National Incident-Based Reporting System: Using NIBRS Data To Understand Victimization
The online version is available at: https://www.ovc.gov/pubs/NIBRS/

Introduction

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is a system for recording crimes known to the police. For each crime incident coming to the attention of law enforcement, a variety of data are collected and submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), such as the nature and types of specific offenses committed during the incident, characteristics of the victim(s), and information about the offender(s) and any other persons arrested in connection with the incident.

A major finding of the Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report is that crime victim services must be designed with a clear understanding of who is being victimized and by whom. The report recommends expanding the use of NIBRS to enhance police records of crimes, victims, and police responses to victimization. A growing number of law enforcement agencies already report crime to NIBRS, which is good news for the victim services community. Local data about crime victims and those who commit crimes against them can be instrumental in providing sound reasoning to justify and deploy scarce resources, fine-tune training programs, and support targeted research. The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI are working together to expand participation in NIBRS.

However, while a number of states (15) have complete NIBRS coverage, the lack of nationally representative data substantially impedes federal efforts to assist states and localities with crime control and undermines state and local abilities to consider their crime experiences in a broader national context. This e-bulletin describes how victim service providers can use NIBRS to gain a better understanding of specific types of victimization, determine disparities between victims known to law enforcement and those receiving victim services, and identify underserved groups of crime victims.

Use the pull-down menu above to learn more about benefits NIBRS offers to victim service providers that can help them improve their service to crime victims. This information is based on data from NIBRS for the 15 states currently reporting to the system.

Does your local law enforcement agency report NIBRS data?

NIBRS Reporting States At a Glance

NIBRS Reporting States At a Glance

15 states (Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia) submit all their crime data via NIBRS.

Source: www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/2012/resources/nibrs-participation-by-state

NIBRS data also offer important details about bias-motivated offenses.

Message from the Director

As this year marks the 5-year anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, we are reminded of the importance of continuing to study the incidence of hate crimes in America. To do so, it is critical that law enforcement agencies capture as much detail as they can about the victim, offender, offense, and other key elements of these heinous acts.

Such comprehensive statistics concerning bias-motivated offenses—and all types of crime—are collected by state and local law enforcement agencies that use the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Examining data provided through these detailed categories allows police agencies to gain a deeper understanding of how to prevent and respond to hate crimes and other acts of violence. This level of detail allows for a much broader understanding of the incident rates and prevalence of crime than statistics captured through other reporting systems, and enables victim service organizations to gain a clearer and more meaningful picture of crimes in communities.

This e-bulletin describes how victim service organizations can use crime data to understand victimization. It explains how victim service providers can use NIBRS statistics to analyze categories and subcategories of crime, determine gaps between victims known to law enforcement and individuals receiving victim services, and identify victim populations that need additional support.

Unfortunately, NIBRS data covers only 28 percent of the U.S. population, as only 15 states submit crime data entirely via this reporting system. The Office for Victims of Crime has provided funding to the Bureau of Justice Statistics to increase the number of states and local jurisdictions that report data using NIBRS. It is our hope that the expansion of the use of NIBRS will yield a more precise picture of crime and victimization nationally—who is victimized, by what crimes, and by whom.

We hope that you find this e-bulletin to be a helpful resource for using NIBRS data to understand victimization more fully. By using analysis of NIBRS’ comprehensive victim, offense, and offender data to design your service programs, we hope you can continue to develop effective practices and solutions for victims as they rebuild their lives.

Joye E. Frost

Director

Office for Victims of Crime

1. A Broad Range of Crime Data

Crimes Reported to NIBRS
1. Arson 12. Homicide offenses—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, justifiable homicide
2. Assault offenses—aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation 13. Kidnaping/abduction
3. Bribery 14. Larceny/theft offenses—pickpocketing, purse-snatching, shoplifting, theft from building, theft from coin-operated machine or device, theft from motor vehicle, theft of motor vehicle parts or accessories, all other larceny
4. Burglary/breaking and entering 15. Motor vehicle theft
5. Counterfeiting/forgery 16. Pornography/obscene material
6. Destruction/damage/vandalism of property 17. Prostitution offenses—prostitution, assisting or promoting prostitution
7. Drug/narcotic offenses—drug/narcotic violations, drug equipment violations 18. Robbery
8. Embezzlement 19. Sex offenses, forcible—rape, sodomy, fondling, sexual assault with an object
9. Extortion/blackmail 20. Sex offenses, non-forcible—incest, statutory rape
10. Fraud offenses—false pretenses/swindle/confidence game, credit card/automatic teller machine fraud, impersonation, welfare fraud, wire fraud 21. Stolen property offenses—receiving, etc.
11. Gambling offenses—betting/wagering, operating/promoting/assisting gambling, gambling equipment violations, sports tampering 22. Weapon law violations
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Incident-Based Reporting System, 2009–2011, data from 15 complete reporting states

Reported Crime Incident Data. Unified Crime Report: 8 categories of crime, NIBRS: 22 categories of crime.The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) traditional Uniform Crime Report includes data on incidents of eight Part 1 Index Crimes (murder, aggravated assault, forcible rape, robbery, motor vehicle theft, burglary, larceny/theft, and arson), and arrests for other offenses. Reporting only a subset of crimes limits the information available to service providers and can skew the real picture of crime and victimization in a community. In contrast, NIBRS provides comprehensive incident data on 22 categories of crime (see table), which are further classified into 46 offenses. By using this wide range of reported data, states and localities can better identify underserved victims and provide targeted training for victim services providers. The FBI also maintains NIBRS.

NIBRS reports the age of the victims, the time of day of the offense, clearance rates of offenses, and information regarding the use of weapons in violent crimes. This provides critical data for communities committed to understanding and addressing issues of crime and victimization. NIBRS also reports information on the place where the incident occurred, such as the type of location (e.g., home, field, work, school, bar/nightclub); the city, county, and state of jurisdiction; and the population served by the jurisdiction’s police agency. This allows researchers to link NIBRS incidents to city-, county-, and state-level information from other official statistics.

2. Victimization Data Categorized by Age and Type of Crime

Patterns of Violent Victimization, by Age, NIBRS 2011 /a
Victim Age in Years All violent victimizations Violent rape/sexual assault/b Intimate partner violence/c Non-intimate family violence/d
    Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Juvenile          
    0-6 2.0 16.2 -- 7.4
    7-11 2.6 14.7 -- 6.3
    12-17 11.3 32.8 2.0 15.6
Adult          
    18-24 23.0 15.3 26.4 16.1
    25-34 24.3 9.8 34.5 13.6
    35-49 23.7 7.0 28.9 22.8
    50-64 9.8 2.3 7.5 13.6
    65 and older 1.9 .7 .8 3.9
/a
Information for victim age was unknown for 11,136 (1.4%) of victimizations.
/b
Out of victimizations where most serious offense was rape or sexual assault.
/c Children under the age of 12 were excluded from this analysis.
/d Includes victimizations where non-intimate family was closest relationship present in incident.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Incident-Based Reporting System, 2011, data from 15 complete reporting states

Victims of Intimate Partner Violence, by Age.NIBRS can generate a comprehensive, more meaningful picture of crime in a community by providing information on specific types of crime (e.g., violent rape, sexual assault), the relationship of victim to offender (e.g., intimate partner violence, non-intimate family violence), and the victim’s age. This information is valuable to victim services programs that want to tailor their outreach efforts to particular age groups and provide specific services based on this information.

The table above illustrates some of the data that NIBRS collects on patterns of victimization, including age group, relationship, and crime, which can help service providers enhance their response to victims. In 2011, of all violent crime victimizations reported to law enforcement1, 2 percent of the victims were 6 years old or younger, 2.6 percent were 7 to 11 years old, and 11.3 percent were 12 to 17 years old. However, these age groups were victims in 16.2 percent, 14.7 percent, and 32.8 percent of all violent rapes and sexual assaults, respectively. Such a disparity should direct providers to adapt their services to target specific age groups.

This data is also critical for service providers who serve victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. Adults ages 18 to 49 account for 90 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence. By comparing their clients’ data to the local law enforcement agency’s NIBRS data, service providers can identify unserved or underserved victims by age and type of victimization.

The Uniform Crime Report does not provide information on the ages of crime victims and offenders, while the National Crime Victimization Survey does not survey anyone under 12 years old. Age-related information is crucial to ensuring that victims receive the services they need.

3. Data on Victim-Offender Relationships

Female Victims of Aggravated Assault, by Victim Age and Relationship of Victim to Offender 2011
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Incident-Based Reporting System, 2011, data from 15 complete reporting states

Primary Perpetrators of Sexual Assault Against Females, by Victim Age.The victim services field has traditionally relied on both the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to estimate the extent of family violence in the United States. NIBRS data goes further than the UCR in complementing NCVS data because it reports both simple and aggravated assaults, the age of the victims, and the victim-offender relationship. This will give communities a more complete and comprehensive picture of family violence (e.g., simple/aggravated assault by non-intimate family member or intimate partner).

The proportion of aggravated assaults of females1 that involve strangers versus a known offender is comparatively low (less than 15 percent), regardless of the age of the victim. More than half of the aggravated assaults on young females under age 10 are committed by non-intimate family members. No other age group experiences a higher proportion of aggravated assaults at the hands of family members. The proportion of aggravated assaults that are committed by family members declines after age 12, with friends and acquaintances committing the majority of aggravated assaults against females until age 20.

At age 20, a noticeable shift occurs in the types of aggravated assaults women experience. From age 20 until age 56, the most common type of aggravated assault female victims experience is assault by an intimate partner. Female victims in this age group experience relatively fewer aggravated assaults at the hands of strangers and non-intimate family members.

Using this information, service providers can intervene early in family violence cases that involve child victims (most likely physical abuse). Many times in intimate partner relationships, simple assault can lead to aggravated assault. Law enforcement and service providers can use this data to implement policies and strategies to prevent aggravated assaults before they occur.

4. Information on the Timing of Victimizations

Bar chart showing Sexual Victimizations, by Victim Age and Time of Day, 2011
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Incident-Based Reporting System, 2011, data from 15 complete reporting states

Peak hours of incidence of sexual victimizations of children under age 18.NIBRS data includes information about the time when the victimization occurred. It also allows for comparisons between when the victimization took place and other variables such as the victim’s age. The figure above plots the ages of sexual assault victims against the time of day when their sexual victimization occurred. For all sexual victimizations reported to NIBRS in 2011,1 there are distinct time periods when the majority of children and adults are victimized. For children under age 18, more than 57 percent of violent sexual assaults took place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., with peaks occurring around possible meal or snack times (8 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m.) After 4 p.m., the frequency of violent sexual assaults of juveniles steadily declined. For adults (age 18 and over), time periods of peak victimization were between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. By using the data that NIBRS provides regarding victim age, time of victimization, and type of crime, victim service providers and law enforcement officers can develop effective strategies for responding to and preventing these crimes.

More data leads to more research, which leads to more effective tools to help law enforcement better serve victims of crime.

5. Data on Victimizations Involving Weapons

Serious Violent Victimization by an Intimate Partner Known to Law Enforcement, by Type of Weapon Involved, 2009-2011

The majority of sexual assaults, rapes, and robberies reported to law enforcement did not involve a weapon.Service providers can also use NIBRS data to better understand the dynamics of crimes committed with weapons, discredit myths about weapons and violent crime, and tailor their outreach to and interactions with victims and community members.

The figure above identifies which intimate partner crimes are more likely to involve a weapon. The intimate partner crime most likely to involve a weapon is murder. Of all intimate partner murders committed between 2009 and 2011, 56.2 percent involved a firearm of some type. In contrast, rape and sexual assault were least likely to involve a weapon. Despite a common misconception that the majority of rapes involve a weapon, nearly 90 percent of sexual assaults and rapes reported to law enforcement did not involve a weapon.

Individuals who are victimized by someone they know or are victimized without the use of a weapon may feel that the victimization was their fault or that they should have been able to better defend themselves against the perpetrator. Knowing this—through information available from NIBRS—service providers can help victims understand that they are not alone and not at fault, regardless of whether or not a weapon was used.

6. Data on Co-occurring Victimizations in a Single Incident

Victims of Violence Who Experienced a Co-Occurring Victimization, by Sex, Race, and Age of Victim, 2011

Frequency of Victims of Violent Crime Experiencing Co-Occurring OffensesWhereas the Uniform Crime Report provides statistics on a hierarchal scale, reporting only the most serious offense committed in a single incident, NIBRS includes information about each of the offenses (up to 10) that occur within a single incident. As a result, victim service providers can use NIBRS data to identify how often and under what circumstances certain offenses occur together (e.g., robbery and rape).

The frequency with which male and female crime victims experience a co-occurring victimization is similar, as is the frequency with which whites, blacks, and victims of other races experience a co-occurring victimization. The figure above illustrates that the frequency of co-occurring victimizations is lower for juveniles than adult victims of violent crime. The frequency with which victims of violent crime experience a co-occurring offense is lowest for victims ages 12 to 17, and nearly doubles to 11.8 percent for victims between the ages of 18 and 24. Providers can enhance their services by using NIBRS data to identify incident-based poly-victims (i.e., those who are victimized by multiple types of crimes).

When law enforcement agencies report NIBRS data, community service providers and researchers can examine complex relationships in crime, victimization, and arrest practices by relying on an expanded range of variables.

7. Data on Case Clearances

Clearance of Violent Crime Incidents, by Type of Offense, NIBRS, 2011
          Percent of cleared cases that resulted in—
    Percent of incidents—   Exceptional clearance due to—
Most serious violent offense/a Total Not cleared Cleared Total Arrest Declined prosecution Victim refusal to cooperate Other reason/b
Murder/non-negligent manslaughter 100% 43.9 56.1 100% 91.4 1.1 0 7.4
Rape/sexual assault 100% 65.5 34.5 100% 59.2 25.5 13.8 1.5
Robbery 100% 75.4 24.6 100% 84.8 5.3 9.6 0.4
Aggravated assault 100% 47.5 52.5 100% 86.0 5.2 8.3 0.5
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Incident-Based Reporting System, 2011, data from 15 complete reporting states

35% of Rape and Sexual Assault Cases Were Cleared.The traditional Uniform Crime Report collects almost no data on the details of criminal incidents. NIBRS overcomes this limitation by collecting arrest information as well as information regarding victim demographics (e.g., age, sex, race, ethnicity, relationship to offender), the offense(s) that occurred, offender(s), weapon used, property stolen, and other variables. Through NIBRS, law enforcement officers can track cases and update their files any time NIBRS receives new information (e.g., when an arrest is made, regardless of how long ago the victimization occurred). NIBRS also can provide data on case clearance rates for specific crimes.

As shown in the table above, only 24.6 percent of robberies were cleared, whereas 91.4 percent of murder/non-negligent manslaughter cases were cleared.1, 2 The table also provides information on how cases were cleared. For example, of the 34.5 percent of rape and sexual assault cases that were cleared, 25.5 percent were due to declined prosecution. In contrast, of the 52.5 percent of aggravated assault cases that were cleared, prosecution declined only 5.2 percent of cases. Of the 34.5 percent of rape and sexual assault cases that were cleared, 59.2 percent were due to arrest and 13.8 percent were due to victims refusing to cooperate. Victim refusal to cooperate accounted for only 8.3 percent of cleared aggravated assault cases. Service providers and law enforcement can use this data for accountability purposes and self-assessment.

8. A More Complete Picture of Crime and Victimization

Victim Offender Relationship Probabilities in an Average 1,000 Violent Sexual Assault Victimizations Known to Law Enforcement, by Offense Location, Offender Age, and Victim Age, 2011
    Female victims of sexual violence age 11 or younger victimized by a—
    All offenders Intimate partner Other family member Friend or acquaintance Stranger
Location: Residence Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside
All offenders 843 157 -- -- 541 50 293 97 9 10
Age 7 to 17 315 71 -- -- 188 14 124 54 2 2
  18 to 24 99 13 -- -- 60 6 37 6 2 1
  25 to 34 174 28 -- -- 123 14 49 12 1 2
  35 to 49 155 24 -- -- 104 10 50 12 2 3
  50 or older 101 20 -- -- 66 6 34 12 1 2
    Female victims of sexual violence age 12 to 17 victimized by a—
    All offenders Intimate partner Other family member Friend or acquaintance Stranger
Location: Residence Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside
All offenders 678 322 65 23 223 23 371 246 19 30
Age 7 to 17 170 150 28 10 34 2 106 132 3 6
  18 to 24 208 84 33 11 32 3 135 61 8 8
  25 to 34 107 37 3 2 42 6 57 23 5 6
  35 to 49 137 33 1 0 81 9 52 18 2 6
  50 or older 56 17 0 0 34 3 21 10 1 4
    Female victims of sexual violence age 18 to 24 victimized by a—
    All offenders Intimate partner Other family member Friend or acquaintance Stranger
Location: Residence Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside
All offenders 635 365 88 23 74 9 424 235 50 98
Age 7 to 17 20 15 1 0 2 1 15 10 1 4
  18 to 24 261 129 45 12 8 1 188 88 19 28
  25 to 34 186 106 32 9 14 1 121 62 19 33
  35 to 49 116 82 8 1 32 4 70 51 7 26
  50 or older 52 32 1 0 17 2 30 23 4 7
    Female victims of sexual violence age 25 or older victimized by a—
    All offenders Intimate partner Other family member Friend or acquaintance Stranger
Location: Residence Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside Inside Outside
All offenders 657 343 167 26 54 8 379 192 57 116
Age 7 to 17 10 11 0 0 3 1 4 6 3 4
  18 to 24 57 35 7 2 3 0 35 15 12 19
  25 to 34 186 105 56 10 8 1 105 52 18 43
  35 to 49 266 114 82 11 15 3 150 67 19 34
  50 or older 138 78 23 4 25 4 85 53 5 17

Note:  Shaded cells indicate the locations, offender ages, and victim-offender relationships that made up at least half (50%) of the sexual assault victimizations of female victims. Detail may not sum to 100% due to rounding. "Residence" does not include incidents that occurred in a hotel or motel; "nonresidence" includes incidents that occurred in public places, commercial businesses and buildings, and locations classified as "other/unknown."

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Incident Based Reporting System, 2011.

Nearly two-thirds of the sexual assaults perpetrated against females age 18 or older occurred inside a residence. Outdoors 35%, Indoors 65%.Of the sexual violence cases reported to NIBRS in 2011, most incidents of sexual violence perpetrated against female victims occurred behind closed doors inside a residence and were committed by someone known to the victim, regardless of the victim’s age. Depending on the victim’s age, however, different patterns were found regarding the age of the offender and the relationship of the victim to the offender.

Among female victims of sexual violence age 11 or younger, more than half of the sexual violence occurred inside a residence and was perpetrated by a non-intimate family member or a friend or acquaintance. Offenders who perpetrated sexual violence against these young girls were often juveniles themselves, or were between the ages of 25 and 49. Older juvenile and young adult female victims of sexual assault were more likely to be victimized by a friend or acquaintance than any other type of offender, regardless of location. Offenders involved in sexual violence against female victims age 25 or older were typically older than 25. More than half of all sexual violence among females age 25 or older was perpetrated by an intimate partner or a friend or acquaintance of the victim and occurred inside a residence.

Victim service providers can use NIBRS data to identify patterns of crime and victimization that can justify the need for additional resources and guide decisions on optimal resource development.

1In the 15 fully reporting NIBRS states.

2Law enforcement agencies reporting crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigation can clear, or "close," the offenses in one of two ways: by arrest or by exceptional means. www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/clearances

The online version is available at: https://www.ovc.gov/pubs/NIBRS/