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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Conflicting Data on Crime

Richard Rosenfeld and Janet Lauritsen at WP:
On Oct. 16, the FBI released data for 2022 that showed a small drop in the nation’s violent crime rate, including homicide. That’s good news.

Unfortunately, the government’s other crime measurement system — the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) — tells a disturbingly different story. Its findings, released in September, show that violent crime victimization rose — by a lot.

One reason might be that fewer violent crimes were reported to the police in 2022 than in 2021. We don’t know why this might have been, but increasing police response times stemming from depleted officer ranks might have made some residents less inclined to file reports. Declining trust in or increasing fear of the police might have played a role as well.

Other reasons for the discrepancy might result from the different populations covered by the two data sources. As a household-based survey, the NCVS does not include people who are homeless or those in institutions such as prisons, jails and nursing homes. It also excludes crimes of violence against those younger than 12. If people included in the survey experienced changes in violence that differ from the changes experienced by those excluded from the survey, that could help account for the different violence rates.