2021 Nationwide Crime Statistics
Recently, the FBI released detailed data and estimates on over 11 million criminal offenses reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for 2021.1 In addition, information was shared via The Transition to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS): A Comparison of 2020 and 2021 NIBRS Estimates2 and the 2021 Crime in the United States (CIUS) data.3
For years, the FBI’s UCR Program has provided annual snapshots of nationwide crime. This year, users will notice a difference in the data because it was exclusively collected via the NIBRS in 2021. Both the NIBRS and CIUS releases are based solely on these submissions.
Establishing the NIBRS as the national standard for crime data helps users to better learn and understand various facets of crime nationwide. The NIBRS provides an avenue for the UCR Program to estimate the amount of arson committed each year, number of drug offenses by drug type, and frequency of victimization. Further, the NIBRS estimates victim and arrestee demographics, including age, sex, and race.
In anticipation of UCR’s evolution to the NIBRS, the FBI collaborated with the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), to develop comprehensive methodologies to bring a NIBRS estimation process to fruition. This establishes 2021 as the first year in which all crime estimates can be based on NIBRS data. Together, the FBI and BJS developed and tested statistical procedures that assess the quality and completeness of NIBRS data, created methods to adjust for nontransitioned agencies, crafted estimation procedures for generating reliable and accurate national indicators as new agencies report NIBRS data, and established a semi-automated system for producing annual national estimates of key crime indicators.
To provide a confident comparison of crime trends across the nation, the UCR Program analyzed NIBRS estimation data of violent and property crimes from 2020 and 2021.
Overall, the data shows violent and property crime remained consistent between 2020 and 2021. While the aggregate estimated violent crime volume for the nation decreased 1% (from 1,326,600 in 2020 to 1,313,200 in 2021), the estimated number of murders increased 4.3% (from 22,000 in 2020 to 22,900 in 2021). The robbery rate decreased 8.9% from 2020 to 2021, which heavily contributed to the decrease in overall violent crime despite increases in murder and rape rates at the national level. It is important to note that these estimated trends are not considered statistically significant by NIBRS estimation methods. The nonsignificant nature of the observed trends is why, despite these described changes, the overall message is that crime remained consistent.
The complete analysis is located on the UCR’s Crime Data Explorer at https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/explorer/crime/nibrs-estimation.
1 “National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Tables” and “NIBRS Estimation Tables,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Crime Data Explorer, accessed November 21, 2022, https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/downloads#nibrs-downloads.
2 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, The Transition to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS): A Comparison of 2020 and 2021 NIBRS Estimates, 2022, https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/explorer/crime/nibrs-estimation.
3 “Crime in the United States Annual Reports,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Crime Data Explorer, accessed November 21, 2022, https://crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov/pages/downloads.