What You Need to Know About the FBI’s Latest Crime Statistics

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The FBI released its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report last week indicating that violent crime in the United States is down 4.6 percent overall. The report, which marks the first FBI statistics for the 2014 calendar year, compares crime levels from January to June to the same period in 2013. The charts below highlight five important takeaways from the FBI’s report. Click here to read Law how the Top 10 Safest and Most Dangerous Cities fared with the latest data.

1. Crime is Down… Again

Despite a slight uptick in 2012, violent crime levels have been decreasing for years, and the preliminary numbers for 2014 are no exception. Overall violent crime was down 4.6 percent in the first six months of last year relative to the first six months of 2013. This downward trend in violent crime is not limited to the first six months of the year; annual statistics have shown a decrease in violent crime in six of the last seven years. The full year statistics for 2013 indicate that violent crime was down 18 percent when compared to the level in 2000.

The chart below details the change in violent crime from January to June for the past seven years. Note: each bar represents a percent change relative to the first six months of the previous year.


2. Better Data on Rape in America

Starting January 1, 2013, the FBI began using a new definition of rape to make the measure more inclusive and as a result more representative of the crimes that occur. Due to the nature of the UCR program, where cities and states voluntarily report their crime statistics to the FBI, it is up to individual law enforcement agencies set a time frame for adopting new procedures. It typically takes several years before a change in the reporting system is universally adapted by reporting agencies.

The preliminary semiannual report only includes agencies with three to six months of comparable data in two consecutive years. This means that the report does not cover the details of every agency in the United States, particularly agencies that recently transitioned to the new rape definition in 2014, as comparable data is not available. A better understanding of how many agencies use the new definition we be available once all full-year data for 2014 is submitted to the FBI.

The chart below indicates the total number of agencies that report using the revised and legacy definitions of rape as well as the the share of the population that they cover. Note: because this graphic is only based on agencies included in the recent report, the total number of agencies and total population is lower than it would be for the entire United States.

3. Violent Crime Fell Across Nearly All Categories

With the exception of the legacy definition of rape as discussed above, crime numbers decreased for every category of violent crime. The number of robberies experienced the steepest decline, falling more than ten percent relative to the first six months of 2013. Agencies using the revised definition of rape also had a significant decrease, though those numbers only cover about 55 percent of the population in this report. The total number of murders also had a notable decrease, going down six percent or more for the second year in a row.


4. Midwestern Crime is Dropping Faster Than the Rest of the Nation

According to the recent FBI report, violent crime decreased in every region during the first six months of 2014. The Midwest saw the largest decline at -7.6 percent, followed by the Northeast at -6.6 percent, then the South at -3 percent, ending with the West at -2.7 percent. The chart below indicates the regions defined by the FBI and the change in their violent crime levels.

Violent Crime Change by Region

Source: FBI Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report 2014, Table 2


5. Crime Dropped Across Every Population Group

The recent FBI report indicates that violent crime went down in every single population grouping. Led by cities with populations of 10,000 people or fewer, which saw a 6.7 percent decrease in overall violent crime and a 17.8 percent drop in murders. The chart below shows the change in violent crime for each of the eight population groupings used by the FBI as well as the number of law enforcement agencies in each grouping and their population coverage.

Kevin Rizzo
Kevin Rizzo is the Crime in America Editor at Law Street Media. An Ohio Native, the George Washington University graduate is a founding member of the company. Contact Kevin at



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