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Bureau of Justice Statistics Assessment of the Rape and Sexual Assault Pilot Test

NCJ Number
256009
Date Published
January 2021
Length
10 pages
Author(s)
Jeffrey H. Anderson Ph.D.; Allen J. Beck Ph.D.
Agencies
BJS
Annotation

This assessment report conducted by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) was published in connection with the third-party report on the results of a BJS Pilot Test of a new methodology for measuring rape and sexual assault that would collect more accurate statistics on the nature and frequency of those crimes.

Abstract

The current assessment by BJS evaluates the Pilot Test methodology, providing context for interpreting data presented in the third-party report. The Pilot Test surveyed about 5,800 females ages 18 to 49 who resided within one of five metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in 2014 and 2015. The areas are Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Phoenix. Through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, state and local law enforcement agencies report to the FBI how many rapes are reported to law enforcement each year, including in the five MSAs in the Pilot Test. A comparison of the data obtained from the Pilot test with the UCR and the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) found notable disparities between the statistics of the Pilot Test and those reported by the UCR and NCVS. After reviewing the causes of these differences, this report identifies eight problems associated with the Pilot Test’s methodology. They related to the pressure on the women to respond, not being framed as a crime survey, not incorporating women’s views on crime, classification inconsistencies, inconsistencies across interviews, problems with inability to consent, inconsistent answers overriding narratives and other answers, and problems with use of force. Despite these methodological concerns, the Pilot Test provided some useful insights about the comparative results produced by different survey modes and among different survey populations. Lessons learned have helped inform BJS’ efforts to provide more accurate statistics on other crimes.

Date Created: January 11, 2021