What is Incident-Based Reporting?

The incident-based reporting (IBR) of criminal offenses or incidents is a data collection strategy that differs markedly from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's traditional summary-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. In IBR systems, law enforcement agencies maintain a database of the details of criminal incidents that are reported to them and report these details to their state UCR programs. In summary reporting, most local law enforcement agencies provide a monthly count of offenses and arrests for certain offense categories to their state UCR systems, which in turn report these totals to the FBI. Localities with IBR can fulfill the summary reporting requirements of the FBI's UCR program by aggregating selected incident-level data.

IBR systems, which are defined at the local and state levels, involve comprehensive data collection at the incident level on the various aspects of reported criminal incidents. Depending upon the design of the particular system, the information collected can include details about the incident location, offense(s), offender(s), victim(s), property, and arrestee(s). These systems can provide a solid foundation for tactical decision-making, strategic planning, offender tracking through the criminal justice system, research, and reporting. Localities and states with IBR systems can perform crime mapping, produce annual and special reports, and respond to ad hoc requests. Some states with IBR maintain Internet sites that display standard reports and/or provide downloadable data or reports.

In 1985, the FBI introduced the National Incident-Based Crime Reporting System (NIBRS), which is a standardized IBR system. Agencies that adopt NIBRS can choose to enhance the system to accommodate local requirements and still meet NIBRS reporting standards. Since NIBRS core elements are standardized across states and localities, large data sets can be obtained for analysis. For more information on NIBRS, proceed to What is NIBRS? More information on the use and implementation of NIBRS can be obtained from Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics (SEARCH), and the FBI's Web site (also see Links to Related Sites and References for these and other useful sites).

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