Exploring the Sources of Non-Response in the Uniform Crime Reports

James P. Lynch, The American University

The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) has been one of the two major indicators of crime over the past 30 years. As in any data collection, non-response is an important source of error in the UCR. There are indications that amount of missing data in the UCR has increased dramatically in the last decade. This paper examines non-response in the UCR from 1990 to 1999 and attempts to explain why that non-response occurs and why it has increased. By merging the UCR Return A data and the arrest data with the information from the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS), we are able to test whether non-reporting is driven by attributes of police agencies, such as the sophistication of their information systems, or factors in the environment of these police agencies such as the implementation of the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the presence of state UCR programs or mandatory reporting laws.

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Updated 05/20/2006