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Uniform Crime Reports

From Academic Kids

The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) are crime indexes, published annually by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which summarize the incidence and rate of reported crimes within the United States. The report is used by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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History of the UCR

In 1930, the United States Congress authorized the Attorney General to survey crime rates, and the FBI was selected as the agency to head the task. The UCR were based upon earlier work by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

UCR indexes

The UCR does not use legal definitions of the crimes it indexes; rather, the defintions are based on an internal FBI classifaction system. Much of the data presented via the UCR is expressed in the form of rates ("23.6 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants of region X", for example).

In Part I, the UCR indexes reported incidents of aggravated assault, arson, burglary, forcible rape, larceny, motor vehicle theft, murder, robbery, and theft. The FBI began recording arson rates, as part of the UCR, in 1979. In Part II, the following categories are indexed: simple assault, curfew offenses and loitering, embezzlement, forgery and counterfeiting, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, drug offenses, fraud, gambling, liquor offenses, offenses against the family, prostitution, public drunkenness, runaways, sex offenses, stolen property, vandalism, vagrancy, and weapons offenses. While Part I is derived from reported crimes, Part II is derived from arrests made. This distinction exists because Part II crimes are generally not reported.

Criticism of the UCR

Critics of the UCR note that they only list reported crimes and is thus, arguably, not useful in learning what the actual crime rates are. Critics note that the index only lists the most serious crime, should a group of crimes be connected; for example, if one was murdered during a car theft. Critics also argue that the index is biased, in that it only lists rapes against women under "forcible rape", and does not list rapes against men, nor does it list same-sex rape. The UCR defines forcible rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will."

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