Dept. of Justice Survey: Violent Crime Rate Up 17% in 2011

WASHINGTON – In 2011, U.S. residents age 12 or older experienced an estimated 5.8 million violent victimizations and 17.1 million property victimizations, according to a report released today by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). These estimates are based on data from the annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) which has collected information from victims of crime since 1973.

Violent crime measured in the NCVS includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault. Property crime includes burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.

Between 2010 and 2011, the rate of violent victimization increased 17 percent, from 19.3 to 22.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. The increase in total violence was due to a 22 percent increase in the number of aggravated and simple assaults. There was no statistically significant change in the number of rapes or sexual assaults and robberies.

The survey flies in the face of FBI crime data released earlier this year reporting a 4% drop in violent crime in 2011, the fifth decrease in as many years.

Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told the Huffington Post the disparity was troubling.

“It calls into question whether whether police departments, either subtlely or overtly, are discouraging reporting,” O’Donnell said. “There’s real pressure on police departments to have the numbers going down all the time.”

While the percentage change in violent crime from 2010 to 2011 is relatively large, the actual difference between the rates for those years (3.3 victimizations per 1,000) is below the average annual change in violent crime (4.3 victimizations per 1,000) over the past two decades. The low rates make the percentage change large, but crime still remains at historically low levels. Since 1993, the rate of violent victimization declined 72 percent.

The rate of total property crime increased 11 percent, from 125.4 to 138.7 victimizations per 1,000 households between 2010 and 2011. Household burglary increased 14 percent, from 25.8 to 29.4 victimizations per 1,000 households.

In 2011, 49 percent of violent victimizations and 37 percent of property victimization were reported to police. From 2010 to 2011, there was no statistically significant change in the percentage of violent victimizations reported to the police. The percentage of property victimizations reported to the police declined from 39 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2011.

Other findings from the NCVS showed—

  • Total domestic violent victimizations, or crime committed by family members and intimates, increased slightly from 1.1 million in 2010 to 1.4 million in 2011.
  • No measurable change was detected in the rate of intimate partner violence (victimization committed by current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends) from 2010 to 2011.
  • Increases in the rates of violent victimizations for whites, Hispanics, younger persons, and males accounted for the majority of the increase in violent victimizations.
  • From 2010 to 2011, white non-Hispanics and Hispanics experienced an increase in violent victimization rates, while the rate for black non-Hispanics was stable. In 2011, no statistical differences were detected in the rate of total violent victimization among the three groups.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, the violent victimization rate for persons ages 12 to 17 increased from 28.1 victimizations per 1,000 in 2010 to 37.7 in 2011 and persons ages 18 to 24 increased from 33.9 to 49.0.
  • In 2011, males (25.4 violent victimizations per 1,000 persons) had a higher rate of total violent victimization than females (19.8 per 1,000).
  • In 2011, residents in urban areas continued to experience the highest rates of total violent victimization (27.4 per 1,000), while persons living in suburban areas experienced an increase in violent crime, from 16.8 victimizations per 1,000 in 2010 to 20.2 per 1,000 in 2011.

Read the report.

Read the press release.

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