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Paper 25th May 2004 - LGRAS(04)7

LGRAS (04) 7 - THE SUBMISSION OF THE "STATS 19" DATA

1. Introduction

1.1 This paper covers various points to do with the submission of the "STATS 19" returns for Scotland. Members of the Group are invited to comment on these matters at the meeting, and to contact the Scottish Executive Transport Statistics branch regarding any subsequent developments or difficulties.

1.2 To facilitate communication in future, Members of the Group (especially those who are "STATS 19" data suppliers) are invited to provide Transport Statistics with their email addresses by emailing transtat@scotland.gsi.gov.uk (if they have not already done so).

2. Submission of "STATS 19" returns

2.1 At the meeting on 24 April 1998, Members of the Group representing data suppliers agreed that every return (apart from the "December" return) should be made within 6 weeks of the end of the month to which the return relates. For example, the "January" return should be made by around 15th March, unless there were major unforeseen problems (such as those that arise from the conversion of computer systems). Because of the backlog which builds up over Christmas / New Year, it was agreed that the "December" return was an exception, and should be sent to the Scottish Executive by the end of February.

2.2 Members of the Group will recall that DfT now publishes quarterly estimates of the total numbers of road accidents and casualties for Great Britain as a whole. The final table in each edition of DfT's "quarterly estimates" publication shows how up-to-date (or otherwise) the figures for each of the 50 Police Force areas in Great Britain were at the time that DfT started to produce those estimates. The table below shows that Scottish data suppliers accounted for 6 of the 45 cases of "not up-to-date" data for Great Britain - or 13%. This is better than the 16% that one might expect, given that 8 out of 50 Police Forces are Scottish. So, in general, Scottish data suppliers have performed better than their GB colleagues in returning their data promptly. We thank Scottish data suppliers for this good performance and ask that they try to maintain, and improve upon, this good record.

GB data suppliers

of which: Scottish

Number of months late

Number of months late

1

2

3

4+

Total

1

2

3

4+

Total

Q1&2 2002

6

2

3

1

12

1

0

1

0

2

Q3 2002

3

5

3

1

12

1

0

0

0

1

Q4 2002

4

1

0

0

5

0

0

0

0

0

Q1 2003

2

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

Q1 2003

1

3

2

0

6

1

1

0

0

2

Q3 2003

3

2

3

0

8

1

0

0

0

1

Total

19

13

11

2

45

4

1

1

0

6



2.3 Members of the Group representing data suppliers are asked to ensure that henceforth they make their returns within the agreed timescale (see paragraph 2.1).

3. Points from data quality checks

3.1 The Scottish Executive's checking of the STATS 19 data received from data suppliers has, for some returns, highlighted:

  • entries which look suspicious, although they are valid codes; or
  • entries where the data is missing.

These are detailed below.

3.2 Speed Limits (STATS 19 variable reference 1.15)

The speed limit of the road is used in calculating the built-up (up to 40 mph) / non built-up (over 40 mph) split for injury road accidents. Some returns are showing accidents on motorways with speed limits of 40 mph or less. However, after checking with SE Road Network Maintenance and Management colleagues, we understand there to be no such permanent speed limits. It is therefore likely that officers are mistakenly reporting temporary speed limits for these stretches of roads. STATS 20 Note C states that the normal speed limit should be entered, not the temporary one. A validity check is to be added to the errors report when the Quality Review changes are made to the Executive's computer system.

3.3 10 Digit OS Grid Reference Number/Location of Accident (STATS 19 variable reference 1.11)

The accuracy of returns for this variable is improving. However, there are still problems with accuracy around council boundaries and areas beside the coast. Data suppliers are encouraged to use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the processing of their data, where they have not done so already. The Executive does use a GIS to check that grid references are consistent with the Local Authority codes, but this does not identify cases where the co-ordinates given are wrong but within the boundaries of the relevant local authority. The use of a GIS locally should improve the whole process and cut down on records being returned for further investigation.

3.4 Driver/Casualty Age (ref. 2.22 and 3.8)

It is appreciated that it is not always possible to obtain the exact age for drivers and casualties. However, in cases that do not involve parked cars or hit and run accidents, we would be grateful if an estimate could be submitted. We have also noticed that in a few cases zero is being given as the driver's age - presumably it has been mistakenly used in place of "blank" which is the code for "not known". Again, age should be estimated, and if this is not possible then the "blank" should be used as the code for "not known".

3.5 Postcode Information (ref. 2.27 and 3.18)

Although most returns are averaging over 87% completion of these variables, it is important that we try to maintain and improve on this. The data may become increasingly important if we are asked to produce indicators based on injury road accident statistics for different types of areas of residence. We also produce tables in "Road Accidents Scotland" showing the distances between the locations of the accidents and the homes of the drivers and of the casualties. The data have also been used in some research projects. For such purposes, we need to receive from data suppliers full postcodes and in the correct format (as detailed in STATS 20).

Members of the Group representing data suppliers are asked to note the need to ensure the quality of their data in these areas.

4 Deleted or re-classified accident records, and the reconciliation of Scottish Executive and Police Force figures

4.1 Deleted or reclassified accident records

Data suppliers are reminded that they must inform the Scottish Executive whenever (a) they delete any "injury" accident sets from their systems or (b) they reclassify any accidents from "injury" to "damage only". Otherwise, those accidents will continue to be counted as "injury accidents" on the Executive's system, and therefore its figures will be too high.

Similarly, data suppliers must ensure that their systems send to the Executive the records for any accidents which they re-classify from "damage only" to "injury". Otherwise, those accidents will not be counted in the Executive's statistics of injury road accidents.

Members of the Group representing data suppliers are asked to note the importance of the above points, and to change their systems, if necessary, to ensure that the Scottish Executive is henceforth informed of all deleted or reclassified accidents.

4.2 Reconciliation of Scottish Executive and Police Force figures

The quarterly and end-year reconciliation process is aimed at improving the quality of statistics provided in our publications and in answer to enquiries, such as Parliamentary Questions. It also allows the Executive and Police Forces to identify any flaws in their systems whereby data are either not being transferred or not being processed properly.

Some Police Forces may not be doing enough to ensure that the reconciliation is carried out properly on both a quarterly basis and an annual basis.

Any flaws that are identified can be dealt with at a much earlier stage than the finalisation of the figures for the year. That is why the quarterly reconciliation prints are produced: if a Police Force's system is failing to send some of its accident records to the Executive, that should be discovered when the figures for the first quarter or two are reconciled. It is far better for all concerned if such problems can be identified and dealt with then, rather than as part of a "last minute rush" to finalise the figures for the year.

Members of the Group representing data suppliers are asked to ensure that reconciliation takes place properly on both a quarterly and an end-year basis.

In cases where the reconciliation indicates that there must be problems with their systems, Members of the Group representing data suppliers are asked to deal with them by providing any missing accident records swiftly, and by amending their systems as soon as possible thereafter to ensure that their subsequent "Stats 19" returns are not affected by the same kinds of errors.