National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

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By NH POLITICIAN

Implemented to improve the overall quality of crime data collected by law enforcement, NIBRS captures details on each single crime incident—as well as on separate offenses within the same incident—including information on victims, known offenders, relationships between victims and offenders, arrestees, and property involved in crimes. Unlike data reported through the UCR Program’s traditional Summary Reporting System (SRS)—an aggregate monthly tally of crimes—NIBRS goes much deeper because of its ability to provide circumstances and context for crimes like location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.

As recommended by professional law enforcement organizations, the FBI has made nationwide implementation of NIBRS a top priority because NIBRS can provide more useful statistics to promote constructive discussion, measured planning, and informed policing. To increase participation, the UCR Program is partnering with the Bureau of Justice Statistics on the National Crime Statistics Exchange, working with advocacy groups to emphasize the importance of NIBRS data and its utility, and transitioning the UCR Program to a NIBRS-only data collection by 2021. In addition, the UCR Program has made resources available to help agencies address the cost of transitioning as well as the potential perception that an agency has higher crime levels when NIBRS actually establishes a new baseline that more precisely captures reported crime in a community.

The vision for NIBRS is for it to become the law enforcement community’s standard for quantifying crime, which will help law enforcement and communities around the country use resources more strategically and effectively. In 2017, approximately 43 percent of U.S. law enforcement agencies that participated in the UCR Program submitted data via NIBRS. Since then, the FBI has received thousands of commitments from law enforcement across the nation to be NIBRS-compliant by 2021. Ultimately, the national transition to NIBRS will further support the mission of the FBI’s UCR Program to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration, operation, and management.

When used to its full potential, NIBRS identifies, with precision, when and where crime takes place, what form it takes, and the characteristics of its victims and perpetrators. Armed with such information, law enforcement can better define the resources it needs to fight crime, as well as use those resources in the most efficient and effective manner. When compared to the Summary Reporting System (SRS), currently being phased out, NIBRS:

  • Provides greater specificity in reporting offenses. Not only does NIBRS look at all of the offenses within an incident, but it also looks at many more offenses than the traditional SRS does. NIBRS collects data for 52 offenses, plus 10 additional offenses for which only arrests are reported. SRS counts limited data for 10 offenses and 20 additional crimes for which only arrests are reported.
  • Collects more detailed information, including incident date and time, whether reported offenses were attempted or completed, expanded victim types, relationships of victims to offenders and offenses, demographic details, location data, property descriptions, drug types and quantities, the offender’s suspected use of drugs or alcohol, the involvement of gang activity, and whether a computer was used in the commission of the crime.
  • Helps give context to specific crime problems such as drug/narcotics and sex offenses, as well as modern crime issues like animal cruelty, identity theft, and computer hacking.
  • Provides greater analytic flexibility. Through NIBRS, data users can see many more facets of crime, as well as relationships and connections among these facets, than SRS provides.

As recommended by our law enforcement partners and approved by the FBI, the UCR Program is retiring the SRS and will transition to a NIBRS-only data collection by January 1, 2021. Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to start implementing NIBRS now. The FBI remains committed to assisting all agencies in making the switch.

30 Questions and Answers About NIBRS Transition

This document provides answers to common questions people may have about the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s transition from the Summary Reporting System to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) by January 1, 2021.

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