What is the National Crime Information Center?
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is the United States central database that is used for tracking crime-related information. Since 1967, the National Crime Information Center has been maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services Division and is interlinked with similar systems that are maintained by each state in the country.
The original purpose of the NCIC system was to create a centralized information system to facilitate the flow of information and crime data between the numerous law enforcement branches in the federal government. It is widely considered to be the lifeline of police officers and law enforcement detectives that is used by every criminal justice agency in the country around the clock.
National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Records
The NCIC makes available a variety of records to be used for law enforcement and security purposes. These criminal records are made up of a variety of forms of personal and property records.
What Types of Data Does the NCIC Contain?
The NCIC stores data and statistics on crime that is received from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as lesser-known law enforcement agencies such as tribal law police forces, railroad police, and non-law enforcement agencies, such as state and federal motor vehicle registration and licensing authorities.
The NCIC database currently consists of 21 files: Seven property files containing records of stolen articles, boats, guns, license plates, parts, securities, and vehicles. There are 14 person files, including Supervised Release; National Sex Offender Registry; Foreign Fugitive; Immigration Violator; Missing Person; Protection Order; Unidentified Person; Protective Interest; Gang; Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorist; Wanted Person; Identity Theft; Violent Person; and National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction.
The system also contains images that can be associated with NCIC records to help agencies identify people and property items. The Interstate Identification Index, which contains automated criminal history record information, is accessible through the same network. The NCIC database includes 21 files (seven property files and 14 person files). Following is a brief description of each:
The article file contains records and information on stolen articles and lost public safety, homeland security, and critical infrastructure identification. Learn more about the FBI Stolen Articles Database.
The gun file includes records on stolen, lost, and recovered weapons. Also, it has information on weapons used in the commission of crimes designated to expel a projectile by air, carbon dioxide, or explosive action.
The boat file contains details on stolen boats and marine vehicles.
The securities section has information on securities that are serially numbered, stolen, embezzled, used for ransom, or counterfeit.
The vehicle file contains details on stolen vehicles. It includes data and information on vehicles used in the commission of crimes or vehicles that may be seized based on a federally issued court order.
Vehicle and Boat Parts File
The Vehicle and Boat Parts File contains records on the stolen vehicle or boat parts, with serial numbers.
License Plate File
The License Plate File has records on stolen vehicle license plates. See also: List of DMV Offices and License Plates.
Missing Persons File
The Missing Persons File has records on individuals, including children, who have been reported missing to law enforcement, and there is a reasonable concern for their safety. It includes abductions and kidnappings. Learn more about missing persons.
Foreign Fugitive File
The Foreign Fugitive File has records on people who are wanted by another country for a crime that would be considered a felony if it were committed in the United States.
Identity Theft File
The Identity Theft File is full of content containing descriptive and other information that law enforcement personnel can use to determine if an individual is a victim of identity theft or if the individual might be using a false identity.
Immigration Violator File
The Immigration Violator File has data and information on criminal aliens whom immigration authorities have deported and illegal aliens with outstanding administrative warrants of removal.
Protection Order File
Protection Order File: Contains records on individuals against whom protection orders have been issued.
Supervised Release File
Supervised Release File: Records on individuals on probation, parole, supervised release, or released on their recognizance or during pre-trial sentencing.
Unidentified Persons File
Unidentified Person File: Records on unknown deceased persons, living persons who are unable to verify their identities, unidentified victims of catastrophes, and recovered body parts. The file cross-references unidentified bodies against records in the Missing Persons File.
Protective Interest File
Protective Interest: Details on individuals who might threaten the physical safety of protectees or their immediate families. Expands on the U.S. Secret Service Protective File, initially created in 1983.
Gang File: Records on violent gangs, crimes, and their members. See also: Gang Warning Signs.
Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorist File
Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorist File: Information on known or appropriately suspected terrorists per HSPD-6. See more about terrorism.
Wanted Persons File
Wanted Person File: Records on individuals (including juveniles who will be tried as adults) for whom a federal warrant or a felony or misdemeanor warrant is outstanding. See also: Most Wanted Criminals.
National Sex Offender Registry File
National Sex Offender Registry File: Records on individuals who must register in a jurisdiction’s sex offender registry. Learn more about sex offender registries.
NICS Denied Transaction File
National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction File: Records on individuals determined to be “prohibited persons” according to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act were denied due to a NICS background check. (As of August 2012, records include the last six months of denied transactions; in the future, records will include all denials). Learn more about Background Checks.
Violent Person File
Violent Person File: Once fully populated with user data, this file will contain records of persons with a violent criminal history and persons who have previously threatened law enforcement.
How do Law Enforcement Agencies use the National Crime Information Center?
Criminal justice agencies enter NCIC records accessible to law enforcement agencies nationwide. For example, a law enforcement officer can search NCIC during a traffic stop to determine if the vehicle in question is stolen or if the driver is wanted by law enforcement. The system responds instantly.
However, a positive response from NCIC is not probable cause for an officer to take action. Their policy requires the inquiring agency to contact the entering agency to verify the information is accurate and up-to-date. Once the record is confirmed, the inquiring agency may take action to arrest a fugitive, return a missing person, charge a subject with a violation of a protection order, or recover stolen property.
Questions and Comments
For more information, visit the FBI website. If you have questions about the National Crime Information Center, please post a message below.