More than three months after FBI Director Christopher Wray promised to restore the missing crime tables in the FBI’s annual crime report, the data is nowhere to be seen.
The FBI has released an annual Crime in the United States report every year since 1930. Collated from information provided by over 18,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, it is comprehensive and thorough. Researchers and other users rely on it to capture year on year and decade on decade changes in the profile of crime in the US. Policy makers use its data to justify budgets and push new initiatives. Accurate, up-to-date data is needed for the formulation of better solutions to crime.
Missing Data, Missing Insights
The 2016 Crime in the United States report, the first one made under the auspices of the Donald Trump administration, is missing 64% of data tables from its previous iterations. According to a report from the HuffPost on November 29, 2017, among the missing data is “the relationship between victims and offenders,” making it harder to pin down the number of women killed by their domestic partners.
The 2016 report also is missing data on arrests connected to drugs, estimates on the number of gang members, and the numbers of deaths of children under 18 due to firearms in any given year.
In response to the questions raised by researchers and other concerned individuals, the FBI explained that the omissions (at least 52 data tables) were due to an effort to streamline the report.
Changes to the annual crime report have been made previously but these changes always gone through a review by the Advisory Policy Board. This was not the process followed in the production of the 2016 report.
At a hearing before Congress in early December 2017, the issue of the missing data tables was posed to FBI director Wray who responded that the missing tables would be restored in “a few weeks.”
Three months later, in March 2018, the data tables have not been released. Five US senators have requested more information on the issue from the Justice Department and Secretary Jeff Sessions.
Read more at FiveThirtyEight.