POLICE Department

HPD’s Transition from UCR to NIBRS

In accordance with the national shift in crime data collection and reporting methods, the Houston Police Department has just completed transitioning from UCR to NIBRS. While transitioning to the new method can be somewhat costly, and—because of the greater level of reporting specificity in NIBRS—it can initially appear that an agency has higher levels of crime after switching to NIBRS, the new system will provide more useful statistics, promoting constructive discussion, measured planning, and informed policing.

The vision is for NIBRS to become the law enforcement community’s standard for quantifying crime, further supporting the original mission of the FBI UCR Program to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration, operation, and management. More information on the national transition to NIBRS is available on the FBI’s website.


NIBRS compiles detailed reports on two types of offenses: Group “A” offenses and Group “B” offenses. The two groupings are based on the amount of reporting required for each. Both incidents and arrests are reported for Group “A” offenses, while only arrests are reported for Group “B” offenses.

The following criteria is used to determine whether a crime should be designated as a Group “A” offense:

1. The seriousness or significance of the offense.
2. The frequency or volume of its occurrence.
3. The prevalence of the offense nationwide.
4. The probability of the offense being brought to law enforcement’s attention.
5. The likelihood that law enforcement is the best channel for collecting data
regarding the offense.
6. The burden placed on law enforcement in collecting data on the offense.
7. The national statistical validity and usefulness of the collected data.
8. The national UCR Program’s responsibility to make crime data available not only to law enforcement but to others having a legitimate interest in it.

Group “A” offenses are categorized into one of the three following categories:
1) Crimes Against Persons;
2) Crimes Against Property;
3) Crimes Against Society.

Crimes Against Persons = Scores one offense for each victim
Crimes Against Property = Scores one offense for each distinct operation (except Motor Vehicle Theft / one offense is counted per stolen vehicle)
Crime Against Society = Scores one offense for each violation

NIBRS Group A includes the following Offenses with some having sub categories within the overall grouping:

  • Homicide Offenses
  • Sex Offenses, Forcible
  • Sex Offenses, Non-forcible
  • Robbery
  • Assault Offenses
  • Burglary / Breaking and Entering
  • Larceny / Theft Offenses
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting / Forgery
  • Destruction / Damage / Vandalism of Property
  • Drug / Narcotic Offenses
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion / Blackmail
  • Fraud Offenses
  • Gambling Offenses
  • Kidnapping / Abduction
  • Pornography / Obscene Material
  • Prostitution Offenses
  • Stolen Property Offenses
  • Weapon Law Violations

UCR Part I includes the following eight offenses:

  • Criminal Homicide
  • Forcible Rape
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Burglary
  • Larceny-Theft
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Arson

A significant difference between NIBRS and UCR Traditional Summary Reporting is that for Crimes Against Persons segment, NIBRS counts the number of victims, while UCR counts the number of incidents.

Consequentially, NIBRS figures tend to show more Crimes Against Persons than UCR figures due to the manner in which the count takes place. This may be mistaken for a overall crime increase, whereas the count of incidents may not rise the manner is how what is counted (various crimes committed within a single incident) has changed.

Example: an incident reported under UCR guidelines would only be counted once for the highest crime committed, whereby under NIBRS the single incident will have multiple crime types.

Incident Crimes Committed Reported to UCR Program
12345678 (UCR format) Murder, Robbery Murder reported Robbery not reported
12345678 (NIBRS format) Murder, Robbery Murder reported Robbery reported