Violent Crime Increased in 2016-Is America Entering a New Era of Violence?

For the best overview of Crime in the United States and links to recent reports, see Crime Over Time-Crime in America.

See FBI charts at the bottom of this page.


Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Graduate-Johns Hopkins University.

Is America Entering a New Era of Increasing Violence?

Yes, violent crime (and fear of crime) is increasing throughout the Unites States. We predicted the increase for 2015 based on crimes reported to police, and we correctly predicted another increase in 2016. According to FBI data, it’s rare for the rate of violent crime to increase for one year only.

Data from the National Crime Survey indicate flat growth in violence while numbers from Gallup state that Americans’ direct experience with crime is at a 16-year high, see below. Gallup also states that fear of crime is at its highest point since 2001.

Crime Politicized

It’s unfortunate that an objective analysis of crime in America has become a political issue with major newspapers and some criminologists insisting that violent crime is not increasing while additional media outlets and criminologists insist that it is.

We attempt to offer an objective analysis below.

Three National Measures of Violence

The average person simply wants to know if crime went up or down, but the answer is confusing due to two measures used (victimization surveys via the National Crime Survey and crimes reported to police via the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI), and reports throughout the United States that homicide and violent crime is increasing in some (not all) cities.

A variety of data is presented here for your consideration.

Both the National Crime Survey and the Uniform Crime Report are products of two agencies within the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

There is, however, a third source for crime information from Gallup (see below) accessing individuals, households, and fear of crime.

The data from Gallup is interesting because they indicate that crime is up (at historical highs) based on their unique measurement points. But ninety percent of the crime discussion focuses on the two reports from the Department of Justice.

FBI-2016-First Six Months-Violent Crime Up

Preliminary figures indicate that law enforcement agencies throughout the nation showed an overall increase of 5.3 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention for the first 6 months of 2016 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2015.

The violent crime category includes murder, rape (revised definition), rape (legacy definition), robbery, and aggravated assault.

The number of property crimes in the United States from January to June of 2016 decreased 0.6 percent when compared with data for the same time period in 2015. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.

FBI-2015- Violent Crime Up

After two years of decline (reported crime was mostly flat in 2014 with a slight decrease) the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in 2015 when compared with 2014 data, according to FBI figures.

Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the thirteenth straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

National Crime Survey

From 2014 to 2015, there was no statistically significant change in the overall rate of violent crime (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault), per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Some speculate that flat growth in violent crime could indicate future increases.

Gallup and Additional Data Offering a National Perspective on Crime

Per Gallup (November, 2016) Americans’ direct experience with crime is at a 16-year high, consistent with a gradual increase — from 22% in 2001 to 29% today — in the percentage saying that they or a household member was the victim of a robbery, vandalism or violent crime in the past year, see Gallup-Crime.

Per Gallup-household crime is at its highest point since 2001.

This is after Gallup offered another report on, “In U.S., Concern About Crime Climbs to a 15-Year High,” see Gallup-Concern.

See Crime Over Time-Crime in America for additional links and a comprehensive overview of violent crime over time.

Crime in America at

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