BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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Crime and Justice in the United States
and in England and Wales, 1981-96

Reporting of crime to police


Robbery:  Reporting

Assault: Reported

Burglary:  Reported

Motor vehicle theft:  Reported

To the chart data

Notes on figures 11-14: In the national crime victimization surveys (described in Notes on figures 1-4), victims are asked whether the crime committed against them was reported or became known to police. Crime definitions for the graphics are given in Notes on figures 1-4. Note that pre-1992 U.S. estimates for assault and burglary were adjusted to make them comparable to later year estimates.

The level of crime recorded in police statistics depends partly on how often victims report crime to police. Comparisons of police statistics between countries can be misleading if victims in one country call police more often than victims in another country.

Information on how often victims (and others) report crime to police is available from victim surveys. In these surveys, victims are asked whether the police were notified or otherwise became aware of the crime.

Is serious crime reported to police more often in the United States or England (including Wales)?

According to crime victims in 1995, the percentage reported to the police was --

  • for robbery not significantly different between England (57% reported to the police) and the United States (55%) (figure 11)
  • for assault significantly greater in the United States (54%) than in England (40%) (figure 12)
  • for burglary significantly greater in England (66%) than in the United States (50%) (figure 13)
  • for motor vehicle theft not significantly different between England (98%) and the United States (88%) (figure 14).

Historically (after 1981) --

  • robbery is more often reported to the U.S. police than the English police (figure 11)
  • assault is more often reported to the U.S. police than the English police, but the historical pattern for assault is less consistent than for other crimes (figure 12)
  • burglary is more often reported to the English police than to the U.S. police (figure 13)
  • motor vehicle theft is more often reported to the English police than to the U.S. police, although the difference is typically small (figure 14).
Are crimes being reported to police more often today than in the past?

  • Reporting of crime to police is showing no clear trend in either England or the United States. A possible exception is English robbery, for which reporting to police has generally risen since 1983. In 1983, 39% of robberies were reported to police in England; in 1995, 57% were reported (figure 11).

    Chart data - in spreadsheets
    Figure 11 Figure 12
    Robbery Assault

    Year
    United
    States

    England
    United
    States

    England
    1981 56.0 46.5 46.7 40.2
    1982 56.0 52.0
    1983 53.0 39.0 50.2 59.6
    1984 54.0 47.8
    1985 54.0 52.0
    1986 58.0 52.9
    1987 55.0 43.9 53.8 43.3
    1988 57.0 48.4
    1989 51.0 46.6
    1990 50.0 52.9
    1991 55.0 47.2 52.0 47.7
    1992 58.0 55.0
    1993 56.0 46.5 53.0 53.9
    1994 55.0 52.0
    1995 55.0 56.6 54.0 40.0
    Figure 13 Figure 14

    Burglary

    Motor vehicle theft

    Year
    United
    States

    England
    United
    States

    England
    1981 49.0 66.2 87.0 94.9
    1982 47.0 88.6
    1983 47.0 67.8 88.4 96.4
    1984 47.0 86.0
    1985 48.0 88.9
    1986 49.9 88.5
    1987 49.9 62.8 88.6 94.9
    1988 49.0 89.6
    1989 48.0 93.1
    1990 49.0 94.8
    1991 48.0 73.0 92.4 98.6
    1992 51.0 92.2
    1993 49.0 69.0 93.4 96.8
    1994 51.0 92.4
    1995 50.0 66.3 88.8 97.5

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