National Incident-Based Reporting System Resource Guide
About the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
The National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is an incident-based reporting system for crimes known to the police. For each crime incident coming to the attention of law enforcement, a variety of data is collected about the incident. These data include the nature and types of specific offenses in the incident, characteristics of the victim(s) and offender(s), types and value of property stolen and recovered, and characteristics of persons arrested in connection with a crime incident.
Incident-based data provide an extremely large amount of information about crime. The information is also organized in complex ways, reflecting the many different aspects of a crime incident. Therefore this website provides a Resource Guide for learning about, accessing and using NIBRS data.
Using the Resource Guide
NACJD, a part of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, designed this Resource Guide for World Wide Web users to learn about the NIBRS dataset, to connect to other NIBRS information sources, and to easily create custom NIBRS datasets which include user specified variables and cases from multiple segment levels.
Much of the text in this Resource Guide comes from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) publications. It has been edited to correspond to the topics of this website. The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data wishes to acknowledge and thank the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics for their assistance and support in furthering the distribution and analysis of NIBRS data.
With this guide, first time users or experienced analysts can:
- Read about NIBRS' connection to traditional Uniform Crime Reporting.
- Connect to other NIBRS - related sites.
- Understand important concepts specific to NIBRS including: the crime incident, multiple units of analysis, the various NIBRS segment levels, and the offenses covered by NIBRS.
- Review the NIBRS data structure, including all 13 segment levels.
- Download all of the NIBRS data files, codebook, and SPSS and SAS data definition statement files.
- Use the Interactive Code Builder to automate the creation of custom analysis files.
NIBRS and UCR
The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, of which NIBRS is a part, is a city, county, state, and Federal law enforcement program. This program provides a nationwide view of crime based on the submission of crime information by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The crime data are submitted either through a state UCR Program or directly to the national UCR Program, which is administered by the FBI. Since the 1930s, the data have been used in law enforcement administration, operation, and management, as well as to indicate the levels and nature of crime in the United States.
Throughout its first 60 years of operation, the UCR Program remained virtually unchanged in terms of the data collected and disseminated. As time progressed, a broad utility evolved for UCR data, and law enforcement expanded its capabilities to supply crime information. In the late 1970s, the law enforcement community called for a thorough evaluative study of UCR with the objective of recommending an expanded and enhanced UCR Program to meet law enforcement needs into the 21st century. Following a multiyear study, a "Blueprint for the Future of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program" was developed. Using the "Blueprint" and in consultation with local and state law enforcement executives, new guidelines for Uniform Crime Reports were formulated. The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is being implemented to meet these guidelines.
NIBRS offers law enforcement and the academic community more comprehensive data than ever before available for management, training, planning, and research. The implementation of NIBRS will be at a pace commensurate with the resources, abilities, and limitations of the contributing law enforcement agencies.
It is important to stress that while NIBRS is being implemented, the traditional UCR reporting format is still being used extensively.
Online Analysis of NIBRS Data
The Online Survey Documentation and Analysis is a set of programs for the documentation and web-based analysis of survey data and procedures for creating customized subsets of datasets. Online Data Analysis is available for NIBRS only for a selection of segments.
Online data analysis is recommended for users who would like to search for variables of interest in a dataset, review frequencies or summary statistics of key variables to determine what further analyses are appropriate, review frequencies or summary statistics for missing data, produce simple summary statistics for reports, create statistical tables from raw data, and those who would like to create custom subsets of cases or variables from a particularly large collection to save time in downloading and space on a personal computer.
Other NIBRS Resources
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Justice Research and Statistics Association
Journal of Quantitative Criminology
The link below will search the ICPSR citations database for citations of publications with "National Incident-Based Reporting System" in the title. Users can create their own searches or browse the citations database through our Publications Bibliography Web page.
Search for NIBRS Publications