Has Crime Gone Up or Down? Yes


I can’t believe I’ve lived as long as I have without knowing this, but the United States has two primary ways of measuring the nation’s crime rate: the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

I’ve always thought that the FBI UCR was the definitive word on crime stats. If you’ve got the UCR data, that’s it. Game over.

Not true!

U.S. crime data

The data above are a year old, but you can see that 2022 UCR data shows a drop in the violent crime rate, while NCVS data shows that total violent crime rose in 2022.

UCR Data vs. NCVS data

The FBI’s UCR statistics reflect crimes reported by the public to police. But most crimes are not reported to the police. To help account for the omissions, the NCVS measures crime in a nationwide household survey of respondents ages 12 and over. The NCVS data include both crimes that were reported to the police and those that were not.

Approximately 52% of serious violent crimes were reported to the police in 2021 and 48% in 2022.

I found out about the NCVS when I was doing some research on crime stats in the U.S. I hear some people (Democrats) claim that crime rates are down but that doesn’t map accurately to the world I see with my own eyes. The news always has plenty of violent crime stories, smash-and-grab robberies, etc. People are moving out of cities to get away from crime. Companies are closing stores in high-crime areas because they can’t make money and they can’t keep employees safe. Stores like Walgreens and CVS are keeping even relatively inexpensive items in locked cases so you have to ask someone to unlock them if you want to make a purchase.

And yet I’m told that crime rates are down. Not a problem. So now I see that you can cite the FBI UCR stats, which everyone does, and present what appears to be a rosy picture that’s totally out of sync with reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *