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Information about crime comes from two primary sources: survey responses from victims about crimes they experienced and administrative data from law enforcement agencies about crimes reported to them. Victim survey responses capture information on crimes reported to the police, as well as those crimes that were not reported. Crime data from law enforcement agencies reflect those crimes reported to and recorded by police. 

The Nation's Two Crime Measures

Department of Justice agencies collect both survey and administrative data on crime.

  • BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) captures incident-level data on reported and unreported crime from the victim's perspective
  • FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program Summary Reporting System (SRS) collects summary-based counts of crime reported by law enforcement

Similar to many other indicators used to assess conditions in the United States, these two indicators of crime complement each other to produce a more comprehensive portrait of the nation's crime problem.

Some of the differences between SRS and NCVS are—

  Summary Reporting System National Crime Victimization Survey
Geographic coverage

National and state estimates, local agency reports

Data can be aggregated to county-level and federal judicial district

National estimates
Collection method Reports by law enforcement to the FBI on a monthly basis Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of about 240,000 persons in about 150,000 households.
Measures Aggregate counts of 10 offense types reported by law enforcement Reported and unreported crime; details about the crimes, victims, and offenders

For more information about the UCR and the NCVS, see The Nation's Two Crime Measures.

On January 1, 2021, the SRS was retired, and the FBI UCR Program transitioned to incident-based submissions of reported crime data to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). For more information on the transition to NIBRS, see the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) program page and the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X) program page.

Terms & Definitions


An unlawful physical attack or threat of attack. Assaults may be classified as aggravated or simple. Rape, attempted rape, and sexual assaults are excluded from this category, as well as robbery and attempted robbery. The severity of assaults ranges from minor threats to nearly fatal incidents.


A specific criminal act involving one or more victims and offenders. For example, if two people are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as two robbery victimizations but only one robbery incident.

Multiple offenders

Two or more persons inflicting some direct harm to a victim. The victim-offender relationship is determined by the offender with the closest relationship to the victim. The following list ranks the different relationships from closest to most distant: spouse, former spouse, parent, child, other relative, nonrelative well known person, casual acquaintance, or stranger. See "Nonstranger" and "Stranger."

Personal crimes

Rape, sexual assault, personal robbery, assault, purse snatching, and pocket picking. This category includes both attempted and completed crimes.


A crime as it affects one individual person or household. For personal crimes, the number of victimizations is equal to the number of victims involved. The number of victimizations may be greater than the number of incidents because more than one person may be victimized during an incident. Each crime against a household is assumed to involve a single victim, the affected household.

Date Created: February 18, 2021