National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

crime stats

The way the Baltimore Police Department collects and reports data on crimes is about to change. Introducing the National Incident-Based Reporting System or NIBRS.

The FBI has mandated that all law enforcement agencies across the country make the transition to NIBRS to improve the overall quality, accuracy and timeliness of crime data collected.

For decades, the national standard for crime reporting and data collection was through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Summary Reporting System (SRS). In 2021, the UCR Program phased out SRS and transitioned to NIBRS-only data collection.

Benefits of NIBRS

NIBRS provides greater specificity in reporting offenses, allows for the collection of more detailed crime-related information, helps give context to specific crime issues and affords greater analytic flexibility of the crime data collected.

Increased specificity in reporting helps the Baltimore Police Department:

  • Quickly see the bigger picture in an incident
  • Identify patterns in crimes in a timely manner  
  • Fight crime more effectively

What's Changing? Comparing SRS to NIBRS

The Summary Reporting System (SRS) collected data under a hierarchy rule that reported only the most serious offense in an incident. However, according to data, 10.6% of crimes committed include additional offenses.

With NIBRS, there is no hierarchy rule. This allows for multiple offenses to be documented per incident. The NIBRS system also expands the classification of offenses beyond what was available under SRS. For example, under SRS there are only 8 “Part 1” offenses, while there are 52 “Group A” offenses under NIBRS. (“Group A” under NIBRS is comparable to “Part 1” under SRS.)

Why is this important?

  • Reported crime numbers will seem higher than they were in the past for certain offense categories.
  • This does not mean that crime has increased; it just means the way crimes are reported has changed.

SRS can tell us how many rapes occurred and how many arrests there were for rape offenses (by age, sex, race, and ethnicity of arrestee) in a jurisdiction. However, NIBRS can tell us how many rapes occurred; the age, sex, race, and ethnicity of the victims, the offenders, and any persons arrested for rape; the date, time, and locations of those offenses; connections to any other offenses that may have occurred in those incidents; and whether or not the offenses were bias motivated. - FBI

SRS vs. NIBRS Data Comparison

The chart below outlines the difference between SRS crime data and NIBRS crime data for the last three months of 2021. Keep in mind, these changes are due to the difference in how offenses are reported and categorized between the reporting systems--not an actual increase in crime. 

  Dec-21 Nov-21 Oct-21
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT 507 453 11.92 502 471 6.58 516 480 7.50
BURGLARY 252 262 -3.82 321 314 2.23 329 340 -3.24
CARJACKING 54 56 -3.57 64 65 -1.54 66 67 -1.49
COMMON ASSAULT 668 631 5.86 676 670 0.90 794 839 -5.36
HOMICIDE 27 27 0.00 28 28 0.00 26 26 0.00
RAPE 19 19 0.00 11 11 0.00 24 24 0.00
ROBBERY 364 370 -1.62 285 275 3.64 345 292 18.15
SHOOTING 72 72 0.00 55 55 0.00 76 76 0.00

NIBRS Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)?

The National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS, implemented to improve the overall quality of crime data collected by law enforcement. It captures details on each single crime incident—as well as on separate offenses within the same incident. In 2021, the historic Summary Reporting System (SRS) data collection, which collected more limited information than the more robust NIBRS, was phased out. (Source)

Why did BPD change to NIBRS?

Law enforcement agencies across the country—including BPD—have made the transition to NIBRS reporting due to a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) mandate. The FBI has made nationwide implementation of NIBRS a top priority because NIBRS can provide more useful statistics to promote constructive discussion, measured planning, and informed policing. (Source)

What is the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program?

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program generates reliable statistics for use in law enforcement. It also provides information for students of criminal justice, researchers, the media, and the public. The program has been providing crime statistics since 1930. In 2021, the UCR Program retired the Summary Reporting System (SRS) and transitioned to NIBRS-only data collection. (Source)

How is the NIBRS mandate different from the federally mandated Consent Decree?

The Consent Decree is a court enforceable agreement to resolve the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings that it believed BPD had engaged in a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing.

While these mandates are different and unrelated to one another, certain technological reforms under the Consent Decree, such as the Department’s implementation of a new Records Management System, do make it possible to comply with the FBI NIBRS-mandate.

Will I still be able to access pre-NIBRS transition UCR data?

There will be no change to either the nature of, or access to, the pre-NIBRS UCR Summary Data.

For how long will I be able to access the pre-NIBRS transition UCR data?

Pre-NIBRS UCR Summary Data will be maintained in accordance with Baltimore Police Department and City of Baltimore data retention policies. The retention duration is not affected by the NIBRS transition.

What will happen to the old UCR data?

The old UCR Summary Data will be maintained in accordance with Baltimore Police Department and City of Baltimore data retention policies. The old UCR Summary Data will not, nor can it be, converted to NIBRS format.

Is there a maximum number of offenses that can be recorded per incident under NIBRS?

Yes. Up to 10 offenses can be recorded per incident under NIBRS.