Since 1930, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been collecting and publishing crime data in the United States. The project was initially conceived by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and has proved to be a vital asset for anyone studying crime and criminal justice. A report listing several major crimes is provided each year and at times, the FBI has issued special reports as the need arises.
2016 was an unusual year for the Uniform Crime Report. The FBI issued the report earlier than usual and then it only provided mid-year data spanning January to June. Why?
After issuing the 2016 UCR, the FBI announced it was completing an overhaul of the system. For three decades, the agency employed a system which, though providing data much quicker than in decades preceding, is now out of date. The agency stated that by the new system would be functional by February 2017 but for a time would operate alongside the older system.
The FBI stated that the new UCR system will provide
- enhanced data management tools
- greater efficiency in data collection
- improved processing and maintenance of crime data
- automation of data and tools
- tailored reports
- streamlined publication
- quicker access to data
In other words, the FBI is entering the 21st Century…at least as far as Data collection and dissemination. This is a mixed blessing.
For anyone used to downloading the spreadsheets and manipulating the data to serve their needs, a new system will require a learning curve (sad). For anyone not yet accustomed to the UCR system, the new should be a delight (huge).
Sorry, that was a bit cheeky. Still, the new UCR system and data for the entirety of 2016 should be ready soon and we anticipate that once the new system is in full-swing, students will no longer need to wait nearly a year for the release of data. In fact, we anticipate that if not immediately, at some point data will be provided in real time, allowing for serious, in-depth data analysis.
2016 Mid-Year (January to June) UCR Data
For now, we must be content with the mid-year data provided by the FBI. In the following infographics, bar charts are provided to show the crime data reported by the FBI UCR for cities and counties reporting.
Conclusions Regarding FBI UCR 2016 Mid-Year Data
Sorry, but there is not enough information to draw conclusions. The plain fact is that data plotted as simply as found in these infographics can only serve to raise further questions. From there, research would be needed to draw sound conclusions.
For instance, we can hypothesize from this data that the economy is performing fairly well in cities under one million population because non-violent crimes are largely down across the board: Burglaries, Larceny, and Property Crime are down while Robberies and Motor Vehicle Theft increased. Why?
See, there is a question. One possible hypothesis involves looking at Arson rates, which are also down among those population centers. Arson is often a crime by property owners having financial difficulties. With arson down in non-major urban centers, it seems that property owners are faring well.
Some have noted that burglaries are more common in neighborhoods where income levels are lower. Likewise, larceny and property crime. However, robberies and car theft tend to affect the affluent more. Given this, combined with the increases in violent crime, much of which involves police-community/race/socio-economic relations, it is possible that this data reflects a shift in attitudes among the poor.
The strange data in 2016, placed into the perspective of the Black Lives Matter movement, the terrible police-community relations, the abrupt power shift in Washington DC politics, the expanding gap between rich and poor as well as the increased awareness of this gap leads to one possible conclusion: Those living in poverty are turning their anger outward, more so than in previous periods.
Naturally research is needed to determine if this is the case, but if so, the United States could be facing a serious and dangerous future. Throughout history, when the poor and oppressed stop fighting among themselves and turn their attention to the wealthier classes, violence and increased wanton bloodshed is the outcome. Given the strong increases in U.S.violent crime in both 2015 and the first half of 2016, such a scenario may have already begun.