facts such as the arrestees’ use of weapons, the disposition of juvenile arrestees, and the type of arrest (on-view, taken into custody, or summoned/cited) by arrest offense category.

NIBRS 2012 Highlights

In 2012, a total of 6,115 law enforcement agencies in the nation, representing coverage for over 90 million inhabitants, submitted NIBRS data. This coverage represents 33.4 percent of all law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program. More than half of these reporting agencies (51.9 percent) were located in cities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.

Participating NIBRS agencies reported 5,001,060 incidents that involved 5,734,653 offenses, 6,050,049 victims, and 4,556,183 known offenders in 2012. Of the reported offenses, 64.9 percent involved crimes against property (i.e., those crimes in which the object is to obtain money, property, or some other benefit); 23.2 percent involved crimes against persons (i.e., crimes whose victims are always individuals); and 12.0 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).

Through the NIBRS, the UCR Program collects victim data for all reported offenses; the victim of an offense may be an individual, a business, an institution, or society as a whole. In 2012, the nation’s law enforcement agencies that submitted their data via the NIBRS reported 4,044,275 victims who were individuals. Of these, 48.3 percent were male, 50.9 percent were female, and sex was unknown for 0.8 percent. The majority (72.7 percent) were white, 21.0 percent were black, 1.2 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.5 percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Race was unknown for 4.7 percent of victims. More than 24 percent (24.1) of victims were between the ages of 21 and 30 years of age. Age was unknown for 2.0 percent of victims.

In the NIBRS, the term "known offender" indicates that some aspect of the suspect—such as the age, sex, or race—was identified, not necessarily that the suspect’s identity is known. In addition, an offender can be counted more than once because he or she can be associated with each offense he or she perpetrates in an incident. In 2012, there were 3,971,642 known offenders of offenses reported via the NIBRS. Nearly 33 percent (32.9) of known offenders were between the ages of 16 and 25 years of age. Of all known offenders, 63.0 percent were male, 24.7 percent were female, and gender was unknown for 12.3 percent. The majority (55.4 percent) of known offenders reported in the NIBRS in 2012 were white; 28.1 percent were black, and 1.5 percent were of other races. The race was unknown for 15.1 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. Even so, relationship is another valuable facet of the data collected via the NIBRS.

Agencies that submit NIBRS data can specify one of 44 location types where offenses occur. In 2012, the majority of crimes against persons offenses (63.0 percent) for which location was reported occurred in residences/homes, 11.9 percent happened on highways, roads, alleys, or streets, 4.3 percent happened in schools or colleges, 4.0 percent happened in parking lots or garages, and 2.1 percent took place at bars or nightclubs. The remaining 14.7 percent of crimes against persons offenses occurred at other specified or unknown location designations.

The time of day most reported for incidents involving crimes against persons was midnight to 12:59 a.m., while the time of day most reported for incidents involving crimes against property was noon to 12:59 p.m.

Among select offenses for which the type of weapon/force involved was reported, assault offenses, forcible sex offenses, and kidnapping offenses most often involved personal weapons, i.e., hands, fists, feet, etc. Weapon law violations (obviously), robbery, and homicide offenses most often involved firearms. Over half of extortion/blackmail offenses did not involve a weapon or force.

Agencies that submit data via the NIBRS can also report an offender’s suspected involvement with drugs/narcotics, alcohol, or gangs in committing an offense. In 2012, 9.0 percent of weapon law violations, 5.8 percent of gambling offenses, 5.4 percent of stolen property offenses, 5.3 percent of prostitution offenses, and 4.4 percent of homicide offenses involved the use of drugs/narcotics. Alcohol use was involved in 12.9 percent of assault offenses, 11.1 percent of bribery offenses, 10.9 percent of kidnapping/abduction offenses, and 9.9 percent of weapon law violations. Of the five offense categories (consisting of 11 offense types) in NIBRS for which gang involvement can be associated, less than one percent of all of those reported offenses were connected with gangs.

A look at the reported number of offenses that were completed and the number of those attempted shows that larceny/theft offenses, assault offenses, and destruction/ damage/vandalism were the offenses most often completed. Burglary/breaking and entering, larceny/theft offenses, and fraud offenses were the offenses most often attempted.

In the NIBRS, the submission of arrestee data in connection with an incident automatically clears all offenses within the incident. In 2012, 28.5 percent of incidents reported were cleared by arrests.

The tables presented in NIBRS 2012 include data about forcible and non-forcible sex offenses as collected prior to mandated definition changes. These data show that of the 67,861 incidents involving forcible sex offenses reported in 2012, 45.2 percent involved forcible fondling, 40.2 percent included forcible rape, 10.2 percent involved forcible sodomy, and 4.4 percent included sexual assault with an object. Of the 6,137 incidents involving non-forcible sex offenses, 83.1 percent included statutory rape and 16.9 percent included incest.

The NIBRS and the Summary Reporting System

The primary difference between the UCR Program’s two main data collection methods is that the NIBRS is incident-based and the Summary Reporting System (SRS)─the source of Crime in the United States─is offense-based. Other notable differences between the published data from the two sources are included in the table below.

National Incident-Based Reporting System and NIBRS 2012Summary 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 up to 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
44 location types for all offenses eight location types between robbery and burglary


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

To look at national or state crime volumes, rates, and trends, data users must continue to use 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 2012 is available exclusively on the FBI’s website at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/2012. In addition, A Guide to Understanding NIBRS and other NIBRS resources are available there to assist data users as well as law enforcement contributors.

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