A Critical Review of the Ncvs and Ucr in Criminological Research

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A Critical Review of the NCVS and UCR in Criminological Research Timothy Wayne Johnson, M.S.S. American Military University Dr. Charles Russo Table of Contents Introduction 3 The Basics of the NCVS and UCR 3 Criticisms of the NCVS and UCR 5 Conclusion 7 References 9 Introduction Gauging crime has been a challenge for criminal justice researchers since we have started collecting crime statistics. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system is the most popular crime gauge used by researchers and public officials. However, almost all people who use its data recognize the many boundaries of UCR measurements. Other methods like the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), improve on several characteristics of the UCR but have their own errors and are subject to limited use (Maxfield, 1999). Steven Levitt (1998) points out that the issue of the validity of reported crime statistics is a hotly contested issue. Opinions vary widely on the significance of the problems connected with UCR data. Numerous researchers think that reported crime data is tainted from measurement errors coming from the vast differences in police department reporting in different jurisdictions, technological changes in crime recording and changes in crime reporting by victims ultimately. Even when such issues are present, it doesn’t affect the utilization of reported crime statistics for determining the efficiency of guidelines intended to diminish crime. As long as UCR data remains the only source of geographically disaggregated data on crime, recognizing and calculating the probable causes of policy-related measurement errors in UCR data will be a main focus of research (Levitt, 1998). The purpose of this paper is to only give a very brief overview of the NCVS and the UCR and its problems. The problems of both are so complex a much larger

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