research has grown exponentially as programs develop, service resources are allocated, and programs and policies are evaluated. Most federal justice grants have required evaluation components for at least a decade, another source of increased demand for victimization research at the state and local levels.
One side note related to efforts to understand victim characteristics and victimization is in order. Some states and jurisdictions have implemented incident-based reporting systems and, specifically, systems compliant with the National Incident-Based Reporting System (see McManus, 2002). Contemporary records management and incident-based systems hold promise for capturing victim data linked to offenders and crime characteristics, but this promise is yet to be realized on any scale. While NIBRS and similar data may comment on victim-offender relationships and characteristics, these data remain constrained, since they represent reported offenses. In many jurisdictions, however, incident-based or NIBRS data are the only small area victim data available and have been used for policy, planning, and evaluation in the absence of comprehensive victimization data.
Legislative and Executive Support Crime policy bills are quite prevalent in legislatures around the country, with few actually making it into law. However, extensive debate occurs and requires reasoned analysis. Policy is often driven by celebrated cases, and crime data are needed to debunk myths or unusual circumstances. The dangers of the lack of information are less effective policies and poor allocation of state and federal resources.
Having data over time is also extremely important, although the desirable time intervals of measures may vary. In some rural jurisdictions, victimization patterns may not change quickly enough to warrant annual surveys. Victimization data may not be able to comment specifically on the efficacy of particular programs, but over the long term these data are critical to understanding larger impacts of policies on crime and victimization patterns.
Arguably, the most significant challenge faced by the NCVS—and largest constraint on its survival—is the availability of funding resources. As described in Chapter 1, BJS has been subject to essentially flat funding for a number of years, constraining options on the NCVS as the cost of conducting the survey has grown. Accordingly, it is important to consider the question of the value of the information that the NCVS provides. This can be done formally, as suggested by the framework outlined in Box 3-1. In