Police statistics hit by six-month delay

Written by Alan Robertson on 17 March 2015 in News

Domestic abuse incidents among publications that have been pushed back amid problems gathering data

Official statistics on various incidents recorded by Police Scotland, including domestic abuse, face a six-month delay amid fresh IT difficulties to hit the single force, Holyrood has learned.

The Scottish Government said it has taken the “sensible decision” to revise the release dates of four annual publications following problems encountered by police pulling together the necessary information.  

Domestic abuse incidents as well as racist incidents recorded by the police in 2013-14, which were to be published this month and next respectively, are to now be pushed back until October.

Figures on drug seizures by Police Scotland and recorded crimes and offences involving firearms, both of which were scheduled for release next month, have also been affected.

Police Scotland said the delay was not due to questions over the accuracy of raw data but rather difficulties faced in collating from a host of IT systems that predated the single force going live in April 2013.

The announcement comes just a month on from the service’s handling of data on the consensual stop and search of young people under 12 being subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the delay was necessary to ensure standards required by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics are maintained and all data “fully and properly collated”. 

“Moving from eight police forces with eight different data systems into one police service with one consistent data system was always going to be a highly complex task,” she added. 

“It is important to get things right and we need to collectively ensure that during that transition period all statistical information continues to be of the highest quality before it is published.

“That is exactly what we are doing, and will continue to do, and why we are taking the sensible decision to revise the publication dates for a short period.”

Testing on i6 – a single national integrated solution – is currently under way with national rollout scheduled to run from this September. The system is expected to be fully implemented three-and-a-half years on from the launch of Police Scotland.

Deputy chief constable Neil Richardson said the force remains committed to meeting the necessary standards for statistical publications in the period before the new national system goes live. 

“While we have put in place stand-alone databases that provide us with the management information required to deliver high levels of operational decision making, for the collection of statistical data required by the Scottish Government we are, at present, having to work from the old legacy systems as well as from those interim sites,” he said. 

“We are, however, working alongside our statistical colleagues from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Police Authority to make sure that we resolve these data collection issues as quickly as possible, given the IT constraints we are working with, and until we can work from the one, Scotland-wide computer network.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said that no one system was responsible for the complexities in collection when asked why these four particular publications were affected. 

SPA chief executive John Foley said the oversight body was working with Police Scotland and the Government to ensure data is gathered for publication “as quickly as practicable”.

“Oversight of this work, and any further improvement work identified, will be considered by the multi-agency performance assurance group which the SPA chairs,” he added.

Last June Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland warned relying on legacy systems within road policing is “constraining the ability of officers to function fully at a regional or national level”.

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