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Lack of Police Reporting to FBI Blocks Estimated Crime Data

The FBI did not release estimated crime figures last year because not enough police agencies are reporting data in the National Incident Based Reporting System, The Trace reports. The bureau produces quarterly national estimates when at least 60 percent of law enforcement agencies voluntarily submit data. On Monday, the FBI reported that in 2021, for the fourth straight quarter, the required threshold had not been met. Only 52.5 percent of agencies (9,881 of 18,818) contributed information in the last quarter.


The low rate of voluntary reporting comes more than a year after the FBI switched to NIBRS, which calls for much more detailed data than did the former system. Criminologists say NIBRS eventually will provide more detailed crime estimates, but the switchover has been sluggish and relatively few agencies are using it so far. When the FBI releases final 2021 numbers later this year, it’s likely to be less accurate because it will rely on the inputs of far fewer agencies. “This is a pretty stark warning that our understanding of crime in 2021 will be substantially hampered,” said crime data analyst Jeff Asher.

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