National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) a national (USA) survey of households on crime victimization that is conducted twice yearly by the Bureau of Justice Statistics; a major purpose of the NCVS is to get at the dark figure of crime.

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is a biannual survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the United States. The survey is designed to collect data on the experiences of individuals and households with respect to crime victimization, including both reported and unreported crimes.

One of the main purposes of the NCVS is to capture the “dark figure of crime,” which refers to crimes that have occurred but have not been reported to law enforcement. This includes crimes that victims may not have reported due to fear of reprisal, lack of trust in law enforcement, or other reasons.

The NCVS collects data on a range of criminal offenses, including both violent and property crimes. These include crimes such as robbery, assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and identity theft. The survey also collects data on the characteristics of the victims and offenders, as well as the location and timing of the crimes.

The NCVS is an important tool for understanding the nature and extent of crime victimization in the United States. It provides policymakers and researchers with valuable data that can be used to develop evidence-based strategies for reducing crime and promoting public safety. By capturing the dark figure of crime, the survey provides a more complete picture of the impact of crime on individuals and communities.

In addition to capturing unreported crimes, the NCVS has several other strengths. For example, it collects data directly from victims rather than relying solely on law enforcement records. This can provide a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of crime victimization. The survey also collects data on crimes that are not reported to law enforcement, which can provide insights into the reasons why victims may not report crimes.

Despite its strengths, the NCVS also has some limitations. For example, the survey is based on self-reported data, which may be subject to biases or errors. Additionally, the survey may not capture certain types of crimes, such as those committed against institutionalized populations or those committed outside of households.

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Last Modified: 04/05/2023

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