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NATIONAL UCR REPORTING SYSTEM
During the 1920s the members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police formed the Committee on Uniform Crime Reporting with the intent to develop a standardized system of police statistics.
After much studying of state criminal codes nationwide and the methods of bookkeeping, the committee completed a reporting plan which identified seven basic offense definitions and data requirements.
In January of 1930, 400 cities representing 20 million inhabitants in 43 states began participating in the UCR program. In that same year Congress authorized the Attorney General to gather crime information. He in turn designated the FBI to serve as the national clearinghouse for the collection of crime statistics.
Since that time the FBI has continued to serve as the coordinator for the UCR program, which has since grown to a system representing over 16,000 municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention.
The National Sheriffs Association in June of 1966 established a Committee on UCR, serving in joint capacity with the IACP UCR committee in an advisory capacity, to encourage sheriffs throughout the country to participate in UCR. In 1979 a congressional mandate made Arson the eighth Part I Index offense in the UCR program.
For over 62 years the UCR program virtually remained unchanged in terms of the amount and type of data collected and disseminated. By the 1980s it had become obvious the nature of modern-day law enforcement had outstripped the utilization of UCR system and was in need of a thorough evaluation.
Commencing in 1982 the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) began a joint venture to formulate a phased-in redesign effort intent upon meeting the needs of law enforcement into the 21st century. Utilizing the services of Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the joint steering committee produced a draft report entitled Blueprint for the Future of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
Based on the recommendations of their 1985 report, the FBI and BJS have proceeded to implement significant revisions to the UCR system to include:
The major point of revision is the change from a summary-based reporting program to incident-based reporting where information on each offense, offender, victim, and arrestee is linked by a common incident number.
Based on the success of a pilot project in South Carolina, the FBI released the final data elements and offense specifications in July, 1988. At that time various state programs commenced a careful implementation of the enhanced program, now known as the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
Due to the increased reporting requirements of the new program, the FBI is encouraging a phased-in transition where law enforcement agencies will be able to adopt the new program as they acquire the data-processing capabilities. It is anticipated that many states will be operating a dual collection program with some departments reporting under summary-based guidelines while others with automated records systems will make a quick transition.
The Maine UCR Program started July 15, 1973, as a module of the Comprehensive Data System Program. It was originally funded by LEAA Discretionary Grant No. 74-DF-01-0001 to the Maine Criminal Justice Planning and Assistance Agency with the State Bureau of Identification, Bureau of State Police, as the implementing subgrantee.
One year was spent researching and developing the reporting system. The staff was selected, the project researched; a manual was designed and printed; 250 people were trained in regional seminars; standard arrest sheets and complaint sheets were developed; all reporting forms were designed and printed; staff visits to all operational departments were made; and all objectives of the original grant were completed.
On July 1, 1974, the Maine UCR system was certified as operational by Director Clarence Kelly of the FBI, and Maine became the 22nd state to have a Uniform Crime Reporting System. Most states now have state-level Uniform Crime Reporting systems acting as effective intermediaries between the FBI and local contributors.
The success of this program is directly related to the interest and cooperation of the Maine contributors. Indicative of the cooperation is a 100 percent reporting record for all communities with organized departments, the county sheriffs departments, who are reporting 100 percent, and the state police by county areas. The result is a complete statewide coverage of crime statistics under supervised rules and controls to insure the integrity of the program.
Crime in Maine July-December, 1974 was our first publication. All publications have been well received, and the accumulated information becomes more valuable and widely used each year.
Due to problems of abuse and domestic violence between family or household members, the 109th Maine Legislature enacted a law entitled an Act Concerning Abuse between Household and Family Members. The law, Chapter 578 of the Public Laws of 1979, mandates the reporting of domestic violence data by law enforcement agencies and the collection of such data (Title 19, ß 770 ) by the Uniform Crime Reporting Unit, State Bureau of Identification, Department of Public Safety.
Commencing January 1, 1992, Maine law enforcement agencies began collecting and reporting Hate/Bias crimes as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting System. Reporting is via the submission of specialized supplemental report forms which capture detailed information concerning the offense(s), victim and offender, and circumstances surrounding the incident.
The State Fire Marshals Office has continued direct reporting of arson incidents via the monthly UCR report forms. This effort helped to validate the complete and accurate reporting of all arsons as identified by law enforcement agencies each month.
Statistics gathered under the Uniform Crime Reporting Program are submitted by the law enforcement agencies of Maine and represent a spectrum of Maine crime on statewide, regional, and county levels. Awareness of the presence of certain crime statistics presented is necessary if fair and equitable conclusions are to be drawn. These crime-influencing factors are present, to some degree, in every community and their presence affects, in varying degrees, the crime developments of the community. Comparison of crime figures between communities should not be made without first considering the individual factors present in each community.
Crime, as an outgrowth of society, remains a social problem of grave concern and the police are limited in their role as to its suppression and detection, as stated by the Presidents Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice in their report the Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (1967 - Page 92):
But the fact that the police deal daily with crime does not mean that they have unlimited power to prevent, reduce, or deter it. The police did not create and cannot resolve the social conditions that stimulate crime. They did not start and cannot stop the convulsive social changes that are taking place in America. They do not enact the laws that they are required to enforce, nor do they dispose of the criminals they arrest. The police are only one part of the criminal justice system; the government is only one part of society. Insofar as crime is a social phenomenon, crime prevention is the responsibility of every part of society. The criminal process is limited to case by case operations, one criminal or one crime at a time
Set forth below are some of the conditions which will, by type and volume, affect the crime that occurs from place to place:
The main goal of this program is to identify crime and related problems. The statistics in this publication should not be used to measure or evaluate the workloads and results of the individual contributing departments. While most police agencies are collectively thought of as crime-fighting units, considerable independent research shows only a small portion of the workload of many departments is spent fighting crime. Because of other assigned duties, the peculiar cycle of crime and clearances, and the different community factors that normally affect crime statistics, no conclusions on individual departments should be reached without consulting their in-house duties and records.
Crime rates in this publication are based on the stable population of the community. Seasonal population figures are too inaccurate and fluctuating to be used as a measurement for determining crime rates. Communities with extra high seasonal populations may show a higher crime rate per thousand than might be normal for a community their size.
This should not impair the ability of the police administrator from using this standard measure for planning and administrative purposes as data is available to him on a monthly basis and months of population influx can be taken into consideration.
The Maine program was unique from the beginning, as it was dedicated to doing more than just gathering statistics. The program received national recognition when individual monthly crime profiles were developed by computer for all contributors. These crime profiles set the stage for extensive use of the data by police administrators and other criminal justice agencies.
This brings us to the question - what good are Uniform Crime reports and how may they be used? The initial thought response is limited, but as the information unfolds many various uses are revealed. Foremost is keeping the public informed as to the volume and nature of crime so they may judge and act accordingly.
Actually, UCR is a many-faceted vehicle with many varied uses. Here are a few, but by no means all, of the possible uses as they relate to various groups and agencies.
Administrative information relating to:
1. Budget - need and justification.
2. Staffing - number needed as to state average employees vs. population and crime rate.
3. Department makeup - Laboratory, Detective Division, Juvenile Officers, as related to particular crime problems in the community.
4. Problem crimes identified.
5. Disbursement of personnel and shifts according to the crime picture of the individual communities. In cases of State Police and sheriffs with concurrent jurisdiction, placement according to need and avoiding duplication of services.
6. Training needs - training according to crime problems in the areas of priority.
7. Equipment purchase - according to justified need.
8. Selective enforcement by crime volume as identified by particular times and seasons through UCR information.
9. Community crime profiles identifying particular problems.
10. Long-range planning as anticipated by crime trends.
II. Governor and Legislature
1. Broad true picture of crime in Maine by location, volume, type and crime rate as derived from records of all enforcement agencies.
2. Guide to valid funding needs of special-interest groups and their requests for same.
3. Need for additional or less specialized type programs.
4. Identification of crime trends and their relation to training, courts, corrections and other criminal justice agencies.
5. Identification of various social problems relating to drugs, alcohol, juveniles and rehabilitation.
6. Effectiveness of various social programs relating to the above.
III. Courts - prosecution
1. Valuable general research information in crimes within the areas being served.
2. Crime trend information
3. Identifies problem crimes to be considered in the prosecution or judicial process.
A factual source for use in reporting crime problems and socially related problems.
V. Social Agencies
1. Identifies problem areas on which to concentrate.
2. Some basis for general evaluating of the effectiveness of their programs.
VI. Educational Institutions (for various studies)
These are but a few possible uses, and surely many more exist. The broader the base data accumulated, the clearer the value of UCR will become. If effective problem-solving begins with the identification of the problem, then UCR will continue to be meaningful for years to come.
Interestingly enough, the by-products of a Maine UCR system have proven nearly as valuable as the information obtained from it.
It has served as a catalyst for many departments to set up realistic record systems for the first time and to institute upgrading of records in many others.
Administrators on the Chief and City Manager level have been taking a new look at their police departments, and as a result internal operational changes have taken place.
An awareness among subordinate personnel that their reports and arrests are being used, and not just filed, has resulted in better and more comprehensive reporting.
Finally, the periodic release of this crime information to the general public keeps the crime problem in its proper perspective.
OBJECTIVES OF UCR
The fundamental objective of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program is to produce a reliable set of criminal statistics on a state and national basis for use in law enforcement administration, operation and management. This compiled data is also intended for the use of other professionals and scholars who have an interest in the crime problem. At the same time, this information is important as a reference source for the general public as an indicator of the crime factor in our society.
The objectives of the Maine Uniform Crime Reporting Program are:
1. Inform the governor, legislature, other governmental officials and the public as to the nature of the crime problem in Maine - its magnitude and its trends.
2. Provide law enforcement administrators with criminal statistics for administrative and operational use.
3. Determine who commits crimes by age, sex, and race, in order to find the proper focus for crime prevention and enforcement.
4. Provide proper base data and statistics to measure the workload and effectiveness of Maine's Criminal Justice System.
5. Provide base data and statistics for research to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and performance of criminal justice agencies.
6. Provide base data and statistics to measure the effects of prevention and deterrence programs.
7. Provide base data to assist in the assessment of social and other causes of crime for the development of theories of criminal behavior.
The methods used to obtain these objectives include the measurement of:
1. The extent, fluctuation, distribution, and nature of serious crime in the State of Maine through presentation of data on the eight Crime Index Offenses.
2. The total volume of serious crime known to the police.
3. The activity and coverage of law enforcement agencies through arrest counts, clearance of reported offenses, and police employee strength data.
The offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson are used to establish an index in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. They measure the trend and distribution of crime in the United States and, more significantly, within the geographic regions of contributing states such as Maine. These crimes are counted by law enforcement agencies as they become known and reported on a monthly basis. The crime index offenses were selected as a measuring device because, as a group, they represent the most common crime problems. They are all serious crimes, either by their very nature or due to the volume and frequency in which they occur.
The offenses of murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault and robbery make up the violent crime category. The offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson make up the property crime category.
Although offense known statistics are gathered in the classification of manslaughter by negligence (1b) and simple assault (4e), they are not computed into the crime index for purposes of establishing crime trends.
Classification in all Part I offenses is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury or other judicial body.
The total number of criminal acts that occur is unknown, but those that are reported to the police provide the first means of a count. Not all crimes come readily to the attention of the police; not all crimes are of sufficient importance to be significant in an index; and not all important crimes occur with enough regularity to be meaningful in an index. With these considerations in mind, and with all state and national reporting jurisdictions using uniform reporting procedures, the above crimes were selected as a group to furnish an abbreviated and convenient measure of the crime problem.
The crime counts used in the Crime Index and set forth in this publication are based on actual offenses established and determined by police investigation. When a law enforcement agency receives a complaint of a criminal matter and the follow-up investigation discloses no crime occurred, it is unfounded. These unfounded complaints are eliminated from the actual crime counts.
In Maine's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, contributing law enforcement agencies are wholly responsible for compiling their own crime reports and submitting them to the Uniform Crime Reporting Division in Augusta.
The UCR Division, in an effort to maintain quality and uniformity in data received, furnishes to the contributing agencies continuous training and instruction in Uniform Crime Reporting procedures. All contributors are also furnished with a State of Maine UCR guide manual which outlines in detail procedures for scoring and classifying offenses. The guide manual illustrates and discusses the monthly and annual reporting forms, as well as providing a question-and-answer training syllabus in the eight crime index categories.
A centralized record system is necessary to the sound operation of any law enforcement agency. The record system is an essential basis for crime reporting by the agency. Trained Uniform Crime Reporting personnel are utilized to assist contributors in the established reporting procedures of Uniform Crime Reporting.
On a monthly basis, law enforcement agencies (state, county and local) report the number of offenses that become known to them during the month in the following crime categories.
1. Criminal Homicide
a. Murder and Non-Neg. Manslaughter
b. Manslaughter by Negligence (not an index crime)
2. Forcible Rape
a. Rape by Force
b. Attempts to Commit Forcible Rape
b. Knife or Cutting Instrument
c. Other Dangerous Weapon
d. Strong-Arm (Hands, Fists, Feet, etc.)
b. Knife or Cutting Instrument
c. Other Dangerous Weapon
d. Hands, Fists, Feet, etc., Aggravated
e. Hands, Fists, Feet, Not Aggravated (not an index crime)
a. Forcible Entry
b. Unlawful Entry - No Force
c. Attempted Forcible Entry
6. Larceny-Theft (except motor vehicle theft)
7. Motor Vehicle Theft
b. Trucks and Buses
c. Other Vehicles
b. Mobile Property (vehicles, trailers, etc.)
c. Other Property (crops, timber, etc.)
Arson, designated as a national index offense by the U.S. Congress in 1979, is now being reported to the UCR system by contributing agencies.
In July of 1979, the Maine Legislature enacted a new domestic Violence law that deals with abuse and assaults occurring between household or family members. The law mandates the reporting of such incidents by police agencies as an addition to the Uniform Crime Reporting function.
A count is taken from a record of all complaints of crime received by the law enforcement agency from victims, other sources, and/or discovered by officers.
Whenever complaints of crime are determined through investigation to be unfounded or false, they are eliminated from the actual count. The number of actual offenses known in these crime categories is reported to the UCR Division whether or not anyone is arrested for the crime; the stolen property is recovered; prosecution is undertaken; or any other restrictive consideration is in effect. Law enforcement agencies on a monthly basis report the total number of these reported crimes which they clear, either by arrest or exceptional means. A separate count of crimes cleared which involve only persons under the age of 18 is shown. The number of law enforcement officers killed or assaulted and the value and type of property stolen and recovered during the month are also reported.
Arrests are reported monthly for all criminal acts, except traffic violations, by crime category and include the age, sex and race of each person arrested.
Uniformity and accuracy of crime data collected under this program is of primary concern. With the receipt of reports covering approximately 150 reporting jurisdictions within the state of Maine, the problems of attaining uniformity are readily apparent. Issuance of instructions and training of personnel within contributing agencies does not complete the role of the UCR Division. It is standard operating procedure to examine each incoming report for mathematical accuracy and completeness and, perhaps of even greater importance, for reasonableness as a possible indication of error. Clearance factors, recovery rates and other possible benefits are scrutinized, and changes are suggested to the contributors where noted. In the instance of minor mathematical corrections, the contributing agency is either contacted by phone or in-person visitations are made by qualified UCR program personnel.
The possibility of duplication in crime reporting is given constant attention when reports are received and verified by internal consistency checks. If duplication is suspected, the contributing agencies are immediately contacted and the matter is resolved in accordance with existing guidelines. A continual analysis of reports is maintained to assist contributors when needed and to maintain the quality necessary for a factual and successful program. Personal visitations are made to contributors to cooperatively assist in needed revisions of records and reporting methods.
Regardless of the extent of the statistical verification process used by the Uniform Crime Reporting Division, the accuracy of the data assembled under this program depends on the sincere effort exerted by each contributor to meet the necessary standards of reporting.