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Measurement of White-Collar Crime Using Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Data

NCJ Number
Cynthia Barnett
Date Published
11 pages
This document discusses how the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) will allow for better measurement of more recent concerns in law enforcement, such as white collar crime.
Currently, the definition of white collar crime is hotly debated by experts. There appears to be three major orientations: those that define white collar crime by the type of offender, those that define it in terms of the type of offense, and those that study it in terms of the organizational culture rather than the offender or offense. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opted to approach white collar crime in terms of the offense. Although it is acceptable to use socioeconomic characteristics of the offender to define white collar crime, it is impossible to measure white collar crime with Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data if the working definition revolves around the type of offender. There are no socioeconomic or occupational indicators of the offender in the data. Under the traditional Summary Reporting System, there is a limited amount of information available on white collar crime. There is promise that the ability to measure white collar crime will improve with further implementation of the NIBRS, the UCR Program’s major modernization effort. Four data elements of particular interest for measuring white collar crime are “offender(s) suspected of using...,” location type, property description, and type of victim. High tech crime is well represented by the data element “offender is suspected of using....” Offenses like fraud can be further delineated by the type of victim, property description, or location type. NIBRS provides for the collection of age, sex, race, ethnicity, and resident status information on the offenders associated with an incident in which some descriptive information is known. NIBRS data capture information on both the arrests associated with the incident as well as five circumstances of exceptional clearances, which include the offender died, prosecution was declined, extradition was denied, the victim refused to cooperate, and the offender was a juvenile and not taken into custody. NIBRS data has already begun to reveal information about crime and criminality, including white collar crime, that has been previously unknown. 7 tables, 2 appendices, 5 endnotes, bibliography, glossary