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Consensus Study Report


It is easy to underestimate how little was known about crimes and victims before the findings of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) became common wisdom. In the late 1960s, knowledge of crimes and their victims came largely from reports filed by local police agencies as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, as well as from studies of the files held by individual police departments. Criminologists understood that there existed a "dark figure" of crime consisting of events not reported to the police. However, over the course of the last decade, the effectiveness of the NCVS has been undermined by the demands of conducting an increasingly expensive survey in an effectively flat-line budgetary environment.

Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey, reviews the programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS.) Specifically, it explores alternative options for conducting the NCVS, which is the largest BJS program. This book describes various design possibilities and their implications relative to three basic goals; flexibility, in terms of both content and analysis; utility for gathering information on crimes that are not well reported to police; and small-domain estimation, including providing information on states or localities.

This book finds that, as currently configured and funded, the NCVS is not achieving and cannot achieve BJS's mandated goal to "collect and analyze data that will serve as a continuous indication of the incidence and attributes of crime." Accordingly, Surveying Victims recommends that BJS be afforded the budgetary resources necessary to generate accurate measure of victimization.

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2008. Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

218 pages |  6 x 9 | 

  • Paperback:  978-0-309-11598-8
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-17789-4

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