Welcome to the United Nations

Home > Action Areas > Combating transnational crime > Efforts to improve data

Efforts to improve data

The fight against transnational forms of illicit trafficking is at the core of several of the Sustainable Development Goals targets. Available data indicate that trafficking in persons is a constant threat for vulnerable population groups in many countries around the world, with an increasing number of children among the victims detected. Newly available data on trafficking in wildlife — a crime against societies, cultures and the environment — indicate that that illegal trade threatens many protected species of flora and fauna and involves all regions of the world. Promising developments should allow the monitoring of two other forms of trafficking in the near future: illicit trade in firearms and illicit financial flows.

As the Sustainable Development Goals indicator framework suggests, regular monitoring of selected crimes (homicide, violent crimes, gender-related violence, bribery, trafficking in persons, illicit financial flows, illicit firearms trafficking and wildlife trafficking) and of certain aspects of criminal justice (crime reporting rate and the share of unsentenced prisoners in detention) are key to measuring progress in strengthening the rule of law and security, improving prospects for growth and domestic resource mobilization and advancing towards sustainable development.

UNODC continues to provide advice, technical assistance and training to Member States aimed at strengthening administrative crime and criminal justice statistics. In 2015, UNODC continued to gather data on crime through a number of important data collection exercises. The United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, with an expanding network of national focal points covering 130 countries, can provide a good overview of global crime trends, though more work is needed to improve the quality and availability of data collected and disseminated. The global data collection on trafficking in persons patterns and flows, conducted annually by UNODC as per a General Assembly mandate, currently includes data for about 130 countries.

Other data collections were recently conducted by UNODC for two forms of illicit trafficking. As a response to the illicit trade of protected species of flora and fauna, a widespread organized criminal activity, UNODC has been asked to collect information on patterns and flows of illicit trafficking in wildlife and to report thereon. In addition, as part of its activities to monitor the implementation of the Firearms Protocol, UNODC maintains a data collection on firearm seizures, which has gathered statistical information from 45 countries.

These efforts have enabled UNODC to now provide the international community with comprehensive data sets on a number of indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals,  and the Office can provide Member States with methodological guidance on the measurement of several topics related to homicide and violent crime, rule of law, access to justice, forms of illicit trafficking and organized crime.

The approval of the Sustainable Development Goals and the related framework of indicators will require additional efforts to improve statistical data on crime and criminal justice at the country level. The ambitious set of targets and goals embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals needs to be accompanied by ambitious plans and activities to enable countries to produce the much-needed high-quality data for indicators selected to monitor targets under Goal 16 and other relevant targets.

Over the past few years, the work undertaken to implement the road map to improve crime statistics  has laid the foundations for better data on crime and criminal justice. Such activities have resulted in a number of outputs that offer UN Member States and the international community improved methodological guidance, technical assistance and international data collection and analysis on crime and criminal justice issues.

In 2015 the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes was adopted  by the Statistical Commission of the United Nations and the endorsement of its implementation plan by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. As the custodian of the International Classification, UNODC stewards work to produce methodological guidance on its implementation; a technical advisory group has been established and the first volume of the implementation manual for the International Classification is expected to be finalized in 2017.