This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 . The Act gives the Statistics Authority power to re-assess whether the Code of Practice for Official Statistics continues to be complied with in relation to official statistics already designated as National Statistics. The report covers the set of statistics reported in Recorded Crime in Scotland, produced by the Scottish Government.
The previous assessment of this set of statistics was reported in Assessment report 2 . The Authority has chosen to reassess these statistics partly due to the nature of concerns raised in our recent Assessment report 268 Statistics on Crime in England and Wales. As our assessment progressed, it became increasingly apparent that the creation of a single police force (the Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland)) represented a significant change in the crime recording landscape and provided a further rationale for a reassessment.
This report was prepared by the Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Assessment Committee on behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Head of Assessment.
Decision concerning designation as National Statistics
The Statistics Authority notes that the Scottish Government is responsible for the validation of police recorded crime data and the production and publication of police recorded crime statistics. Police Scotland is responsible for providing annual police recorded crime data to the Scottish Government and carries out internal audits of these data, which are reported internally and to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA). In addition, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s (HMICS) independent reviews of Police Scotland can include inspections of police recorded crime data and the practices of recording them.
The Authority expects any producer of statistics to consider the limitations and risks of the underlying data, and to seek appropriate assurance that the data are of sufficient quality such that the statistics meet users’ needs. In the context of high profile statistics such as police recorded crime, the Authority has been clear that systematic published audit of the underlying data is essential to increase both the quality of, and public confidence in, these statistics. In line with this position, the Authority considers that police recorded crime data in Scotland are of high public interest, that these data should be the subject of independent scrutiny and that the Scottish Government should obtain and provide strong levels of assurance about their quality.
However, this report concludes that the Scottish Government lacks sufficient evidence to be able to provide such appropriate reassurance. The Authority considers that the Scottish Government has not created, and put into practice, a coherent framework for considering the quality of the underlying data, and does not have sufficient information about the quality of the police recorded crime data. It is therefore unable to make users fully aware of any potential limitations of the recorded crime statistics.
The Authority typically allows a three month period for producers to meet Requirements in Assessment reports. On that basis, and given the available evidence, the Authority considers that the Scottish Government will not be able to gather the information it needs to inform these considerations in that time.
These statistics were confirmed as National Statistics in a letter to the Scottish Government in March 2010 . It is a statutory requirement on the producer body to continue to ensure that it produces the set of statistics designated as National Statistics in compliance with the Code of Practice. The Authority considers that the Scottish Government has not provided sufficient evidence of ongoing compliance with the majority of the Principles of the Code of Practice for these National Statistics since the last Assessment. The Requirements for the Scottish Government contained in this report reflect the extent of noncompliance across the breadth of the Principles and Protocols in the Code of Practice.
The Requirements in this report (listed in section 1.5) cover a wide range of Principles and Practices of the Code of Practice. In many cases, these Requirements relate to elements of the Code that we find that most statistical producers comply with as a matter of course, such as publishing minutes of key meetings. The Requirements cover four main themes (some Requirements are applicable to more than one theme): • Failure to meet the required standards for user engagement and documenting the uses of the statistics (Requirements 1, 2, 3, 4 and 18) • Failure to meet the required standards for publishing sufficient information about the methods used to compile the statistics and about the quality of the statistics, and for keeping users informed about material changes, or other related work, that could impact on the statistics (Requirements 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 21) • Failure to meet the required standards for the presentation and publication of the statistics (Requirements 11, 14, 15, 17, 19 and 20) • Failure to meet the required standard for the planning and resourcing of statistical work and promoting transparency in this work (Requirements 3, 7, 8 and 16)
Without new evidence of a systematic independent published audit of the integrity of police recorded crime data, and the results of that audit suggesting that the data are produced in ways that are reliable and comparable, the Authority cannot, at present, confer the designation of Recorded Crime in Scotland as National Statistics.
The Scottish Government should: • working with HMICS or other appropriate bodies, combine existing and new work into a coherent framework of assurance. Most of this material exists, or will be available once HMICS publish their next report examining the integrity of crime recording in Scotland; but it has not been incorporated into a coherent framework • publish demonstrable evidence that the outputs from the forthcoming independent HMICS audit have been integrated into the processes and practices for the compilation, analysis and publication of these statistics and of the supporting documentation • implement all the Requirements covering the wide range of Principles of the Code of Practice listed in section 1.5
The Scottish Government informed the Authority on 15 July 2014 that it is investigating whether the HMICS audit can be conducted and published before October 2014. The Authority welcomes efforts by the Scottish Government to improve the trustworthiness and value of these statistics in the public interest. The Authority further anticipates that the Scottish Government will address the Requirements in this report swiftly and that the results of the forthcoming HMICS audit will be appropriately reflected in the Scottish Government’s consideration of the reliability of the police recorded crime data. The Authority will welcome the further submission of fuller evidence from the Scottish Government which demonstrates that it has addressed all the Requirements set out in this Assessment report, and remains receptive to consider this matter again with the Scottish Government when such evidence is presented.