Strengths and Drawbacks of the NCVS

The major strength of the NCVS is that it provides a more accurate estimate of the actual number of crimes that take place in the United States than does the UCR Program. In addition, the NCVS lets us know about crimes that go unreported to the police, and also, it is a rich source of information about criminal victimization.

However, there are flaws in the NCVS—just as there are in the UCR Program and all other forms of crime data collection. For instance, it does not include commercial crime and white-collar crime. Furthermore, it does not cover crimes whose victims are under 12 years of age. There could also be inaccuracy if respondents have forgotten about a victimization, or they choose to avoid telling the interviewer about a victimization because of embarrassment in talking about a crime or fear of getting into trouble, or simply because they choose to remain silent about an incident.

Finally, there could be sampling errors, or the question format may not produce valid answers for some people, especially adolescents.

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