Explain why underreporting is an issue for UCR/NIBRS and NCVS.

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The Uniform Criminal Reporting program publishes data received from law enforcement agencies in an annual NIBRS publication. However, in order for a jurisdiction’s data to appear in the publication, the agency in charge of entering reports into NIBRS must have entered 12 consecutive months of reports. The data gathered by NIBRS is used by the federal government to allocate criminal justice funding to states, and thus, underreporting data is causing a misappropriation of federal funds.

A jurisdiction that does not consistently report each encounter made by law enforcement will be rated a "safer" jurisdiction than a jurisdiction that reports every encounter by law enforcement. The safety rating given to the non-reporting jurisdiction is due to zero data rather than quality law enforcement efforts, and thus the federal government is using confounded data to allocate criminal justice funds (see https://ucr.fbi.gov/nibrs-overview.)

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The National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the Uniform Crime Reporting programs are programs that gather data on reported crimes from police and federal agencies. The accuracy of information at the federal level is dependent on the accuracy of information at the local level. Underreporting is an issue for all three of these programs because many crimes go unreported to law enforcement period.

In 2012, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report that estimated that over half of violent crimes never get reported. The report cited a variety of reasons for the large number of unreported crimes from not believing it was important enough to report to not reporting for fear of retribution. Sometimes the victims did not believe that the police would be able to help. Also, crimes involving places such as school or work where the victims felt they had to return had an increased number of unreported crimes. These incidences of underreporting at a local level greatly impact the data that larger crime statistics programs can gather. 

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