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Beyond Bean Counting: New Approaches for Managing Crime Data

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1988
32 pages
This report examines the incident-based reporting system proposed in the revised Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) program and shows how progressive police departments have already used this system effectively.

The original UCR system provides summaries for a limited number of characteristics and cannot identify crime patterns rapidly. Recognizing the limited usefulness of this system, the FBI began redesigning the UCR program in 1982. The basic elements of the new program have now been established, and the revised program will be implemented over the next 5 to 10 years. The most important feature of the new system is that it is incident-based. Participating police departments will report some information on each incident, rather than just the total number of incidents in each crime category. The new system gathers additional information about victims, including the victim-offender relationship, the seriousness and nature of physical injuries, victims' age, race, sex, and other characteristics. The system also covers all reported offenses, not just the current Part 1 offenses. In addition, information on suspects will be collected, allowing a link between criminal history records and crime records. The computerization of recordkeeping by local police departments will also improve accuracy, keep files available, reduce the space needed, and improve data security and access. It will enable managers to go beyond clearance rates to establish comprehensive case tracking systems. The public will also become better informed. The new UCR will be more expensive than the current system, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Figures and photographs.

Date Published: January 1, 1988