Background

Policing is changing. Technology presents new challenges as well as opportunities for smarter working. The mix of crimes that police deal with now has changed, so that despite previous reductions in numbers of crimes recorded the time spent on dealing with crime has not. There are many non-crime related demands on police time and the police deal increasingly with complex problems that can call for multi-agency responses.

What we plan to do and why

Public debate around what the police do, or what they should do, and the resources they need to do these things do not necessarily reflect actual demands on the police. We think there is a need for public debate to be better informed. Our initial investigations suggest that current statistics and data on policing don’t tell the narrative of how policing has changed or reflect to the public what the police do and the resources they use to do it.

In this review, we will consider how well statistics and data support the public’s understanding of policing and serve the public debate about the police and policing in the UK, and what contribution statistics and data can make to improving public debate. We have four lines of investigation:

  • Policing structures and activities and demands placed on the police
  • Recent public debate about the police and policing
  • The statistics that describe aspects of the police and policing
  • Obstacles that prevent statistics better informing public debate

How we will do it

The review has four separate strands:

Stage 1: Intelligence gathering – We will look at policing statistics in the UK to identify what statistics exist in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and where there are gaps. Separately, we will review published reports and attend events to develop our understanding of what the police are asked to do and how they do it.

Stage 2: Media analysis – We will analyse recent media coverage to identify the public debate around policing and to understand the extent to which current statistics are used to inform that debate.

Stage 3: Stakeholder Engagement –We will interview police leaders and others with insight into policing and demands placed on the police. Along with talking to statistics producers and decision makers in government, we will also listen to this group’s views about police data and statistics. The third group we want to speak to are journalists and other intermediaries in the public debate.

Stage 4: Share findings and highlight areas for improvement – We will publish updates during the review on the emerging findings from our four lines of investigation and an overview of our findings at the end.  If there are areas where the statistics can be improved or where there are gaps in statistics serving the public debate we will identify what is needed to bring about the necessary change and publish these as next steps.

What we want to happen as a result

This review is our first look at how statistics and data in the UK support the public’s understanding of policing. We will use it to determine the changes we think are needed to statistics and data, and how best to influence or bring about that change. Our aim from the review and any follow-up work is to increase the value of statistics on policing to improve public debate on this topic. Ultimately, we want to see statistics and data that better support the public’s need for information about policing, increase transparency and improve accountability of elected representatives.

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