Updated, September, 2011
There are two primary sources for crime data in the United States. The first is crime reported to law enforcement agencies, processed at the state level and reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Many criminologists see this data as an index of serious crimes that are reported to police.
The problem is that the majority of crime (and approximately half of violent crimes and 40 percent of property crimes) are not reported to law enforcement agencies. Crimes are not reported because victims see the event as a personal matter ( a fight between friends or family members) or a theft that the victim considers minor or the victim’s belief that law enforcement cannot resolve the issue (a theft where the likelihood of getting property back or resulting in the arrest of the offender is unlikely).
To deal with the crime reporting issue, the Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice under the US Department of Justice created the National Crime Survey. The National Crime Survey collects data from households and individuals (similar to the Census Bureau) to get a picture of total crime.
The latest data involving crimes reported to law enforcement agencies includes:
For the latest data from the National Crime Survey, see:
For an overview of declining crime over the last 20 years, see:
The bottom line of the two reports is that violent and property crime are at record lows for the country and , generally speaking, have been decreasing for the last two decades. While this news is of little consequence to those living in areas where crime continues to be a problem, it is never-the-less great news for a country that suffered large increases in crime and violence for decades since the mid 1960′s.
Please note that there are additional measures focusing on fear of crime, crimes committed against students, substance abuse and many other criminological variables. Most are cited within this site and most indicate a downward trend that matches the FBI’s report and the National Crime Survey.
Please see http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/StateCrime.cfm for a long-range view of violent crime rates.
The summation from the National Crime Survey (cited above) is as follows: “These declines in violent and property victimizations continued a larger trend of decreasing criminal victimization in the United States. In 2010, violent and property victimization rates fell to their lowest levels since the early 1990s. From 1993 to 2010, the violent crime victimization rate decreased 70 percent, dropping steadily from about 50 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 1993 to about 15 per 1,000 in 2010. The property crime victimization rate fell 62 percent, from about 319 victimizations per 1,000 households in 1993 to 120 per 1,000 in 2010.”
From the Associated Press: “Experts are surprised at how much crime is declining as shown in the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey, criminologist Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University tells the Associated Press. From 1993 through 2010, the rate of violent crime has declined by a whopping 70 percent: from 49.9 violent crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to only 14.9 per 1,000 in 2010. Half of this decline came between 1993 and 2001. Between 2001 and 2009, violent crime declined at a more modest annual average of 4 percent, but that rate decline jumped to 13 percent in 2010.”