12. Communication with Data Supply Partners
This chapter focusses on the relationship between Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Scottish Government (in terms of statistics production).
12.1 Cooperative relationships
This section considers how the Scottish Government establishes and maintains cooperative relationships with data suppliers, such as through a written agreement, identifying roles and responsibilities, understanding the process for data supply, scheduling and content specification, change management processes, and cooperative arrangements such as secondments.
12.1.1 Current Activity
The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and its associated secondary legislation and guidance set out the legislative framework and replaced previous legislation. Chapter 12 of the Act provides information related to co-operation and the exchange of information across the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the SPA.
The Corporate Governance Framework was drawn up by the Scottish Government in consultation with the Scottish Police Authority (the Authority). It sets out the broad framework within which the Authority will operate and defines key roles and responsibilities which underpin the relationship between the Authority and the Scottish Government.
12.1.2 Roles and responsibilities
The requirement to provide suitable statistical information to the Scottish Government is enshrined in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 mentioned above. Chapter 12 states that:
(1) The Authority must provide the Scottish Ministers with such reports, statistics or other information relating to the Authority or the Police Service as they may reasonably require.
(2) Such information may, in particular, relate to—
(a) the Authority or its functions,
(b) the Police Service or police functions,
(c) the state of crime.
(3) The chief constable must provide the Authority with such reports, statistics or other information relating to the Police Service, police functions or the state of crime as it may reasonably require."
This ensures that the supply of data for Recorded Crime in Scotland is set in law.
12.1.3 Continuous Improvement – Roles and Responsibilities
Working together, the Scottish Government, the SPA and Police Scotland are developing a Data Sharing Agreement to set out formal structures, responsibilities and working arrangements. Aspects of collaborative working, including roles and responsibilities, the timing and quality of data provision and change management processes will be included within this agreement. The agreement will also include information on the process to be followed, understood and agreed by all stakeholders, if, for example, Police Scotland wanted to make a change to a data set or data variable. Once the agreement is signed off it will be reviewed annually and updated with any changes.
The Scottish Government aim to publish Recorded Crime in Scotland in September each year. In compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics, the Scottish Government publish a timetable of statistical releases for twelve months ahead. The Scottish Government year-ahead schedule of publications provides information on the type, title, date of publication and contact details.
The Scottish Government provides Police Scotland with the publication plan in particular stating when the Scottish Government will be sending the data template to Police Scotland, when they should return it by and the planned publication date.
The Scottish Government and Police Scotland agree when Police Scotland will provide the Recorded Crime in Scotland data.
12.1.5 Content specification
Police Scotland are responsible for the content of their data collection and the Scottish Government are responsible for the content of the Recorded Crime in Scotland publication. The content of the publication is retained as far as possible to ensure continuity of data, though when changes are required, they are subject to formal Scottish Government statistical practice. Changes to the data entry and collection do not always take account of the consequences on the data for Recorded Crime in Scotland publication, however, updates to IT systems go through a request for change process in which downward data streams are considered for any knock on effects.
In terms of the content of the Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin, any changes in this publication are the subject of a formal consultation complying with Scottish Government and UKSA rules. For more information see the Consultations section.
12.2 Change management process
Changes related to data collections and transfer, including the specification of the data required by the Scottish Government for the Recorded Crime in Scotland publication are discussed in regular meetings and implemented as required.
Changes are currently reported to users through a ScotStat notice and also in the statistical reports.
12.2.1 Crime code reviews
When a crime report is recorded it is allocated a crime type. This is converted into a crime code for Recorded Crime in Scotland purposes and these codes are subject to constant review, for example with legislative or definitional changes. There is a well-established process in relation to any changes relating to crime codes e.g. introduction of new crime codes following the introduction of new legislation, including correspondence with Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and discussions at meetings with the crime registrars. All changes to the crime codes must be approved by the Scottish Crime Recording Board. For more information see Classification of crimes and offences chapter.
12.2.2 Publication changes
If there are any proposals for changes to the publication, the Scottish Government Policy on Revisions and Corrections states that:
- "We will give as much notice as possible of changes to methodology, definitions or any other changes likely to lead to revisions along with an indication of their possible scale and nature.
- As far as possible we will consult users before making changes that affect statistics (for example, to coverage, definitions, or methods) or to publications.
- Revisions will be subject to the same arrangements for publication and pre-announcement as other releases. Notification of forthcoming revisions will be included on the Scottish Government forthcoming publications schedule. We will also notify key users by e-mail.
- We will provide a statement explaining the nature and extent of revisions at the same time as they are released.
- Ideally previous versions of publications and data tables containing unrevised figures will be replaced and archived. This may not always be feasible. As a minimum all unrevised figures will be clearly marked and contain a link to the revised figures.
- We will ensure that where time series are revised, or changes are made to methods or coverage, we produce consistent historical data, wherever possible, and user guidance. If it is not possible to produce consistent historical data then advice on potential effects will be given where possible."
The Scottish Government include information about the nature and extent of changes made to police crime records, and how to interpret these changes, in its corporate policy statement on its current practice on revisions and corrections.
Future changes to methods or classifications are announced in advance of the publication of Recorded Crime in Scotland through the release of emails to the ScotStat users email list (open to all expert and non-expert users who have expressed an interest in being kept informed about crime statistics). Such changes are also recorded in the Structure of crime and offence classifications chapter.
12.3 Regular communications
The Scottish Government engages primarily with expert users of the statistics through the Crime and Justice ScotStat committee which usually meets twice a year (however this has been paused during the coronavirus pandemic). The purpose of the meeting is to identify key user needs across a range of criminal justice statistics and implement a strategy to prioritise and meet these needs. Membership of this group includes statisticians from the Scottish Government, along with representatives from the SPA, Police Scotland, HMICS, COPFS, Scottish Legal Aid Board and some academics. The Scottish Government has published minutes and papers from these meetings on the Crime and Justice ScotStat committee section of the website.
The Scottish Government uses the ScotStat mailing list for contacting and consulting users who have registered an interest in Recorded Crime in Scotland. The consultations chapter contains more information about feedback from previous consultations and upcoming consultations.
Scottish Government statisticians also attend the aforementioned Scottish Crime Recording Board (SCRB). These meetings are an opportunity to share experiences and discuss emerging issues relating to the police recorded crime statistics and the recording of the underlying administrative data. Through the SCRB, Scottish Government statisticians have had access to Police Scotland crime systems to conduct analysis of crime reports. Further information on the SCRB is available in the SCRB chapter.
Recorded Crime Statisticians maintain contact with data providers through regular communications, including monthly meetings with data providers and visiting data providers within Police Scotland. Such meetings provide a forum for Recorded Crime Statisticians to consult with data providers and bring any changes to data collection requirements to their attention. It also provides a forum for Police Scotland to advise Recorded Crime Statisticians of any forthcoming changes to their administration systems that may affect the data collection.
There are regular secondments to HMICS from Police Scotland. The specialist nature of Justice Analytical Services, within the Scottish Government, makes inward secondments less feasible, but police policy division often employ police secondees. All of these connections help to ensure understanding across the different sectors of Recorded Crime in Scotland.
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