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Murder vs Homicide, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Details Compare and contrast the two primary crime data sources used in the United States. Focus on methodological procedures and implications

Introduction

Measurement of crime in The US emanates mainly from two data sources. For over 70 years now, FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is the first data source that has been used to collect information of the crimes recorded by police and the arrests made in state and local jurisdictions throughout the country. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the second data source. NCVS is basically a survey of the general population specially designed to expose the nature, extent and consequences of the criminal victimization in the US. This survey has been conducted annually ever since 1973. This paper shows how both UCR and NCVS programs are alike in many areas and complimenting in data provision. Based on government publications on crime measurement, this paper concludes that the main difference between UCR and NCVS is in the methodologies used and the target data aimed at (Butterfield, 2001).

The United States Department of Justice rigorously administers these two statistical programs as the measurements of nature, magnitude and impact of the crime rate in the US. Both the UCR Program and the NCVS produce valuable information indicative of trends and patterns of crime in US today. Important to note here is that the UCR and the NCVS programs have different objective purposes, utilize different methodologies and exclusively focus on differing aspects of crime (Schmalleger, 2007). The information produced by either helps to compliment the other, thus providing comprehensive data than either of them could otherwise produce alone.

Uniform Crime Reports

A program of the FBI, UCR began in 1929 with the objective of collecting information on such crimes reports as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny-theft. These crime reports are received by the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and are complimented by arrest reports for 21 more crime categories (Pepper & Petrie, 2003). Monthly reports constituting individual crime incidents are recorded and transmitted to the FBI central portal via the state administration. Once received, each report is thoroughly examined for accuracy reasonableness and deviations indicative of errors. By 2004, active UCR Program law enforcement agencies represented 277 million Americans (94.2% of the total US population) (Mantle, 2005). UCR is able to tally comparable and research-informing crime counts for regions, states, counties, towns, cities, etc. The analyzed reports are published annually in the ‘Crime in the United States’ report.

National Crime Victimization Survey

A program of the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCVS was initiated in 1973 as a population survey that provides detailed data about crime incidents, crime victims and crime trends in the US. It’s an intensive methodological redesign modified in 1993 to allow easy the research uncover crime, update survey methodologies and broaden the crime scope. Most importantly, the survey gives information on nature and frequency of such crimes as personal robbery, rape, sexual assault, aggravated and simple assault, theft and motor vehicle theft and also household burglary. Worth of note is that NCVS doesn’t measure commercial crimes and homicides (Mantle, 2005). The bi-annual survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census interviews a representative study sample of 43,000 households (76,000 people), with each households staying in the sample for at least 3 years on an ongoing rotation basis. The NCVS findings are published by annual BJS bulletins in Criminal Victimization in the United States.

Differences

NCVS is a survey with a study sample that allows results to be generalized for the entire US population. This introduces an element of error, bias and variation. UCR on the other hand is a collection of hard facts without bias, error or variation. Secondly, NCVS collects data that are more comprehensive on crime since it also records information of crimes suffered by US nationals and residents, some of which were never reported to law enforcement agencies. UCR on the other hand relies on crime reports gathered by the law enforcement agencies.

Thirdly, UCR covers most of crime aspects including murder and homicide while NCVS never covers murders and homicides (Farrell, 2005). Fourthly, when it comes to rape, UCR measures its occurrence as a crime against women only while NCVS measures the occurrences as crimes against both the sexes. The two programs calculate crime rates differently. UCR rates are based on number of crimes per 100,000 persons while NCVS rates are based on number of crimes per 1,000 households. Further, while UCR analyses crime from a legal point of view, NCVS includes a human element into the findings such as reasons why victims reported or failed to report crimes to law enforcement agencies. The survey also includes three types of information namely, the victim’s race, age, sex, ethnicity, income, marital status, educational level etc. Secondly, the offender’s sex; age, race, victim-offender relationship etc. Thirdly, the crime’s time, place of occurrence, weapons use, nature of injury, economic consequences etc.

Comparing UCR and NCVS

BJS designed NCVS as a complement program for the UCR. For this reason, the two programs have numerous similarities (Schmalleger, 2007). Although differing in data collection methods, both programs measure a similar subset of serious crimes committed in the US, defined alike for both. The two programs cover robbery, rape, aggravated assault, theft, motor vehicle theft and burglary. Theft, rape, robbery and motor vehicle theft have been defined identically by both. Except for burglary, both have similar definitions most of crimes. The results garnered from each help to compare crime rates and trends between regions and periods (Farrell, 2005).

Conclusion

As the paper has detailed, a comparison and contrast of UCR and NCVS reveals some two very essential facts. First, it is important to conceptualize that the differences between UCR and NCVS are mainly as a result from the differences of their intent and purposes each was created for.  UCR’s primary objective was provision of a reliable source of criminal justice statistics usable by law enforcement administration, management and operation. The NCVS was meant to provide hitherto unavailable information on reported and non-reported crime from victims and offenders themselves. With this difference of purpose, it is straightforward to see why the two programs differ in methodology and scope (Butterfield, 2001). On the other hand, the NCVS was created to compliment the UCR and thus the numerous similarities and agreements of the two programs especially when it comes to overlapping measures of particular crimes (Butterfield, 2001).

References

Butterfield, F. (2001). Victim Poll on Violent Crime Finds 15% Drop Last Year. Journal of Statistics Education. Volume 9 (3). Pp. 11. Also Available at <www.stats.org/statswork/crime-washpost.htm>

Farrell, F. et al. (2005). Of Targets and Supertargets: A Routine Activity Theory of High Crime Rates. Internet Journal of Criminology, Vol 13 (9) pp. 31-33. Also available at <http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Farrell,%20Clark,%20Ellingworth%20&%20Pease%20-%20Supertargets.pdf>

Mantle, G. et al. (2005). Restorative Justice and Three Individual Theories of Crime. Internet Journal of Criminology. Vol. 13 (9) pp. 17-21. Also available at <http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Mantle,%20Fox%20&%20Dhami%20-%20Restorative%20Justice.pdf>

Pepper, J. & Petrie, C. (2003). Measurement Problems in Criminal Justice Research: Workshop

Summary (2003). Journal Article. Accessed on 21 March 2010. From <http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10581&page=1>

Schmalleger, F. (2007). Criminology Today: An integrative Introduction. New York: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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