Development of the current nationwide Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program began over fifty years ago. In 1930, crime counts were first requested from local police departments with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) designated by Congress to collect, compile and analyze the statistics. The Committee on Uniform Crime Records of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) played a primary role in the origin and development of UCR and today serves in a strong advisory capacity. Standardized offense classification and counting procedures developed by the IACP are the basis for the UCR program. The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) also serves in an advisory role to the national program. The publication, Crime in the United States, is the annual report published by the FBI dealing with national crime statistics.
In recent years the FBI has actively assisted states in the development of state level UCR programs compatible with the national system.
South Carolina was one of the first states to implement an operational state UCR program. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is the agency administering the program. The information collected and the uniform classification under which it is collected are based directly upon the guidelines developed by the IACP and FBI.
Upon initiation of the South Carolina UCR program in July, 1973, SLED, in conjunction with the FBI, held workshops around the state to instruct or refresh the county and city law enforcement agencies on the scope of the program and the mechanics of completing the forms.
Since that time, SLED, along with the local law enforcement agencies, has instituted an incident-based records management system which has greatly enhanced and improved the quality of information gathered under the Uniform Crime Reports system. Under this procedure, crime data and other information gathered by municipal and county law enforcement agencies are collected and submitted to SLED on a daily, monthly and annual basis. This new system lent itself to a more complete and accurate crime reporting system which, in most instances, alleviated some of the paperwork with which many departments had been burdened. An additional advantage of using standard incident and booking reports was realized from the uniformity of documents. Standardized reports facilitated the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies within the state. The forms have been included in the report writing classes taught at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
In 1991 South Carolina became one of the first states to implement the new National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) which was developed by the FBI, using our state as a model and demonstration site. The NIBRS is an enhanced version of the previous South Carolina system and is currently in various stages of implementation in other states. The system is expected to be in nationwide use in a few years.
The fundamental objectives of the South Carolina Uniform Crime Reporting Program are:
(1) To inform the governor, legislature, other governmental officials and the public as to the nature of the crime problem in South Carolina.
(2) To provide law enforcement administrators with criminal statistics for administrative and operational use.
(3) To determine who commits crimes by age, sex, race and other attributes in order to find the proper focus for crime prevention and enforcement.
(4) To provide base data and statistics to help measure the workload and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.
(5) To provide base data for research to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and performance of criminal justice agencies.
A particularly important goal of the state UCR program is to return statistical information to the contributors. With implementation of the new incident reporting system, participating police agencies furnish data that are classified, coded, and then returned to each jurisdiction in the form of monthly printouts. The information enables them to make decisions in budgeting, manpower allocations and the identification of high crime areas.
This information is also forwarded by SLED to the FBI on a monthly basis for inclusion in the FBI's annual UCR publication.
In reporting offenses to the Uniform Crime Reports program, crimes are classified according to standard definitions that are used throughout the nation (given in later sections of this publication). The UCR definitions are designed to insure that offenses with different titles under the laws of the various states are appropriately classified and counted under the UCR program. Crimes are classified without regard to the findings of courts or juries, since the statistics are gathered primarily to assist in identifying areas of concern to law enforcement officers, and not meant to reflect the outcomes of inquests, hearings or trials.
Each year when Crime in South Carolina is published, many entities - news media, tourism agencies, and others with an interest in crime in our State, compile rankings of cities and counties based on their Crime Index figures. These simplistic and/or incomplete analyses often create misleading perceptions which adversely affect cities and counties, along with their residents. Assessing criminality and law enforcement's response from jurisdiction to jurisdiction must encompass many elements, some of which, while having significant impact, are not readily measurable nor applicable pervasively among all locales. Geographic and demographic factors specific to each jurisdiction must be considered and applied if crime assessment is to approach completeness and accuracy. There are several sources of information which may assist the responsible researcher. The U.S. Bureau of the Census data, for example, can be utilized to better understand the makeup of a locale's population. The transience of the population, its composition by age and gender, education levels, and prevalent family structures are some factors to be considered in assessing and better understanding the crime issue.
The National League of Cities provides information regarding the economic and cultural makeup of cities and counties. Understanding a jurisdiction's industrial/economic base, its dependence upon neighboring jurisdictions, its transportation system, its economic dependence on nonresidents (such as tourists and convention attendees), its proximity to military reservations, etc., all help in better gauging and interpreting the crime known to and reported by law enforcement. More detailed information can, of course, be obtained from a city's or county's chamber of commerce, planning/information office, or other similar entity.
The strength (personnel and other resources) and the aggressiveness of a jurisdiction's law enforcement agency are also key factors. For example, one city may report more crime than a comparable one, not because there is more crime, but because its law enforcement agency through proactive efforts, such as "sting operations," identifies more offenses. Attitudes of the citizens toward crime and their crime reporting practices, especially concerning more minor offenses, have an impact on the volume of crimes known to police.
It is incumbent upon all data users to become as well educated as possible about how to categorize and quantify the nature and extent of crime in South Carolina. Valid assessments are only possible with careful study and analysis of the various unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.
Historically, the causes and origins of crime have been the subjects of investigation by varied disciplines. Some factors which are known to affect the volume and type of crime occurring from place to place are:
Population density and degree of urbanization with size of locality and its surrounding area.
Variations in composition of the population, particularly youth concentration.
Stability of population with respect to residents' mobility, commuting patterns, and transient factors.
Modes of transportation and highway system.
Economic conditions, including median income, poverty level,and job availability.
Cultural factors, such as educational, recreational, and religious characteristics.
Family conditions with respect to divorce and family cohesiveness. Climate.
Effective strength of law enforcement agencies.
Administrative, investigative, and reporting emphases of law enforcement.
Policies of other components of the criminal justice system (i.e., prosecutorial, judicial, correctional, and probational).
Citizens attitudes toward crime.
Crime reporting practices of citizenry.
Crime in South Carolina gives a statewide view of crime based on statistics contributed by state and local law enforcement agencies. Population size is the only correlate of crime utilized in this publication. While the other factors listed above are of equal concern, no attempt is made to relate them to the data presented. The reader is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual cities, counties, or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage.
The tabulation presented in the tables, graphs, and charts in this publication indicate the volume, fluctuation, and distribution of crime in South Carolina on the basis of a crime index. The crime figures are categorized by agency,county and state on the basis of information submitted by police agencies from these areas. The seven offenses comprising the crime index are:
|1. Murder||3. Robbery||5. Breaking or Entering||7.Motor Veh.Theft|
|2. Rape||4. Agg.Assault||6. Larceny|
Definitions of these seven offenses can be found elsewhere in this book under their separate headings.
The crime index is used as a basic measure of crime. The crimes were selected for use as an index on the basis of their serious nature, their frequency of occurrence, and the reliability of reporting from citizens to law enforcement agencies. The offenses of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault are categorized as violent crimes. Offenses of breaking or entering, larceny and motor vehicle theft are classed as nonviolent crimes. The crime index is the total of these offenses that come to the attention of law enforcement agencies.
In reviewing crime index figures, the reader should bear in mind that there is currently no way of determining the total number of crimes committed. The crime index has been established to measure only the instances of crime which come to the attention of law enforcement agencies. It is important to remember in reviewing the tables and graphs in this report that the volume of crime in a given area or municipality is related to the crime factors previously listed in this report.
The crime rate indicates the number of Index Crimes per unit of population, generally per 10,000. It should be noted that the rate only takes into consideration the numerical factor of population and does not incorporate any of the other elements which contribute to the amount of crime in a given community. The effect of changes in population on rates should be kept in mind when attempting to make a comparison of crime rates.
The population data used in this report are supplied by the State Data Center, Division of Research and Statistical Services. For the twenty year Crime in South Carolina Rates per 10,000 population table, found on pages 16-17, U.S. Bureau of the Census preliminary population estimates for South Carolina are used for the years 1981-1989, rounded to the nearest thousand. S.C. Division of Research and Statistical Services population estimates as of July 1 of each year are used for the years 1990-2000, rounded to the nearest thousand, unless noted otherwise.
Changes in the numbers of offenses and arrests from year to year are shown in a number of tables in the publication. The percent change shown after any figure reflects a comparison to information reported the previous year.
Percentages shown in this publication may not add to 100 due to gross rounding (usually shown to the nearest tenth, but sometimes to the nearest whole). Percentages under 0.5 are shown as zero percent on all pie charts.
Any data published here concerning figures for prior years supersede those in previous reports.