With the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) officially becoming the standard in 2021, the switch from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Summary Reporting System (SRS) to NIBRS allows patrol officers to more accurately capture and report incident-based details, greatly increasing the analytical capabilities of their agency to identify and address crime issues in their community. The National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X), a partnership between the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), has been helping show how beneficial the transition to NIBRS can be in analyzing crime data, which is demonstrated through two newly released interactive reports.
To provide examples of NIBRS crime data analysis, the interactive reports cover sexual assaults recorded by law enforcement in two different years:
About the Reports
The interactive reports on sexual assaults recorded by law enforcement are based on crime data pulled from agencies who reported to NIBRS during 2019 and 2015. NIBRS is not yet representative of the entire United States; however, in states where NIBRS is the standard for crime data reporting, crime statistics can be accurately extrapolated and analyzed to view what is representative of the state.
The 2015 report shows data from 15 states: Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In 2019, five additional states were added, including Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. To be eligible for the reports, states needed 80 percent or more of law enforcement agencies submitting NIBRS data and more than 90 percent of the state’s total population served by those agencies.
NIBRS was originally designed and implemented to improve the overall quality of crime data collected by law enforcement. Prior to this new reporting style, agencies were aggregating monthly data of nine offenses and only reported information from the most serious crime through the UCR Program’s SRS. This report specifically shows what we can learn from the collected statistics by focusing on one category: sexual assault.
What NIBRS Data Can Show an Agency
The FBI has found that NIBRS explores the collected data further than simply tallying crimes; the system has the ability to not only provide statistics on 52 offenses, but it can also provide circumstances and context for crimes, including location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared. When used to its full potential, NIBRS can also provide greater analytic flexibility (which can be exemplified through this BJS report), resulting in more context to specific crime problems within a community.
The following are from the most up-to-date report, Sexual Assaults Recorded by Law Enforcement, 2019, exemplifying the type of information that can be drawn from an analysis of crime data submitted to NIBRS:
Violent Victimizations That Involved a Sexual Assault
- In Arkansas, “most sexual assaults (88 percent) were against a female victim, while males were the majority (51 percent) of victims of non-sexual violent crimes, such as robbery, aggravated assault, kidnapping, or homicide.”
Characteristics of Sexual Assault Victims and Incidents
- In Montana, “sex offenders used personal weapons, such as hands, fists, feet, arms, or teeth, in 31 percent or more of sexual assault victimizations, regardless of whether the offender was a stranger (60 percent) or someone the victim knew, such as a friend or acquaintance (46 percent) or an intimate partner (31 percent).”
Rates of Sexual Assault Victimization, by Victim Demographics
- In New Hampshire, “teens ages 14 to 17 experienced the highest rate of sexual assault victimization, compared to other age groups. In 2019, police recorded an estimated 405 sexual assaults against persons ages 14 to 17 (635.5 per 100,000), a rate 6 times the overall rate for New Hampshire (111.6).”
Clearance and Arrest
- In Virginia, “at least 52 percent of murder/non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, or kidnapping incidents resulted in an arrest. For sexual assault incidents, 18 percent resulted in an arrest.”
Although NIBRS became the United States’ official law enforcement crime reporting standard on January 1, 2021, law enforcement participation in NIBRS has so far been voluntary. It can provide a myriad of benefits to a jurisdiction, such as solving problem areas that would otherwise go unidentified and receiving grant funding to provide a safer environment for community members.
As the use of NIBRS continues to spread across the United States, the NCS-X team has been working with a select group of 400 agencies that would create a nationally representative sample—once NIBRS certified. As of July 2021, 52 percent of agencies in this representative sample are NIBRS-certified, with more expected in the coming months.
To view how other agencies are analyzing their data (and the solutions they have implemented to resolve concerns within their community), visit https://www.theiacp.org/projects/ncsx.
 Kimberly H. Martin, “Interactive Reports: Sexual Assaults Recorded by Law Enforcement, 2015,” (Bureau of Justice Statistic, Office of Justice Programs, Washington, DC: July 2021). https://bjs.ojp.gov/nibrs/reports/sarble/sarble15
 Kimberly H. Martin, “Interactive Reports: Sexual Assaults Recorded by Law Enforcement, 2019,” (Bureau of Justice Statistic, Office of Justice Programs, Washington, DC: July 2021). https://bjs.ojp.gov/nibrs/reports/sarble/sarble19
 National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), FBI.gov. https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/nibrs