History of UCR
National Program

Recognizing a need for national crime statistics, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) formed the Committee on Uniform Crime Records in the 1920s to develop a system of uniform police statistics. Establishing offenses known to law enforcement as the appropriate measure, the Committee evaluated various crimes on the basis of their seriousness, frequency of occurrence, pervasiveness in all geographic areas of the country, and likelihood of being reported to law enforcement. After studying state criminal codes and making an evaluation of the record keeping practices in use, the Committee in 1929 completed a plan for crime reporting which became the foundation of the UCR Program.

Seven offenses were chosen to serve as an Index for gauging fluctuations in the overall volume and rate of crime. Known collectively as the Crime Index, these offenses included the violent crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. By congressional mandate, arson was added as the eighth Index offense in 1979.

During the early planning of the program, it was recognized that the differences among criminal codes precluded a mere aggregation of state statistics to arrive at a national total. Further, because of the variances in punishment for the same offenses in different state codes, no distinction between felony and misdemeanor crimes was possible. To avoid these problems and provide nationwide uniformity in crime reporting, standardized offenses definitions by which law enforcement agencies were to submit data without regard for local statutes were formulated.

In January 1930, 400 cities representing 20 million inhabitants in 43 states began participating in the UCR Program. Congress enacted Title 28, Section 534, of the United States Code authorizing the Attorney General to gather crime information that same year. The Attorney General, in turn, designated the FBI to serve as the national clearinghouse for the data collected. Since that time, data based on uniform classifications and procedures for reporting have been obtained from the Nation's law enforcement agencies.

Providing vital links between local law enforcement and the FBI in the conduct of the UCR Program are the Criminal Justice Information Systems Committees of the IACP and the National Sheriff's Association (NSA). The IACP, as it has since the Program began, represents the thousands of police departments nationwide. The NSA encourages sheriffs throughout the country to participate fully in the Program. Both committees serve in advisory capacities concerning the UCR Program's operation.

To function in an advisory capacity concerning UCR policy and provide suggestions on UCR data usage, a Data Providers' Advisory Policy Board (APB) was established in August 1988. The board operated until 1993 when a new Board to address all FBI criminal justice information services was approved. The Board functions in an advisory capacity concerning UCR policy and on data collection and use. The UCR Subcommittee of the Board ensures continuing emphasis on UCR-related issues.

The Association of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs and committees on UCR within individual state law enforcement associations are also active in promoting interest in the UCR Program. These organizations foster widespread and more intelligent use of uniform crime statistics and lend assistance to contributors when the needs arise.1

1Crime in the United States - 1997, United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Background of the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

Originally, the UCR Program was designed as a summary system to collect only the most serious offense within an incident. However, the Program began using incident-based reporting (i.e., NIBRS) in 1989 to capture all offenses within an incident—up to ten crime occurrences. Through NIBRS, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) report data on each offense and arrest within 28 offense categories made up of 71 specific crimes called Group A offenses. For each of the Group A offenses coming to their attention, the LE collects administrative, offense, property, victim, offender, and arrestee information. LEAs report only arrest data for an additional 10 Group B offense categories. 

By design, LEAs generate NIBRS data as a by-product of their respective records management systems (RMSs). Therefore, an LEA builds its system to suit its own individual needs, including all of the information required for administration and operation, then forwards only the data required by NIBRS to the FBI UCR Program. As more agencies report via NIBRS, the data collected will provide a clearer assessment of the nation’s crime experience.2

22021.1 National Incident-Based Reporting System User Manual – April 15, 2021, United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation

North Carolina Program

The growing need for a central computerized network of criminal justice information for the state of North Carolina prompted an extensive survey by the Governor's Law and Order Committee in 1968. Following this committee's report, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation in 1969 creating the Police Information Network under the Department of Justice.

The Police Information Network (PIN) was given the authority under N.C.G.S. 114-10 to collect and correlate information regarding the administration of criminal laws; to maintain and control the access to such information that is required for the performance of criminal justice duties; and to make analysis and comparisons of this data in cooperation with local, state, and national criminal justice agencies.

Planning began on March 27, 1972, to initiate North Carolina as one of the first states to develop its own state program of law enforcement statistics, the North Carolina Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In January 1973, the PIN initially began the collection of monthly Uniform Crime Reports from county and municipal law enforcement agencies. The first annual report produced by the North Carolina Crime Reporting Program presented data from the year 1973.

The Division of Criminal Information (DCI) developed an Incident-Based (IBR) Program in 1980 similar to the one developed by the FBI. The program was designed to be a less restrictive and more expansive method of collecting crime data as opposed to the previous UCR Summary program from which statistics had been drawn previously. Conversion eliminated the monthly completion of time-consuming and often error-filled summary reports by the contributing agencies. Instead, agencies were able to submit crime data electronically to DCI in accordance with North Carolina IBR specifications. 

The advantages of such a reporting system were obvious: 1) less paperwork imposed upon participating agencies, 2) better overall uniformity and validity of crime data, and 3) a vastly enhanced crime data base for analysis purposes. However, several of the largest local agencies within the state were not able to complete this transition of sending incident-based data to the state program. As a result, the state program continued producing a summary reporting system (SRS) overview of Crime in North Carolina. For historical comparison purposes, this publishing trend continues today. 

In 1985, the Police Information Network was made part of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) by order of the Attorney General and merged with the SBI's Identification Section creating the Division of Criminal Information (DCI). It was felt that the Division of Criminal Information was an appropriate name since a major function of DCI would be to collect, store and disseminate criminal history and criminal statistical information.

In 2010, the NC SBI’s Crime Reporting Program embarked upon a major project to align ourselves with the federal standard of reporting crime data and modernize our data collection methods. This would allow the state crime reporting program to collect more detailed data and provide a much clearer and comprehensive picture of crime in the State of North Carolina. Transition of local law enforcement agencies from the former methods of reporting to the new NC-DEx system began in 2018. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) transition to require all states and local agencies to report NIBRS has been in progress since 2015, when the January 1, 2021 deadline for the transition to NIBRS was set by the FBI, along with law enforcement partners. The NC SBI Crime Reporting Program received NIBRS certification from the FBI in September 2019. 

This transition is allowing us, as a state, to update and enhance our reporting of crime to be able, in the future, to provide more robust data internally, to the legislature and local governments for policy decisions and to the general public.

Even with the transition to NIBRS, the public will still be able to see long-term crime trends. That’s because the NCSBI Crime Reporting Unit will, in addition to reporting the more detailed incident data, convert the NIBRS data back into the previous summary format, specifically for long-term trend analysis. This will offer researchers and the public an “apples to apples” comparison.