Description, production, and reporting of UCR
UCR, or Uniform Crime Reports, are a series of important data for police department aimed at tracking the statistics and numerical data that affects the stability and accuracy of crime investigation. The reporting is produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that has been gathering, analyzing, and publishing information since 1930 (The Federal Bureau of Investigation n. p.). It was originally introduced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 1929 due to the emergent need for accurate and credible uniform crime statistics. Currently, the annual publications of UCRs are presented in such periodicals as Crime in the United States. The data for this publication is produced from information provided by about 17,000 law agencies all over the country (The Federal Bureau of Investigation n. p.). It should also be stressed that Crime in the United States is used by the FBI to compile information and crime offences rates for the states, the nation, and the individual agencies.
Special reports, monographs, and studies are prepared with the help of date drawn from the UCR databases. These issues are annually published and produced by different law publications.
Accuracy of reporting and associated problems
Accuracy of UCR reporting is crucial for the FBI because this statistics is recognized as an important measure of controlling crime rates reported to the police department. There are two parts of publications reported to the police. The first one counts such offenses as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, forcible rape, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny-theft (Maxfield and Babbie 99). Other offences connected to arresting and charging people with a crime are involved in Part. The rest of the offences, as a result, are not included, such as vandalism, prostitution, stolen property receiving and simple assault (Maxfield and Babbie 99). The situation means that a great number of crimes are not measured in Uniform Crime Reports, which leads to inaccuracy and inconsistency of information reported to the police department.
Another problem associated with data’s accuracy of UCRs consists in the fact that reporting is not always based on the credible sources of information. The UCR gathers crime details about the offender, the victim, and the circumstance, but for homicide crime only (Regoli and Hewitt 56). The weapon used is also gathered only for robbery, aggravated assault, and murder, but not for forcible rape as well as crimes involving female victims, which is often reported as aggravated assault.
The UCR is guided by hierarchy rule, which implies that a single crime incident where a number of offences are committed, the most serious breach is recorded (Regoli and Hewitt 56). Therefore, it a lawbreaker murders a victim before stealing his or her care, the latest accident fails to be reported by the UCR. This issue also constitutes a great problem for the police and legal system in general because it prevents from recording accurate data.
Manipulating crime statistics in police departments
With regard to the problems associated with accuracy of UCR data, it has been recognized that the reporting system is open to manipulating and tampering carried out by the police department (Vito and Tewsbury 72). Taking into consideration the impacts of victims as well as the actions carried out by the FBI and the police with respect to crime reporting, the reliability and validity of the UCR reporting system is often connected to the kind of crime (Mosher, Hart and Miethe 104). For instance, forcible rape is often ignored and not involved in the statistics due to social pressures put on the victim. Yet, victims are more prone to report about instances of burglaries that are also connected with social disturbances. Therefore, the researchers must analyze in more detail the type of crime before utilizing the UCR data.
Misinterpretation of facts can also be the result of wrong presentation of the UCR data. In particular, the Crime Index does not comprise any information pertaining to white-collar offenses, which distorts the influence of ‘street level’ crime and give wrong impression concerning the gravity of crime in the United States (Vito and Tewksbury 73). Importantly, the Index also creates serious problems with multiple offences because it is often to decide the most serious crime because slight offenses often fail to be recorded to the UCR.
In whole, failure to interpret the information correctly creates more opportunity for the police officer to manipulate the information and, as a result, the justice system may turn out to be corrupted.
Ideas and recommendations on making UCR more accurate
In my opinion, the main problem of inaccuracy of the information delivered through the UCR databases lies in the fact that the majority of crime is wrongly classified by the FBI and the police departments. In this respect, the best solution here is to provide new criteria for detecting and measuring crime rates. This particular concerns the hierarchy rules, which is not justified at all angles. Second, there should be a more careful approach to the crime that are not connected with homicide, but are often neglected by the UCR system. Police agents should pay closer attention to this urgent issue.
Maxfield, Michael, G., and Earl R. Babbie, Basics of Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology. US: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Mosher, Clayton, J., Hart Timothy C., and Terance D. Miethe. The Mismeasure of Crime. US: SAGE, 2010. Print.
Regoli, Robert M., and John D. Hewitt Exploring Criminal Justice: The Essentials. MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2009. Print.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports, n. d. Web.
Vito, Gennaro F., and Richard Tewkbury. Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Method: An Applied Approach. US: Charles C Thomas Publisher, 2008. Print.