The FBI collects data regarding criminal offenses that are motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability and are committed against persons, property, or society. Because motivation is subjective, it is difficult to know with certainty whether a crime resulted from the offender’s bias. Moreover, the presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime. If law enforcement investigation reveals sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias, then the incident should be reported as a hate crime.
The law enforcement agencies that voluntarily participate in the hate crime program collect details about an offender’s bias motivation associated with 11 offense types already being reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation (crimes against persons); and robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism (crimes against property). The law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) collect data about additional offenses for crimes against persons and crimes against property. These data appear in Hate Crime Statistics in the category of other. These agencies also collect hate crime data for the category called crimes against society, which includes drug or narcotic offenses, gambling offenses, prostitution offenses, and weapon law violations. Together, the offense classification other and the crime category crimes against society include 35 Group A Offenses (not listed) that are captured in the NIBRS, which also collects the previously mentioned 11 offense categories. The Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, NIBRS Edition , provides an explanation of the 46 Group A Offenses.
The UCR Program’s data collection guidelines stipulate that a hate crime may involve multiple offenses, victims, and offenders within one incident; therefore, the hate crime data collection program is incident-based. According to UCR counting guidelines:
The UCR Program uses designations for race and ethnicity as established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and published in the Federal Register. The revised standards have five minimum categories for data on race and two categories for data on ethnicity. In complying with the published standards, the FBI uses the following racial designations in its hate crime data collection program: White; Black; American Indian/Alaskan Native; Asian/Pacific Islander; and Multiple Races, Group. The ethnic designations are Hispanic and Other Ethnicity/National Origin.
Law enforcement agencies may submit hate crime data in a NIBRS submission or an electronic hate crime record layout via e-mail, compact disc, zip disk, 3.5” disk, or cartridge. Agencies may also submit hate crime data on printed forms entitled the Hate Crime Incident Report and the Quarterly Hate Crime Report.
Agencies that report data to the FBI via the NIBRS use a data element within their reporting software to indicate whether an incident was motivated by bias. Because the NIBRS is an incident-based, comprehensive data collection system, these agencies can report considerably more information about a hate crime than that captured on the paper forms or in the current electronic record. For example, the data element that indicates bias motivation applies to all 46 Group A Offenses, and agencies can report information such as the age, sex, and race of victims, offenders, and arrestees. Though the additional data are not maintained in the hate crime database, they are available in the NIBRS master files.
Law enforcement agencies that prefer electronic submissions but do not report via the NIBRS may use the hate crime record layout specified in the publication Hate Crime Magnetic Media Specifications for Tapes & Diskettes (January 1997 [with subsequent amendments]). With FBI approval, agencies may use any of the previously mentioned electronic media to submit data.
Agencies that use the Hate Crime Incident Report and the Quarterly Hate Crime Report forms capture the following information about each hate crime incident:
During a calendar quarter, law enforcement agencies submit a Hate Crime Incident Report for each bias-motivated incident. At the end of each calendar quarter, agencies submit a Quarterly Hate Crime Report summarizing the total number of incidents reported for the quarter. On this form, agencies may also delete any previously reported incidents that were determined through subsequent investigation not to be bias-motivated. If no hate crime incidents occurred in their jurisdictions that quarter, the agencies must still submit the Quarterly Hate Crime Report to report zero hate crime incidents.