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The impact of computers and the Internet not only affects the types of crimes now committed globally, but also greatly impacts how crimes are reported, statistics are gathered, and ultimately how crimes are investigated and prosecuted. In your 400 word minimum initial post, address the following elements:
• Explain the utility of the UCR and NIBRS systems for producing accurate, empirically based data regarding Federal, state and local crime reporting.
• Evaluate the weaknesses in the reporting systems for collecting accurate, timely and significant data.
• Formulate improvements to the reporting systems that might increase data accuracy.
• Predict the future of crime reporting and the relevancy of the UCR and NIBRS.
The goal of reporting systems such as NIBRS is to produce accurate data by enhancing the quantity, quality, and the timeliness of crime data. Accurate and comprehensive data offers law enforcement and other agencies better data for planning, training, management and operations (Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program). Most importantly, since cybercrime is constantly evolving the crime details, and other data can be very helpful for law enforcement to enhance or improve existing or new policing procedures. According to Project 2020 scenarios (International Cyber Security Protection Alliance), most upcoming cyber threats will be an adaptation of already existing crime as technology development throughout the years. Law enforcement needs clear and diligent data to help targets such as individuals, small medium sized enterprises, and corporations from cyber-attacks. Some of the threats that will be present in the future consists of intrusion for monetary or other benefit, interception for espionage, manipulation of information or networks, data destruction, misuse of processing power, counterfeit items and evasion tools and techniques (International Cyber Security Protection Alliance).
The UCR is a database of crimes reported and arrests made each year throughout the United States. Includes crimes reported by the public to the local police and, the amount of arrests made by the police. The FBI utilizes the UCR to tally and publish reported crimes by “city, county, standard metropolitan statistical area, and geographical divisions of the United States for the most serious crimes” (Siegel, 2015, p.32). The FBI calls these serious crimes “Part I crimes,” and it includes “murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson” (Siegel, 2015, p.32). Furthermore, to address unreported crimes, the FBI has provided a nationwide survey, where information comes from individuals and households. Even though the UCR helps in expressing crime data to formulate methods of crime prevention, it is also known for its inaccuracy.
The validity is crucial to express accurate crime data for analysis to help prevent crime. Some crimes may go unreported because victims don’t consider them trivial, mistrust the police, afraid of retaliation, and might be criminals themselves. Human errors can affect the accuracy of data in the UCR, for example; some police department might not pay strict attention to the FBI guidelines, whereas some departments might follow strictly (Siegel, 2015). Bad reporting practices such as not reporting an arrest until a formal charge, is understating the number of arrests since the FBI guidelines call for counting all arrests with our without a formal charge. Some states have broadened their classifications of certain crimes, which can influence reporting practices (Siegel, 2015). Furthermore, according to the “Hierarchy Rule,” in a multiple-offense incident, only the most serious crime is counted (Siegel, 2015, p.32), which means if a criminal commits more than one offense during a string of crimes, the most serious offense is counted, while neglecting all others.
Improvements to the reporting systems such as having users answer more detailed questions may force law enforcement to increase their reporting accuracy. Another aspect to increase data accuracy would be sign offs from superiors on each case entered into the system, therefore there is accountability and increase awareness for accuracy.
Reporting system such as UCR database does provide valuable information for expressing crime. Even though there is a chance of misrepresentation of numbers, analysts can run a thorough analysis of the data available because the data is “collected in a systematic way which makes the data highly reliable for crime patterns and trends” (Siegel, 2015, p.32). Even with misrepresentations, there is a major relevance to help improve criminal procedures and standards. The more data derived and stored in the closer look police organization will have of the causes of crime, trends, and patterns.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. (n.d.). A guide to understanding NIBRS (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/2011/resources/a-guide-to-understanding-nibrs (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA). (n.d.). Project 2020 scenarios for the future of cybercrime – White paper for decision makers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Retrieved from http://2020.trendmicro.com/Project2020.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Siegel, L. J. (2015). Criminology: The core, (5th Edition). [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305848436/
Uniform Crime Report or UCR is a database made by the FBI of crimes that are reported as well as arrests that are made each year in the United States. â€œThe methods used to compile the UCR are quite complex. Each month, law enforcement agencies report the number of crimes reported by victims, by officers who discovered the infractions, or by other sourcesâ€ (Siegel,2014). Each month law enforcement agencies also report the crimes that were cleared. â€œThe UCR uses three methods to express crime data. First, the number of crimes reported to the police and arrests made are expressed as raw figures. Second, crime raters per 100,00- people are computer and third, the FBI computes changes in the number and rate each crime over timeâ€ (Siegel,2014).
The NIBRS or National Incident Based Reporting System is a system that was redesigned from the UCR to â€œprovide more comprehensive and detailed crime statisticsâ€ (Siegel,2014). The NIBRS is a much more better system than the previous system that was in place. â€œNIBRS is capable of producing more detailed, accurate, and meaningful data because data are collected about when and where crime takes place, what form it takes, and the characteristics of its victims and perpetratorsâ€ (Federal,2011).
The reporting systems are not without their weaknesses for collecting accurate, timely and significant data. One weakness would be that the â€œUCR program relies on the good faith reporting of the law enforcement agencies that voluntarily contribute data to the UCR Program via the NIBRSâ€ (Feberal,2011). The law enforcement agencies that are reporting the information could be wrong even though the FBI makes every effort that the data it receives is accurate and valid but there is always human error that happens. The accuracy of the UCR is a weakness due to â€œmany serious crimes are not reported to police and therefore are not counted by the UCRâ€ (Siegel,2014). The way that the FBI records data and counts crimes could be a weakness into not counting all the crimes that took place only the one that is of the more serious offense. â€œIf an armed bank robber commits a robbery, assaults a patron as he flees, steals a car to get away, and damages property during a police chase, only the robbery is reported because it is the most serious offenseâ€ (Siegel,2014).
In improving the systems to ensure the data accuracy would be to report everything and to not leave anything out by reporting all the crimes that happened and not just the serious offenses. Having more agencies trained about NIBRS as well as the funding for the agencies to get will help in contributing to the data accuracy that the systems are having. In the years to come my prediction of UCR and NIBRS will really show the relevancy that these systems are needed due to the information they provide regarding crimes. I think that crime reporting in general will get a lot better in order to deal with the crimes and possibly even prevent a few of them from happening due to the information that was gathered. We have come a long way from what reporting used to be like and I think it will only get better as time goes on.