Where’d They Get That Number?

When you watch the news and reporters talk about crime statistics, did you ever wonder where they’re getting their information? The most widely cited crime statistics come from the FBI’s UCR, or Uniform Crime Report.

In the 1920’s crime reports were collected and shared by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). But in 1930, Congress passed legislation for the government to collect, classify and preserve crime records in the US. The  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was the agency that was chosen to complete this task. They have been doing it ever since.

The UCR’s primary goal was to develop a uniform set of definitions for crimes and create a format of how police departments record crimes. Reports from over 17,000 county, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country provide the FBI with data on arrest rates. The information that the UCR provides is accessed by law enforcement agencies for administrative and operations management, by those in the criminal justice profession, professors, students, journalists, librarians, researchers, or anyone else interested in crime statistics. The information is free to access.

Now keep in mind, these reports are focusing on ARREST information and how many crimes are reported. Crimes that are unfounded (no supporting evidence of a crime) are not counted in the final data.


(Thank you Dr. Nicky Jackson, Criminal Justice Professor at Purdue University Calumet for being such an awesome instructor! Even after years, I still make use of notes from your class and apply them to everyday life.)


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