Advantages of National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

Advantages of National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

In today’s world, law enforcement needs quality, timely, and detailed incident data to effectively deal with crime. Such data facilitates effective decision making. Incident-based reporting systems play a vital role in the collection of such data. With other resources such as records management systems and information sharing tools, incident-based reporting systems help identify trends, facilitate the effective deployment of resources, and help establish data-driven policing initiatives. One of the most common incident-based reporting systems used by law enforcement today is the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

In 1982, the FBI sponsored a program whose main objective was to study the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and develop a more comprehensive tool to facilitate the need of law enforcement in a rapidly evolving world. NIBRS was developed based on the results of that study. It was designed to help improve the quality of the data collected by law enforcement. When collecting data on a crime, NIBRS captures the details of the crime incident, the different offenses committed within that crime, the victims of the experience, the offenders, the relationship between the offenders and the victims, details of those arrested, and details on the property involved. Unlike its predecessor that only provided a summary report such as the aggregate monthly tally of crimes, NIBRS delivers more detailed data. For example, it gives context to the crime by providing data such as the crime location and the time it took place.  Previously, the UCR program had eight offense categories. NICBR expands on these categories. They fall under two major groups; Group A and Group B. Group A has 22 categories, while Group B has ten offenses. The data collected on the various crimes fall into six types of data segments: administrative, offense, victim, property, offender, and arrestee.

NIBRS does have its advantages, especially when compared to the UCR program. One of those advantages is that it provides more specificity on the reported offenses. If the crime incident involves more than one violation, NIBRS facilitates the reporting of all of them. Another advantage is that more detailed information is gathered, and this enables better decision making. NIBRS also allows greater analytic flexibility as more dimensions of the offenses can be looked at. The relationship between these dimensions can also be analyzed. It also easier to update incident reports once new evidence arises. It is quite difficult to tie a new offense to the original offense in traditional summary reporting systems such as the UCR program. NIBRS makes the association of new evidence and offenses with the original incident much easier.


(n.d.). Crime Reports and Crime Statistics. Criminal Justice. Retrieved from

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