Just knowing the count of crimes in your area is often not enough to make informed decisions. For instance, suppose there were 200 assaults last year in your community. Is that a lot or a little? How does it compare to surrounding areas? Were 200 assaults higher or lower than the previous year? How does that change compare to changes nationwide?
The Pinkerton Crime Index provides multiple ways to interpret local crime risk for violent, property, and total crime, and PCI provides the needed context for understanding how that risk compares to other communities and how it is changing over time. (Read more about What is the Most Accurate Measure of Crime?)
Crime risk percentile ranking and color coding
An index score is expressed as a multiple of national median crime risk. A 1.0x is equal to the median national risk, 0.5x is half of the median crime risk, and 2.0x is twice the median crime risk, which allows you to instantly place your measure of risk relative to other neighborhoods in a country. (Read about our Methodology)
Throughout the Pinkerton Crime Index dashboards and reports, crime scores are color-coded using percentile rankings and an associated qualitative value. Green is associated with low risk (0-25% percentile), green-yellow with low-medium risk (25-50%), yellow-orange with medium-high (50-75%), and orange-dark red signifies high risk (75-100%). Percentile rankings can be interpreted as the percent of neighborhoods in the country with a lower crime score than the selected neighborhood. For instance, the 25th percentile would signify that 25% of neighborhoods in the country have lower crime risk. High-risk neighborhoods are defined as neighborhoods in the 75th percentile or higher, meaning that at least 75% of neighborhoods across the country have lower crime risk.
Relative crime risk across countries
Importantly, because scores are relative to other neighborhoods within a country, it is not possible to directly compare scores across countries. For instance, a score of 2.0x in Mexico has a different meaning than a 2.0x in the United States (the national median crime level is different across the two countries).
Similarly, a low-risk neighborhood in Mexico is shown as low risk relative to other neighborhoods in Mexico and has a different overall level of crime risk relative to a low-risk neighborhood in the U.K., U.S., or Australia. Because data reporting and availability dramatically differ across countries, comparisons are kept within country to evince the most meaningful and accurate information.
Local crime trends
In addition to describing risk in relative terms, PCI products also show the history of crime in your area over time, with monthly time series and a 12-month rolling average. These time series are presented at both the county/district scale and the state/region scale (depending on the selected country). This allows you to see how crime is evolving in your area and compare current levels of risk relative to past values. Additionally, PCI reports and dashboards provide one-year and five-year trends for total, violent, and property crimes, providing a concrete statistic denoting changes in your area.
Each release of a Pinkerton Crime Index edifies and further informs prior releases, which are continuously being improved. Pinkerton draws from over 170 years of professional risk protection, availing itself of innovative technologies to build upon real-world expertise. Understanding the story of crime can contextualize the risks faced in your neighborhood and region and help decision-makers anticipate approaching challenges.