Comparing the Results of the UCR Program, the NCVS, and Self-Report Measures

There are significant differences between the various crime measures. As just indicated in the previous section, while African Americans are more frequently processed by the criminal justice system, self-report surveys suggest there is no actual difference in the amount of crime engaged in by whites and blacks.

Looking at reported incidents of sexual assault, the UCR Program likely grossly underestimates the number of women who are sexually assaulted. NCVS results suggest that there are perhaps two to three times as many women assaulted than are reported in the UCR Program (Fagin, 2007). Similarly, robbery, aggravated assault, and larceny are all reported by the NCVS at rates two to three times greater than the rates given in UCR data (Fagin, 2007).

Again, according to NCVS findings, an estimated 46% of violent crime was reported to police in 2013, and only 38% of simple assault and 64% of aggravated assault were reported to the police (BJS, 2015).

Reviewing the long-term trends as indicated by both the UCR Program and the NCVS, while there is a great deal of unreported crime, there is congruence between these two important measures of crime when fluctuations in crime are considered. That is, both the UCR Program and NCVS show that crime has declined considerably since 1993, even though NCVS rates of victimization suggest there is much crime that goes unreported. However, both measures indicate the same trends—crime has declined considerably according to both the UCR Program and the NCVS.

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