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October 29, 2012

FBI reports crime was down yet again in 2011 (though BJS said it was up)

As reported in this official press release, based on "figures released today by the FBI, the estimated number of violent crimes in 2011 declined for the fifth consecutive year.  Property crimes also decreased, marking the ninth straight year that the collective estimates for these offenses declined." Here is more:

The 2011 statistics show that the estimated volumes of violent and property crimes declined 3.8 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, when compared with the 2010 estimates. The violent crime rate for the year was 386.3 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants (a 4.5 percent decrease from the 2010 rate), and the property crime rate was 2,908.7 offenses per 100,000 persons (a 1.3 percent decrease from the 2010 figure).

These and additional data are presented in the 2011 edition of the FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States [available here]. This publication is a statistical compilation of offense and arrest data reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

The UCR Program collects information on crimes reported by law enforcement agencies regarding the violent crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, as well as the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.  (Although the FBI classifies arson as a property crime, it does not estimate arson data because of variations in the level of participation by the reporting agencies.  Consequently, arson is not included in the property crime estimate.) The program also collects arrest data for the offenses listed above plus 20 additional offenses that include all other crimes except traffic violations.

These data are a bit of a head-scratcher, in part because, as noted in this prior post, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics' annual national crime victimization survey showed an increase in both violent crime and property crime for 2011.  So now I do not know whether to worry about crime going up or to worry about whether we can be sure if crime is going up or going down.

Some related posts on the great modern crime decline: 

October 29, 2012 at 01:20 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Two possible answers.

First, random sampling error in the BJS survey.

Second, an increase in crime in areas where victims are reluctant to contact the police.

It's the second possibility that should give those concerned with crime and related issues substantial concern.

Posted by: tmm | Oct 29, 2012 2:21:51 PM

Agree with tmm that the BJS numbers seemed like quite an outlier - might be a screwy survey sample. I noticed the NCVS changed its sampling methods in 2010-11, which could have something to do with it.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Oct 29, 2012 2:56:38 PM

http://www.brennancenter.org/blog/archives/dont_believe_the_violent_crime_hype/#When:15:12:34Z

Posted by: Dan K | Oct 30, 2012 9:10:44 AM

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