Annex 2: Data quality and validation
Governance of data quality
The Police Service of Scotland (referred to throughout this report as Police Scotland) is responsible for operational policing in Scotland and is held to account by the Scottish Police Authority. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 changed the policing landscape in Scotland, replacing the previous eight police forces, the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency from 1 April 2013.
The recording of crime by the police and the subsequent publication of information through this statistical bulletin is undertaken by those who are professionally independent of wider decision-making and performance processes within their organisations. Within Police Scotland, the Crime Registrars ensure that crimes in Scotland are recorded ethically. They sit within the corporate services business area so that they are removed from direct operational activity and investigation. In turn, the production of the National Statistics on recorded crime is managed in an impartial and objective way, in the public interest, by Scottish Government statisticians.
A Scottish Crime Recording Board supports the production of accurate and objective statistics on crime in Scotland. It takes into account the needs of both users and providers in the production of crime statistics and ensures that this process is undertaken in a manner consistent with the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Board is chaired by the Justice Analytical Services division of the Scottish Government and a wide range of organisations are represented including Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
In general, this statistical bulletin covers the ten year period from 2013-14 to 2022-23, the entirety of which is subject to the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) introduced in 2004-05. The SCRS has helped maintain a consistent approach to recording crime and is maintained and developed by the Scottish Crime Recording Board. The SCRS manual can be accessed from the Board's webpage.
The User Guide documents the steps undertaken to quality assure data that is captured and published as management information by Police Scotland, and analysed and produced as National Statistics by the Scottish Government. This includes a summary of the quality checks made at each stage of the data journey, from capture to publication.
Data validation: HMICS Crime Audit 2020
In 2020, His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) conducted an audit which assessed the extent to which police recording practices complied with the Scottish Crime Recording Standard and Counting Rules.
This audit found no systemic data quality issues around the recording of crimes and offences, with the resulting report stating that 'Police Scotland's compliance with the Scottish Crime Recording Standard and Counting Rules is generally good at over 90%'. 91.4% of incidents were closed correctly and 90.8% of crime was counted and classified correctly.
The 2020 audit also examined 3,150 incidents relating to domestic abuse, 1,001 of which resulted in a crime record. HMICS found that the compliance was good overall, as:
- 94.6% of domestic abuse incidents were closed correctly, which is a higher compliance rate than the other categories examined.
- 92.6% of domestic abuse crime records were counted and classified correctly.
- 95.2% of domestic abuse crimes were recorded within 72 hours of the incident being reported to the police, with ten of the thirteen divisions achieving over 95% compliance.
A more detailed discussion of the results of the audit and its relation to recorded crime is also provided in the User Guide.
The full findings and analysis from this audit can be found in the HMICS Crime Audit 2020 publication.
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