Aggravated assault is a type of violent crime against persons committed with the use of physical force or the threat of such. The main purpose of assault is harm to an individual’s health, physical freedom, or physical integrity. In the USA, aggravated assault comprise over 50% of overall crime rates in the violent crime category (Hogan, Rutherford, & Pallozzi, 2014). And despite the slight decrease in assault incidents’ frequency over the last few years, the rates are associated with stability. Therefore, the analysis of trends and statistics, as well as the victimological evaluation of aggravated assault, is important for crime prevention. Analysis of statistical data may help to identify the factors of victimization and determine the regional characteristics of factors influencing the occurrence of aggravated assault offenses in Maryland, US.
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Data for aggravated assault in Maryland was found only from the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics (UCR). The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) provide merely general information about violent crime rates, and aggravated assault rates in particular, at the national scale. In this way, the UCR can be efficiently used as the primary tool for the analysis of the regional crime rate dynamics while the data collected from the NCVS and the NIBRS can be implemented to contrast and support the statistical indicators retrieved from the primary source.
According to the UCR statistics (2014), the rates of the overall estimated violent crime in Maryland gradually decreased since 1995 when 49.757 violent crime cases were reported. By 2012, the total rate was merely 28.055 (U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 2014). As stated in the UCR on crime in Maryland introduced by Hogan et al. (2014), there were 15.215 (254.6 per 100.000 of the population) aggravated assaults registered in the state during 2014. 14% of the cases were committed with the use of firearms, 25% – cutting instruments including knives, 24% – personal weapons, and 37% – other types of weapons (Hogan et al., 2014). A total number of 6.840 individuals were convicted of aggravated assault – 77% males and 23% females (Hogan et al., 2014). The dynamics demonstrate that the frequency of the crime tends to decrease. Since 2010, the number of cases became 3.683 less (Hogan et al., 2014). The majority of incidents happened in Baltimore City, the largest inhabited locality in Maryland. 4.236 cases of aggravated assault took place in the city in 2014, and merely 39 incidents were reported that year in the least populous county in the state – Kent (Hogan et al., 2014).
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) NCVS introduced by Truman and Langton (2015), in 2014, total rates of criminal victimization across the country accounted 20.1 per 1.000 of the population. The statistics make it clear that there was no significant improvement in rates since 2013. However, the rate of violent crime drastically declined since 1993 from 79.8 to 20.1 per 1,000 individuals (Truman & Langton, 2015). In 2014, the cases of aggravated assault victimization comprised 1.092.090 (4.1 per 1.000 persons) while the incidents of simple assault equaled 3.318.920 (Truman & Langton, 2015). Overall, the rate of assault frequency (both types) takes a leading position among other types of offenses in the category of violent crime. When speaking of aggravated assault alone, it is at the fifth position in the category. The report also provides data for the rates of crime victims who received support from victim service agencies. In 2014, only 10.5% of violent crime victims (including victims of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault) received victim service assistance (Truman & Langton, 2015).
According to the FBI’s (2014) NIBRS data, among total 1.261.784 cases of crimes against persons committed in 2014 in the USA, the total number of assault offenses was 1.165.909. The statistics from the 2011 report 1.226.300 total assault offenses (FBI, 2011). It means that the rate dynamics slightly decline. It is observed that individuals of 16-40 years old become victimized more often than younger or older persons. There were 182.801 victims of 21-25 years old, and 157.046 victims of 25-30 years old (FBI, 2014). The rate of victimization declines as the demographic variable shifts towards older age indicators.
Although there are some variations in data retrieved from three distinct sources, the identified dynamics of overall assault frequency rates, including aggravated assault rates, are similar. The UCR, the NCVS, and the NIBRS data make it clear that there is an apparent yet insignificant decline in aggravated assault offense frequency rates. The national frequency statistics from the NCVS and the NIBRS match with the UCR regional statistical information for Maryland.
The major variations in reports are caused by the differences in focus on problems related to crimes. For example, the UCR on crime in Maryland provides a thorough overview of the frequency and location of victimization, analysis of trends over five year period, and some information about demographics of offenders. At the same time, the NCVS and the FBI’s NIBRS provide nationwide statistics on victimization frequency and victims’ demographics. In this way, it is possible to say that all three sources complement each other, and the comparison of information from each of them helps to conduct a detailed analysis of crime tendencies at both national and local levels.
Although it is observed that the problem of assault victimization slightly diminishes over recent decades, it still provokes significant concerns because the analysis makes it clear that assault is the most frequent type of crime. Aggravated assault is among the most harmful offenses against individuals and society because it violates vital human rights and harms important social values. In this way, the victimological analysis of crime statistics may help to identify significant victimological and criminological characteristics of aggravated assault or other types of crimes in order to attain the opportunity to increase control over criminal incidents and victimization through the implementation of practices for criminological prevention and victimological intervention.
Victimologists may use statistical data to design victimological interventions aimed at minimization and reduction of victimization factors identified through the evaluation of victim and offender demographic indicators and crime frequency rates. Victimization may be regarded as the process of acquisition of particular victim qualities, both subjective and objective. While subjective victim qualities are related to personal characteristics and identities and thus cannot be considered in victimologists’ analysis, the objective factors include socioeconomic status, level of social security in relation to ethnicity, age, gender, location of residence, etc.
These objective victimization factors increase the risk for individual exposure to offense and involvement in a conflict situation. Moreover, in conditions of social insecurity, the greater part of the population may become involved in criminal activity under the influence of the adverse environmental factors. In this way, victimologists should use demographic crime statistics to reduce active victimization of the population through the development and implementation of methods that will ensure the legal protection of victim rights and interests and will help those who are at risk of victimization to reduce negative factors and adopt the norms of adequate behavior in criminal situations.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2011). Incidents, offenses, victims, and known offenders by offense category, 2011. Web.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2014). Victims age by offense category, 2014. Web.
Hogan, L., Rutherford, B., & Pallozzi, W. (2014). Crime in Maryland: 2014 Uniform Crime Report. Web.
Truman, J., & Langton, L. (2015). Criminal Victimization, 2014. Web.
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U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2014). Results from state-level crime estimates database. Web.