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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.

Date Created: February 18, 2021