FBI: violent crime drops again in 2011

[JURIST] The FBI released its annual report on violent and property crime, Crime in the United States 2011 [materials; press release], on Monday, which found that the number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement decreased for the fifth consecutive year and the number of property crimes reported decreased for the ninth consecutive year. The report is based on the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) [official website]. The report found that violent crime decreased by 3.8 percent and property crime decreased by 0.5 percent in 2011 from 2010. The report further stated that there were approximately 1.2 million violent crimes, 9.6 million property crimes and 12.4 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in the US in 2011. Furthermore, in 2011 64.8 percent of murders, 41.2 percent of forcible rapes and 56.9 percent of aggravated assaults were cleared. The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] previously announced that both violent crime and property crime rates increased from 2010 to 2011 [JURIST report] based on a report compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and estimates of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) [official websites]. However, the FBI cautioned that the two reports cannot be directly compared [FBI report]:

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 UCR Program provides a reliable set of criminal justice statistics for law enforcement administration, operation, and management, as well as to indicate fluctuations in the level of crime, while the NCVS provides previously unavailable information about victims, offenders, and crime... including crimes not reported to police.
The DOJ nonetheless stressed in the NCVS-based report that crime was still overall trending downward. The differences from the two reports come from the facts that they were created to serve different purposes, rely on different methodology and define some crimes differently.

It is the fifth year in a row that violent crimes decreased according to the UCR-based report. The trend continued from the Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report [JURIST report] released in June and the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report [JURIST report] released in December. The report for 2010 showed a decrease of 6.0 percent in violent crime and a decrease of 2.7 percent in property crime compared to 2009 statistics [JURIST reports]. The decrease began after 2006 and 2005 statistics [JURIST reports].

 

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