UCR and NCIC
25th, January 2013
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is a computerized database, which consists of documentations of criminal information. This information is usually available to all law enforcement agencies in the nation whenever they need it. The NCIC began its operations in the year 1967, with the goal of contributing to the achievement of objectives of law enforcement in the country. Some of the involvements of the NCIC include locating missing persons or property, protection of the public, and protection of law enforcement personnel, who risk their lives in the process of law enforcement. The NCIC started out its operation by helping law enforcement in the apprehension of fugitives and helping to locate property that was stolen (“Public Safety”).
Since the NCIC database consists of information about humans and property, the database includes 18 files, which contain this information. Records for articles and other properties such as vehicles, guns, boats, among others, are found in seven files, while the remaining 11 files consist of person records, including fugitives, sexual offenders, gang members, wanted persons, terrorist groups, among others. To back up the files, this database also includes images to assist law enforcement agencies in the identification of people and property (“Public Safety”).
The NCIC can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, during a traffic stop, a law enforcement officer can instantly check the NCIC records to verify if a particular vehicle in the traffic stop was stolen, or if it is being driven by a criminal. The NCIC therefore, serves an important purpose of availing an electronic database, which can be accessed by various criminal justice agencies for inquiries, and information on crime and criminals from other agencies. The information in the NCIC therefore, helps law enforcement and authorized agencies to locate missing persons and stolen property, identify criminals, and protect the law enforcement personnel (“Public Safety”).
The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) was established in the United States out of the need for tracking changes in the rate of crime at the state and national level. This program mainly collects data about crime instances reported by various law enforcement agencies in different states. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is responsible for the collection and publishing of this crime data annually. These publications however, vary depending on the state, type of crime, and nature of criminals. The most popular and biggest annual publication is “Crime in the United States.” This has different data on various crimes (Vito & Maahs, 2011).
The data in the UCR is important to the nation, as it serves different purposes at different levels. This data is of importance to the law enforcement personnel, the media, researchers, criminologists, and even members of the public. These use the data in different situations, and for different reasons. However, the URC primarily helps people to trace and note various changes in crime and criminal activity rates, over time. This is because the URC contains all data on crime and criminal activities happening in each state the whole year. The changes in crime rates can therefore, be monitored at the state level, as well as the national level. Being in position to monitor these changes, the law enforcement officials and other parties become well placed to conduct their own research based on the criminal data (Vito & Maahs, 2011).
To ensure the uniformity of crime reporting among all law enforcement agencies, the FBI provides the agencies with a set of similar procedures they must follow in their crime reporting process. Different factors influence crime in the United States; therefore, the URC does not serve the purpose of evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of different law enforcement agencies. In addition, the FBI warns that the URC must not be used for the purpose of comparing criminal activities and crime between two or more regions (Vito & Maahs, 2011).
“Public Safety.” (n.d). National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Retrieved 25 January 2013
Vito, G. & Maahs, J. (2011). Theory, Research, and Policy. London: Jones & Bartlett
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