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What is NIBRS?

NIBRS stands for National Incident Based Reporting System. UCR reports will eventually be replaced by NIBRS reports; some states already require incident based reports (IBRs) and others are switching from UCR to NIBRS in 2003.

How does NIBRS differ from UCR?

UCR involves reporting the number of offenses, but very little about each specific incident. We call this a "summary reporting" system. By contrast, NIBRS involves sending information about each incident, thus the term "incident based reporting".

Consequently, NIBRS reports are much more detailed than UCR's. Let's say your department took a report of aggravated assault. With UCR, you simply add one to the tally of assaults. With NIBRS, you must report detailed information to your local/state collection agency, including:

  • Information about the offense - the type of location where it occurred; whether a weapon was used; whether the perpetrator was under the influence of drugs or alcohol; whether there was a racial/religious motivation
  • Information about the involved parties - demographics (age, sex, race) of victim and offender; any relationships between victim and offender; circumstances which might have motivated the crime (e.g. an argument, in the case of our agravated assault)
  • Information about property involved - description and value of any property seized, stolen, damaged etc.

Will everyone have to use NIBRS?

The FBI plans for all agencies to eventually submit incident-based crime data. No deadline has been set for the change. The current situation varies by state: in some states, submitting IBR's is already mandatory, other states presently have no plans to implement IBR. Most states currently accept either UCR's or IBR's.

How does this affect my department?

NIBRS will almost certainly require your department to process more data than it does currently. Departments without computer systems may find the reporting burden difficult to handle. Those with computer systems will need to verify that they are collecting all the information required by NIBRS, and should investigate whether their system generates NIBRS reports (as opposed to simply collecting the data). A good system should also be capable of correcting previous NIBRS submissions. Many departments considering the purchase of a computer system are now adding some degree of NIBRS compatibility to their requirements.

How can CLERK help?

CLERK is fully NIBRS compliant - it collects all the information mandated by NIBRS, and generates full NIBRS reports. It automatically detects changes in existing case reports, and generates NIBRS updates where appropriate. CLERK's automated handling of NIBRS makes data entry a breeze, and greatly reduces the burden on your records staff.

State-specific IBR

NIBRS is the format used to report crime data to the FBI. However, most agencies submit crime data to the state, not directly to the FBI. Provided states collect all the mandatory NIBRS data, they may also require agencies to submit additional information. Each state determines what (if any) additional data they wish to collect. Thus while each state may have a slightly different "IBR program" they are all based on one National IBR System (NIBRS).

Terrier Technologies works with state agencies responsible for IBR and produces plugins for CLERK that allow it to generate state-specific IBR reports. Plugins are available free of charge for registered users; contact us for more information. This makes it easy to customize CLERK to suit your department's local needs.

More information

Visit the National Consortium for Justice Information & Statistics. This site has sample NIBRS-compliant paper reports from several departments.

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