The Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the nation's primary source of information on criminal victimization. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of about 90,000 households, comprising nearly 160,000 persons, on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. The NCVS collects information on nonfatal personal crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and personal larceny) and household property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft) both reported and not reported to police. Survey respondents provide information about themselves (e.g., age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, marital status, education level, and income) and whether they experienced a victimization. For each victimization incident, the NCVS collects information about the offender (e.g., age, race and Hispanic origin, sex, and victim-offender relationship), characteristics of the crime (including time and place of occurrence, use of weapons, nature of injury, and economic consequences), whether the crime was reported to police, reasons the crime was or was not reported, and victim experiences with the criminal justice system.
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|Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey|
|2014 PDF (277K) | 2012 PDF (276K) | 2008 PDF (169K)|
|NCVS Basic Screen Questionnaire|
|2015 PDF (83K) | 2012-2014 PDF (232K) | 2009-2011 PDF (264K) | 2008 PDF (296K) | 2007 PDF (335K) | 2004 PDF (187K) | 2001 PDF|
|NCVS Control Card|
|NCVS Crime Incident Report|
|2015 PDF (182K) | 2012-2014 PDF (157K) | 2009-2011 PDF (726K) | 2008 PDF (648K) | 2007 PDF (335K) | 2004 PDF (169K) | 2001 PDF|
|NCVS for Spanish-speaking respondents|
|2001 Crime Incident Report (196K) | 2001 Basic Screen Questionnaire for Spanish (221K)|
|School Crime Supplement (SCS)|
|2013 PDF (213K) | 2011 PDF (123K) | 2009 PDF (194K) | 2001 PDF | 1999 PDF|
|Supplemental Victimization Survey (SVS)|
|2006 PDF (163K)|
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is an annual data collection conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The NCVS is a self-report survey in which interviewed persons are asked about the number and characteristics of victimizations experienced during the prior 6 months. The NCVS collects information on nonfatal personal crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and personal larceny) and household property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft) both reported and not reported to police. In addition to providing annual level and change estimates on criminal victimization, the NCVS is the primary source of information on the nature of criminal victimization incidents.
Survey respondents provide information about themselves (e.g., age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, marital status, education level, and income) and whether they experienced a victimization. The NCVS collects information for each victimization incident about the offender (e.g., age, race and Hispanic origin, sex, and victim-offender relationship), characteristics of the crime (including time and place of occurrence, use of weapons, nature of injury, and economic consequences), whether the crime was reported to police, reasons the crime was or was not reported, and victim experiences with the criminal justice system.
The NCVS is administered to persons age 12 or older from a nationally representative sample of households in the United States. The NCVS defines a household as a group of persons who all reside at a sampled address. Persons are considered household members when the sampled address is their usual place of residence at the time of the interview and when they have no usual place of residence elsewhere. Once selected, households remain in the sample for 3 years, and eligible persons in these households are interviewed every 6 months either in person or over the phone for a total of seven interviews.
All first interviews are conducted in person with subsequent interviews conducted either in person or by phone. New households rotate into the sample on an ongoing basis to replace outgoing households that have been in the sample for the 3-year period. The sample includes persons living in group quarters, such as dormitories, rooming houses, and religious group dwellings, and excludes persons living in military barracks and institutional settings such as correctional or hospital facilities, and persons who are homeless.
Nonresponse and weighting adjustments
In 2015, 95,760 households and 163,880 persons age 12 or older were interviewed for the NCVS. Each household was interviewed twice during the year. The response rate was 82% for households and 86% for eligible persons. Victimizations that occurred outside of the United States were excluded from this report. In 2015, less than 1% of the unweighted victimizations occurred outside of the United States and were excluded from the analyses.
Estimates in NCVS reports generally use data from the 1993 to 2015 NCVS data files, weighted to produce annual estimates of victimization for persons age 12 or older living in U.S. households. Because the NCVS relies on a sample rather than a census of the entire U.S. population, weights are designed to inflate sample point estimates to known population totals and to compensate for survey nonresponse and other aspects of the sample design.
The NCVS data files include both person and household weights. Person weights provide an estimate of the population represented by each person in the sample. Household weights provide an estimate of the U.S. household population represented by each household in the sample. After proper adjustment, both household and person weights are also typically used to form the denominator in calculations of crime rates.
Victimization weights used in this analysis account for the number of persons present during an incident and for high-frequency repeat victimizations (i.e., series victimizations). Series victimizations are similar in type but occur with such frequency that a victim is unable to recall each individual event or describe each event in detail. Survey procedures allow NCVS interviewers to identify and classify these similar victimizations as series victimizations and to collect detailed information on only the most recent incident in the series.
The weight counts series incidents as the actual number of incidents reported by the victim, up to a maximum of 10 incidents. Including series victimizations in national rates results in large increases in the level of violent victimization; however, trends in violent crime are generally similar, regardless of whether series victimizations are included. In 2015, series incidents accounted for about 1% of all victimizations and 4% of all violent victimizations. Weighting series incidents as the number of incidents up to a maximum of 10 incidents produces more reliable estimates of crime levels, while the cap at 10 minimizes the effect of extreme outliers on rates. Additional information on the series enumeration is detailed in the report Methods for Counting High-Frequency Repeat Victimizations in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCJ 237308, BJS web, April 2012).
Standard error computations
When national estimates are derived from a sample, as with the NCVS, caution must be used when comparing one estimate to another estimate or when comparing estimates over time. Although one estimate may be larger than another, estimates based on a sample have some degree of sampling error. The sampling error of an estimate depends on several factors, including the amount of variation in the responses and the size of the sample. When the sampling error around an estimate is taken into account, the estimates that appear different may not be statistically different.
One measure of the sampling error associated with an estimate is the standard error. The standard error can vary from one estimate to the next. Generally, an estimate with a small standard error provides a more reliable approximation of the true value than an estimate with a large standard error. Estimates with relatively large standard errors are associated with less precision and reliability and should be interpreted with caution.
To generate standard errors around numbers and estimates from the NCVS, the Census Bureau produced generalized variance function (GVF) parameters for BJS. The GVFs take into account aspects of the NCVS complex sample design and represent the curve fitted to a selection of individual standard errors based on the Jackknife Repeated Replication technique. The GVF parameters were used to generate standard errors for each point estimate (e.g., counts, percentages, and rates) in this report.
BJS conducted tests to determine whether differences in estimated numbers, percentages, and rates in this report were statistically significant once sampling error was taken into account. Using statistical programs developed specifically for the NCVS, all comparisons in the text were tested for significance. The primary test procedure was the Students t-statistic, which tests the difference between two sample estimates. Unless otherwise noted, the findings described in this report as higher, lower, or different passed a test at the 0.05 level of statistical significance (95% confidence level). Findings that passed a test at the 0.10 level of significance are noted as such in the text, i.e. (90% confidence level). Caution is required when comparing estimates not explicitly discussed in this report.
Data users can use the estimates and the standard errors of the estimates provided in this report to generate a confidence interval around the estimate as a measure of the margin of error. The following example illustrates how standard errors can be used to generate confidence intervals:
According to the NCVS, in 2015, the violent victimization rate among persons age 12 or older was 18.6 per 1,000 persons (see table 1 in Criminal Victimization, 2015, NCJ 250180, October 2016). Using the GVFs, it was determined that the estimated victimization rate has a standard error of 1.16 (see appendix table 2 in Criminal Victimization, 2015, NCJ 250180, October 2016). A confidence interval around the estimate was generated by multiplying the standard errors by ±1.96 (the t-score of a normal, two-tailed distribution that excludes 2.5% at either end of the distribution). Therefore, the 95% confidence interval around the 18.6 estimate from 2015 is 18.6 ± (1.16 × 1.96) or (16.31 to 20.85). In others words, if different samples using the same procedures were taken from the U.S. population in 2015, 95% of the time the violent victimization rate would fall between 16.3 and 20.8 per 1,000 persons.
In this report, BJS also calculated a coefficient of variation (CV) for all estimates, representing the ratio of the standard error to the estimate. CVs provide a measure of reliability and a means for comparing the precision of estimates across measures with differing levels or metrics.
Methodological changes to the NCVS in 2006
Methodological changes implemented in 2006 may have affected the crime estimates for that year to such an extent that they are not comparable to estimates from other years. Evaluation of 2007 and later data from the NCVS conducted by BJS and the Census Bureau found a high degree of confidence that estimates for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 are consistent with and comparable to estimates for 2005 and previous years. The reports, Criminal Victimization, 2006 (NCJ 219413, December 2007), Criminal Victimization, 2007 (NCJ 224390, December 2008), Criminal Victimization, 2008 (NCJ 227777, September 2009), Criminal Victimization, 2009 (NCJ 231327, October 2010), Criminal Victimization, 2010 (NCJ 235508, September 2011), Criminal Victimization, 2011 (NCJ 239437, October 2012), Criminal Victimization, 2012 (NCJ 243389, October 2013), Criminal Victimization, 2013 (NCJ 247648, September 2014), and Criminal Victimization, 2014 (NCJ 248973, August 2015), are available on the BJS website.
|Publications & Products|
|Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016 This annual report, a joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals.|
Indicators of School Crime and Safety Series
Part of the |
|Police Response to Domestic Violence, 2006-2015 Presents 2006-15 data on nonfatal domestic violence victimizations reported to police, the police response to these victimizations, the prevalence of related arrests or charges, and criminal complaints signed against the offender.|
|Crime Against Persons with Disabilities, 2009-2014 - Statistical Tables Presents estimates of nonfatal violent crime (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault) against persons age 12 or older with disabilities.|
Crime Against People with Disabilities Series
Part of the |
|Criminal Victimization, 2015 Presents national rates and levels of criminal victimization in 2015 and annual change from 2014.|
Criminal Victimization Series
Part of the |
|Co-Offending Among Adolescents in Violent Victimizations, 2004-13 Presents estimates of nonfatal violent victimizations perceived by the victim to be committed by adolescents ages 12 to 17 during 2004-13.|
|Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2015 Presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals.|
Indicators of School Crime and Safety Series
Part of the |
|Assessing the Coverage and Reliability of Subnational Geographic Identifiers in the NCVS Public-Use File Examines the coverage and reliability of the NCVS sample in the subnational geographic areas that can be created from the public-use files by combining Census region, population size, and urbanicity.|
|Evaluation of Direct Variance Estimation, Estimate Reliability, and Confidence Intervals for the National Crime Victimization Survey Examines the feasibility of using direct variance estimation for the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).|
|Developmental Estimates of Subnational Crime Rates Based on the National Crime Victimization Survey Presents rates of violent and property crime victimization for the 50 states and select metropolitan statistical areas, generated using smallarea estimation (SAE) methods.|
|Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 Presents findings on the prevalence and nature of identity theft from the 2014 Identity Theft Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.|
Identity Theft Series
Part of the |