Crime in Virginia

Virginia has been publishing crime data in an expanded format since 1994. This reporting system, fully implemented in 2000, is known as Incident Based Reporting (IBR). The following information is furnished to provide an overall description of IBR.

During the preliminary development of IBR by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, advice was solicited from the National Association of State UCR programs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies and other federal, state and local criminal justice agencies.

The guidelines and specifications developed were provided to South Carolina for testing through a pilot program in 1987. As a result of this testing, further refinements were made. In 1988, a national conference was held to present these guidelines and obtain feedback from representatives of law enforcement agencies in attendance. Recommendations included efforts to implement this system nationally, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would manage this program and that an Advisory Policy Board be formed to assist in the development and implementation of the new program.

Virginia formed a State UCR Committee in 1986 to follow the developments of IBR and to evaluate its impact. This committee was composed of representatives from the Virginia State Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Department of State Police. The State UCR Committee created the UCR Forms Subcommittee, which included representatives from police and sheriffs’ agencies, the State Police, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services. This subcommittee developed, tested and subsequently recommended a standard Incident Based Reporting form for use in Virginia. The Forms Subcommittee recommended this form be used at the option of the reporting agencies. Agencies, however, may use their own form to report the required data to the central repository. It is important, at this point, to recognize that the purpose of these forms was to collect the various information concerning criminal activity. Because of the numerous data elements collected, law enforcement agencies report this datato the central repository via an automated system.

The UCR Committee recommended that the Superintendent of the Department of State Police adopt the minimum, mandatory data standards recommended by the FBI and proceed with implementation of Incident Based Reporting in Virginia. In addition, the committee recommended that the data be collected which would relate the property to the offense, the type of property security/alarm system used, and the means by which the offender left the scene of the offense. Additional data is also collected on Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA), providing description of activities and assignments the officer was performing at the time of the offense, as well as offenses that were also classified as Hate Crimes (i.e. bias motivated).

Some of the major benefits derived from the IBR system include: greater specificity in reporting; more correlation between offenses, property, victims, offenders, and arrestees; expanded victim/offender relationships; distinction between attempted and completed crimes and increased reporting of various circumstances relative to specific crimes. The IBR system requires that extensive data be reported for each crime occurring during a particular incident. Under the old summary system, only limited data concerning the most serious crime occurring during a particular incident was reported.

Information relating to two different levels of offenses is collected by the IBR system. The most serious offenses are designated as Group “A”; the less serious offenses are designated as Group “B”. Group A offenses consist of 24 categories of crimes involving 52 different offenses; a maximum of 10 offenses per incident may be reported. Agencies are required to report 75 data elements for Group A offenses. Group B offenses, consisting of 10 crimes, only require reporting arrest data. Group A and B offense categories along with their definitions are provided beginning on page five.

While these figures are the most accurate available, it must be remembered that they represent a “snapshot” of incidents reported by local law enforcement agencies and are based on the UCR definitions. As such, it is possible that the number and categorization of offenses may differ when comparing these data with those from individual reporting agencies. If there are concerns with these differences, it is suggested that you contact the agency directly.