By Jim Kouri
The latest national crime report based on offenses reported to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies released on Monday shows a continuation of the downward trend for both violent and property crimes, according to the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, Crime in the United States 2011, the estimated number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement (1,203,564) decreased for the fifth year in a row, while the estimated number of property crimes reported to law enforcement (9,063,173) decreased for the ninth year in a row.
The South, the most populous region in the country, accounted for 41.3 percent of all violent crimes, while lesser volumes of 22.9 percent were attributed in the West, 19.5 percent in the Midwest, and 16.2 percent in the Northeast.
Aggravated assaults accounted for the highest number of estimated violent crimes reported to law enforcement at 62.4 percent.
Firearms were used in 67.8 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults (data on weapons used during forcible rapes is not collected).
In 2011, 64.8 percent of murder offenses, 41.2 percent of forcible rape offenses, 28.7 percent of robbery offenses, and 56.9 percent of aggravated assault offenses were “cleared,” either by the arrest of a suspect or because circumstances beyond the control of the police prevented an arrest after the suspect was identified such as the death of the suspect.
43.2 percent of the estimated property crimes occurred in the South (followed by the West with 22.8 percent, the Midwest with 21.1 percent, and the Northeast with 13 percent).
Larceny-theft accounted for 68 percent of all property crimes in 2011, while property crimes resulted in estimated losses of $156.6 billion.
Also “cleared” were 21.5 percent of larceny-theft offenses, 12.7 percent of burglary offenses, 11.9 percent of motor vehicle theft offenses, and 18.8 percent of arson offenses.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is one of two statistical programs administered by the Department of Justice that measures the magnitude, nature, and impact of crime, the other is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
While the UCR is based on crimes reported by law enforcement agencies, the crime victimization survey is based on information provided by crime victims who may or may not have reported the offenses to the police.
Both were designed to complement each other, providing valuable information about aspects of the nation’s crime problem, but users should not compare crime trends between the two programs because of methodology and crime coverage differences.
The FBI’s UCR Program is working to complete the automation of its data collection system, which will result in improved data collection efforts with new offense categories and revised offense definitions…as well as a faster turnaround time to analyze and publish the data.
Also, beginning with the 2013 data, the new definition for rape will take effect, and the FBI is developing options for law enforcement agencies to meet this requirement, which will be built into the new data collection system.
For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Because many rapes are facilitated by drugs or alcohol, the new definition recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol. Similarly, a victim may be legally incapable of consent because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with individual state statutes. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent.