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Crime Data Sources. Police reports, victimization, and self-report data. Sellin’s Dictum. “The value of a crime for index purposes decreases as the distance from the crime itself in terms of procedure increases” Thorsten Sellin, 1931. Sources of Crime Statistics. Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)

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Crime Data Sources

Police reports, victimization, and self-report data


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Sellin’s Dictum

“The value of a crime for index purposes decreases as the distance from the crime itself in terms of procedure increases”Thorsten Sellin, 1931


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Sources of Crime Statistics

  • Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)

  • National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVS)

  • Self-Report Data (SRD)


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Uniform Crime ReportsPart 1 Offenses

  • “Serious illegal acts that occur with sufficient frequency to provide an adequate basis for comparison”


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Crimes Not Included in the UCR Part 1 Crime Index

Reason: they do not come to the attention of police often enough.


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Step 1:

Step 2:

Police must decide…

Step 3:

Step 4:

Becoming a UCR Crime Statistic


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Reporting Crimes to the Police

  • People are MORE likely to report if…

  • People are LESS likely to report if…


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Officer Discretion

  • Officer discretion influenced by offense and offender characteristics


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Recording of Crimes by Police

  • Characteristics of the offense

  • Characteristics of offender

  • Characteristics of the victim


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Strengths of the UCR

  • National

  • Permits comparisons

  • Links to other sources


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Weaknesses of the UCR

  • Street crimes

  • Reactive crime reporting by citizens

  • Officer discretion

  • Susceptible to political pressure to over or under-report


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The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

  • Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Census every 6 months, households remain up to 3 years


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Self-Report Data

  • Unofficial statistics

  • Gets at the “dark figure” of crime

  • Provides information on causes of crime from offender’s perspective


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Ethical Issues in Self-Report Studies of Violent Crime

  • Exchange confidentiality for honesty

  • Ask subjects not to talk about planned violence