Technical Notes

  1. Purpose and scope of the PSCCS

    The 2018 Philippine Standard Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (PSCCS) is the first edition of the country’s classification of crimes. It is a hierarchical classification where criminal offenses are allocated into categories that have a certain degree of similarity. It is patterned after the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS, v. 1.0) developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) as the standard international classification for crime statistics in March 2015.

    The 2018 PSCCS serves as a comprehensive framework for classifying criminal offenses in the country to facilitate analysis of crime, harmonize data across criminal justice institutions, and facilitate assessment of gaps between crimes reported to the police and those experienced by the victims.

  2. Principles used in the PSCCS

    1.1 The definition of crime for the purposes of the PSCCS

    The vast disparity in approaches and sources used in the establishment of criminal laws by different countries makes it impossible to create a consistent and comprehensive definition of crime. While certain common elements such as “harm” and “wrongfulness”, can be associated with crime, they cannot wholly and operationally define it. The common denominator of what constitutes a “crime” is that it consists of behaviors which are defined as criminal offenses and are punishable as such by law. The offenses defined as criminal are established by each country’s legal system and the codification of crimes (criminal code, penal code, etc.)

    1.2 The unit of classification of the PSCCS

    The unit of classification of the PSCCS is the act that constitutes a criminal offense. The description of criminal offense is provided in terms of the behavior shown by the perpetrator(s) of a crime. The apparent behavior is in most cases sufficient to define an offense for the purposes of the PSCCS, while in some cases additional elements need to be taken into account, such as the intentionality (state of mind) of the   perpetrator or the condition/status of the victim (for example, whether he/she is a minor);

    Defining and classifying the type of crime is the primary focus of the classification, which aims to assign all criminal offenses to categories on the basis of a number of criteria. The PSCCS also provides for a number of additional attributes of the crime, of which, though not determinant of the nature of the crime, are very important additions that provide analytical insight to statistical data on crime, such as selected characteristics of victims or perpetrators.

    Besides classifying criminal offenses, the PSCCS can also be used in relation to other events or conditions related to the criminal justice process, such as arrests, prosecutions, convictions and prison sentences, as well as persons involved as perpetrators or victims. If consistently used by all relevant data sources, the PSCCS can measure the flows and links between the different stages of the criminal justice system. For example, if the PSCCS is applied at all stages of the criminal justice process, links can be made between data on a given offense (whether from administrative data or from victimizations surveys), the number of arrests for the same type of offense and, in sequence, on prosecutions, convictions and on persons in prison for the same type of offense.

    1.3 The application of the principles of statistical classification

    The PSCCS is based on established statistical practices and principles. The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines a statistical classification as “a set of discrete, exhaustive and mutually exclusive observations, which can be assigned to one or more variables to be measured in the collation and/or presentation of data.” Particular care has been taken that the following core characteristics of an international statistical classification have been implemented in the PSCCS:

         1.3.1 Exhaustiveness: every possible manifestation of the phenomenon under the study should be included in the classification

    While the PSCCS aims to cover every manifestation of a crime, it is clear that this principle needs to be adopted with due consideration as to what is feasible. The sheer number of acts criminalized in statutes, regulatory provisions and judicial decisions in any given country, as well as continuous legislative changes, hamper any attempt to build a comprehensive listing of all criminal offenses that exist globally. A realistic goal for the classification is thus to capture acts or events generally known to constitute criminal offenses at a certain level of detail, determined by carefully balancing the classification for practicality and policy-relevance at the international level. In addition, the PSCCS does not include classification categories for crimes that generally constitute administrative offenses (such as minor traffic violation).

    It is important to note that the PSCCS should not be viewed as supporting or legitimizing the criminalization of any offense presented within the classification, but be taken as a statistical standard that attempts to provide realistic, global coverage of every manifestation of crime for statistical purposes.

         1.3.2 Mutual exclusivity: every elementary manifestation of the phenomenon under study should be assigned to one and only one category of the classification such that there are no overlaps

    The PSCCS can be used to classify every offense into one and only category of the classification with no overlaps. The description of each category clearly defines the respective event/behavior with additional guidance provided by legal inclusions and exclusions (examples of criminal offenses in national legislation that are respectively included in, or excluded from, that category), which will further clarify the boundaries of each category.

         1.3.3 Statistical feasibility: it is possible to effectively, accurately and consistently distinguish between the categories in the classification on the basis of the information available.

    The statistical feasibility of a statistical classification means that observations can be allocated to categories in the classification on the basis of the information available, for example, on the basis of responses to questions that can be reasonably asked in statistical surveys or in administrative forms. The PSCCS supports this by carefully defining the criminal act on the basis of behavioral descriptions, supplemented with examples of legal inclusions and exclusions for each category.

    In the Philippines, crime is defined as the act and omission punishable by law; it is also referred to as felony. (Source: The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. Chapter 1, Article 3 of Act No. 3815, “An Act Revising the Penal Code and Other Penal Laws”. 1930).

    Similar to the ICCS, the unit of classification of the PSCCS is the act that constitutes a criminal offense. The description of the criminal offense is provided in terms of the behavior shown by the perpetrator(s) of a crime. The apparent behavior is in most cases sufficient to define an offense for the purposes of the PSCCS, while in some cases, additional elements need to be taken into account, such as the intentionality (state of mind) of the perpetrator of the conditions/status of the victim (for example, whether he/she is a minor).

    Criminal offenses can be classified based on the following: (a) their impact on victims, (b) the way they have been perpetrated, (c) the offender’s motive, and  (d) the seriousness of the offense, to name but a few. In building the classification, priority has been given to criteria which are particularly relevant from a policy perspective: the PSCCS categories, and the data produced accordingly, should provide information that can be easily understood and used when developing crime prevention and criminal justice policies.

    A set of criteria was used to build the hierarchical structure of the PSCCS in an attempt to build categories that can respond to a variety of information needs. The following criteria were used to form categories of the PSCCS:

        1. Policy area of the act/event (protection of property rights, protection of health, etc.)
        2. Target of the act/event (e.g. person, object, natural environment, State, etc.)
        3. Seriousness of the act/event (e.g. acts leading to death, acts causing harm, etc.)
        4. Means by which the act/event is perpetrated (e.g. by violence, threat of violence, etc.)

    The 2018 PSCCS contains eleven (11) sections designed to cover all acts or events that constitute a crime within the scope of the PSCCS.


  1. Coding System

    The numerical coding of the categories is in accordance with their level in the classification:

Level Number of digit code Example
1 Section Two (2) digit code 01
2 Division Four (4) digit code 0101
3 Group Five (5) digit code 01010
4 Class Six (6) digit code 010100
5 Sub-class Seven (7) digit code 0101001

For Example:

Murder – PSCCS Code 0101002


The PSCCS is aligned with ICCS at the class level (6-digit). Hence, sub-class level (7-digit) are offenses unique to the Philippines.

  1. Application of the PSCCS

    1.1 Classifying offenses for the purpose of PSCCS

    To implement the PSCCS, it is necessary to properly allocate any given offense to one of the PSCCS categories. This requires knowledge of the PSCCS structure before attempting to classify offenses. As previously mentioned, the PSCCS is a hierarchical classification and the first step is to identify which Section category is the most relevant to the particular offense in question. To allow easy reference to the appropriate category, each Section (category) is defined by the broad actions, attributes or events that it encompasses. For example, all acts leading to death or intending to cause death are classified under Section 01. Similarly, all injurious acts of a sexual nature are classified under Section 03.

    It is then necessary to classify an offense into a Level 2, 3 or 4 category. This can be done by identifying the shorthand name in criminal legislation, such as rape, consulting the act/event-based definitions, and following guidance from the legal inclusions and exclusions. Guidance from all elements in the PSCCS is necessary to correctly classify an offense. The use of shorthand names alone, however, is insufficient as its meaning and definition may be different from what is used in national legal systems and may even vary between jurisdictions within countries.

    There are residual categories represented by the word “other” in the category name (i.e. other acts of fraud) for cases in which an offense cannot be classified in an established category. Offenses should be classified into these residual categories as sparingly as possible and only upon a thorough review of the full classification to ensure that a category is not overlooked.

    1.2 The use of legal inclusions and exclusions in the PSCCS


    Each category has a list of inclusions or examples of offenses or acts/events to be classified in that category. These are not sub-categories but common offenses belonging to the respective category listed, with the aim of providing practical guidance in the allocation of offenses and of distinguishing the boundary between one category and another. For example, the inclusions under “Trade or possession of protected or prohibited species of fauna and flora” (1003) stipulate that trafficking in wildlife and unlawful trade possession of wildlife are some of the offenses that belong to this category. Inclusions are not exhaustive and the list of inclusions can be further expanded in the future.


    Most categories also have a list of exclusions or examples of offenses or acts/elements that are classified elsewhere despite similarities to the category in question. Following each excluded offense is the code referring to the category to which excluded offense should be allocated. For example, the exclusions under “Trade or possession of protected or prohibited species of fauna and flora” (1003) stipulate that robbery of livestock is coded 04014; offenses against the treatment, raising or keeping of animals is coded 10091; and the theft of livestock is coded 05025.

    Together, inclusions and exclusions assist in reinforcing mutual exclusiveness. They clarify boundaries between categories to ensure acts/events can be assigned to one category.

    Several agencies gather and compile crime statistics in the Philippines. The 2018 PSCCS shall cover statistics generated by the five (5) pillars of the Philippine Criminal Justice System, namely law enforcement, prosecution, courts, correction and community.

  • Law enforcement – in charge of the prevention and control of crime, enforcement of law, and arrest of the offenders
  • Prosecution – takes care of the investigation of the complaint to determine probable cause to proceed with the filling of case against the suspect
  • Courts – tasked to prove the innocence or guilt of the accused
  • Correction – concerned with the reformation and rehabilitation of inmates
  • Community – responsible for the integration of the convicted offender to the mainstream of society.