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National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) Redesign



ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 5 P.M. EST                            
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1994                            

(202) 307-0784


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)                                 
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 

    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 

    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 

 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

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 

        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


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.

Date Published: October 30, 1994