CRIME RATE ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED LAST YEAR U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 5 P.M. EST SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1994 BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS (202) 307-0784 CRIME RATE ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED LAST YEAR WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The number of Americans who were the victims of crime remained essentially unchanged last year, according to a redesigned annual survey the Department of Justice published today. The new format includes crimes not previously included, such as sexual assaults other than rape. Estimates, based on questioning 100,000 people, showed there were almost 500,000 sexual attacks last year, including 160,000 rapes, 152,000 attempted rapes, and 173,000 other sexual crimes. Other assaults, including domestic assaults, were up about 8 percent. Nationwide, there were approximately 44 million personal and household crimes. However, there was no general trend up or down. Attempted assaults without a weapon were up 11 percent. However, other petty crimes, such as the theft of cash or property under $50, fell 7 percent. The annual crime victimization survey, begun in 1972, is intended to complement the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The UCR is a compilation of crimes reported to law enforcement agencies, which, unlike the victimization survey, includes murder and manslaughter. The victimization survey cannot measure murder because of the inability to question the victim. However, it counts all other crimes whether or not they are reported to the police. Violent crime victimizations continued a seven-year increase, principally because of a rise in attempted assaults. Victimization rates for personal crimes increased an estimated 5.6 percent between 1992 and 1993. Personal crimes consist of rape, other sexual attacks, robbery, assault, and personal thefts (purse snatching and pocket picking). The victimization rate for rape, as told to the survey's interviewers, decreased in 1993, but was not significantly different than in 1992, continuing the relatively constant rate shown in earlier years. The number of completed violent victimizations dropped slightly last year. However, attempted violent crimes, which include threats involving weapons as well as attempted assaults, continued to increase slightly. The property crime victimization rate, which includes household burglary, motor vehicle theft and property theft, declined 1 percent between 1992 and 1993. The only victimizations that decreased by a significant amount were thefts of cash or property valued under $50. Last year these thefts had decreased by more than 7 percent--from 104 thefts per 1,000 to 97 per 1,000 households. The data reflect a recent pattern in which the levels of certain completed violent crimes, such as simple assault completed with injury, have been declining or holding steady while the levels of attempted victimizations, such as attempted simple assault without a weapon, have generally been on the increase. The estimates are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics(BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey, which is the government's second largest household survey. It is administered for BJS by the Bureau of the Census each year to approximately 100,000 people age 12 and older in about 50,000 households. Attached is a table of selected survey data prepared by BJS statistician Lisa D. Bastian. A comprehensive report, describing methodological and other technical changes, will be published later this year. For more information about the survey's redesign call Jay Hoover of BJS, on 202-307-1132. Other BJS statistical reports, may be obtained from the BJS Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701-0179. The telephone number is 1-800-732-3277. Fax orders to 410-792-4358. To receive a fax copy of 20 pages of background information on the redesigned report call 301-216-1827. After hours contact: Stu Smith 301-983-9354 Note to readers: Because of the redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), these figures are not directly comparable to those found in previous NCVS publications. Number of victimizations (1,000's) Victimization rates (per 1,000) 1992 1993 % change 1992 1993 %change 1992-93 1992-93 All crimes 42,912 43,622 1.7% ... ... ... Personal crimes* 10,692 11,409 6.7% 51.1 53.9 5.6% Crimes of violence 10,317 10,896 5.6% 49.3 51.5 4.5% Rape/Sexual assault 607 485 -20.1% 2.9 2.3 -20.9% Completed rape 175 160 8.3 0.8 0.8 -9.2 Attempted rape 200 152 -23.7 1.0 0.7 -24.5 Sexual assault** 233 173 -25.8 1.1 0.8 -26.6 Robbery 1,293 1,307 1.0% 6.2 6.2 0 % Completed 862 826 4.2 4.1 3.9 5.2 Attempted 431 481 11.6 2.1 2.3 10.4 Assault 8,416 9,104 8.2% 40.2 43.0 7.1% Aggravated 2,317 2,578 11.3 11.1 12.2 10.2 Completed with injury 671 713 6.3 3.2 3.4 5.2 Attempted assault with weapon 1,646 1,865 13.3 7.9 8.8 12.2 Simple 6,099 6,525 7.0% 29.1 30.8 5.9 Completed with injury 1,445 1,358 -6.0 6.9 6.4 -6.9 Attempted assault without weapon 4,655 5,167 11.0b 22.2 24.4 9.9 Property crimes 32,220 32,213 0 % 325.3 322.4 -.9% Household burglary 5,815 5,995 3.1% 58.7 60.0 2.2% Completed 4,756 4,835 1.7 48.0 48.4 .8 Forcible entry 1,845 1,858 .7 18.6 18.6 -.2 Unlawful entry without force 2,911 2,977 2.3 29.4 29.8 1.4 Attempted forcible entry 1,059 1,160 9.6 10.7 11.6 8.6 Motor vehicle theft 1,838 1,967 7.0% 18.6 19.7 6.1% Completed 1,203 1,297 7.8 12.1 13.0 6.9 Attempted 635 670 5.5 6.4 6.7 4.6 Theft 24,568 24,250 -1.3% 248.0 242.7 -2.2% Completed*** 23,474 23,033 -1.9 237.0 230.5 -2.7 Less than $50 10,313 9,642 -6.5b 104.1 96.5 -7.3a $50-$249 7,976 7,688 -3.6 80.5 76.9 -4.5 $250 or more 4,144 4,264 2.9 41.8 42.7 2.0 Attempted 1,094 1,217 11.3 11.0 12.2 10.3 ************************************************************************** Note: The redesign in 1992 used a sample half the normal size. Therefore, fewer changes are statistically significant. Victimization rates are calculated on the basis of the number of victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older or per 1,000 households. a = Significant at the 95% confidence level. b = Significant at the 90% confidence level. ...Not applicable. * = Personal crimes include purse snatching and pocket picking, not shown separately. ** = Questions about crime included in this category were added in July 1992, covering the previous 6 months. The data used to develop these estimates do not constitute a complete year. *** = Completed theft includes victimizations for which a dollar amount of loss was not available. ************************************************************************** What is the National Crime Victimization Survey? The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is one of two Justice Department measures of crime in the United States. A pioneering effort when it was begun in 1972, the survey was intended to complement what is known about crime from the FBI's annual compilation of information reported to law enforcement agencies. The survey, which also counts incidents not reported to the police, provides a detailed picture of crime incidents, victims, and trends from the victim's perspective. Data are collected every year from a sample of approximately 50,000 households with more than 100,000 individuals age 12 or over. Victimizations are categorized as personal or property crimes. Personal crimes, including attempts, involve incidents with direct contact between the victim and offender. (Murder is not measured by the NCVS because of the inability to question the victim.) Property crimes do not involve personal confrontation and include such crimes as household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. Why redesign? o Criticism of the earlier survey's capacity to gather information about certain crimes, including sexual assaults and domestic violence, prompted numerous improvements. o Improved survey methodology enhances the ability of people being interviewed to recall events. o Public attitudes toward victims have changed, permitting more direct questioning about sexual assaults. What is the redesign? The new methodology was systematically field tested and introduced starting in 1989, and its results are being published for the first time this year. New questions were added to accommodate heightened interest in certain types of victimizations. Improvements in technology and survey methods were incorporated in the redesign. The extended effort to improve the survey is paying off, as the numbers from the redesign will be available in October 1994. An advisory panel of criminal justice policymakers, social scientists, victim advocates, and statisticians oversaw the work of a consortium of criminologists and social and survey scientists who conducted research on the improved procedures. What are the results of the redesign? Victims are now reporting more types of crime incidents to the survey's interviewers. Previously undetected victimizations are being captured. For example, the survey changes have substantially increased the number of rapes and aggravated and simple assaults reported to interviewers. For the first time, other victimizations, such as non-rape sexual assault and unwanted or coerced sexual contact that involves a threat or attempt to harm, are also being measured. Why are survey participants reporting so many more victimizations? The survey now includes improved questions and cues that aid victims in recalling victimizations. Survey interviewers now ask more explicit questions about sexual victimizations. Advocates have also encouraged victims to talk more openly about their experiences. Together, these changes substantially improve reporting for many types of personal and household crime. Can the new results be compared with previous years'? Measuring annual change in crime victimization is one of the most important uses of NCVS. The transition to the redesigned survey preserved the ability to detect annual change. Both versions of the survey were used simultaneously to collect data for 1992-93. The overlap also permits measuring the differences between the old and new surveys to show whether the1992-93 differences were due to changes in crime or changes in the survey. Why did the Justice Department pick this time to release these findings? Annual change estimates of crime victimizations are regularly published in the fall. For the first time, data collected with the redesigned survey are available for two consecutive years. The transition to the redesigned survey began in 1989, and this release has been planned since that time. What do the results of the redesign tell us about the adequacy of information from the original survey? o Number of victimizations. The original National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) benefited from survey methods that were state of the art at the time it was developed. The improvements in survey procedures for the redesigned NCVS have resulted in increased reporting of victimizations. Because victims are reporting more victimization experiences, the redesigned survey is in fact producing a more comprehensive picture of the overall volume of crime. o Characteristics of victimizations. The standards the NCVS uses to define different types of victimizations remain largely the same in the redesigned survey. Details other than what happened to the victim, such as age, race, victim-offender relationship, and location of the offense, are also comparable with information provided by the original survey. Consequently, data collected about the characteristics of crime incidents are equally reliable, regardless of which questionnaire was used to collect it. o Annual change estimates. Year-to-year victimization comparisons have always been calculated on data collected with like questionnaires and procedures. Comparisons for 1991-92 were calculated using the old questionnaire, and those for 1992-93 were prepared with information from the new questionnaire. Consequently, any published findings of differences between years should be considered reliable. For more information about the NCVS redesign, contact Jay Hoover, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 202-307-1132. *************************************************************** Bureau of Justice Statistics Fact Sheet NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY REDESIGN October 30, 1994 NCJ-151170 The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Department of Justice collects and analyzes statistics from all aspects of the criminal justice system. The NCVS data are collected and processed by the Bureau of Census. In addition to the National Crime Victimization Survey, BJS collects and disseminates information regarding corrections, law enforcement, prosecution, drugs, and justice expenditure and employment. For more information call the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-732-3277.