5. UK Statistics Authority assessment
The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) is an independent body operating at arm's length from government, as a non-ministerial department. As such, the UKSA provides independent scrutiny of recorded crime and Scottish Crime and Justice Survey statistics through monitoring and assessment by its regulatory arm, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).
The UKSA published an assessment report on Recorded Crime in Scotland in July 2014. The report stated that the UKSA "cannot at present confer National Statistics status on these statistics".
As a result of this, the 2013-14 and 2014-15 statistical bulletins on Recorded Crime in Scotland were both published as Official Statistics. The UKSA assessment report pointed to improvements that could be made to ensure these statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value as set out in the Code of Practice - with the aim of eventually re-designating these statistics as National Statistics. Since the July 2014 report a range of actions were taken forward by the Scottish Government and others to meet these requirements.
Following this work, the UKSA re-visited the designation of these statistics in September 2016 and confirmed the re-designation of the statistics that are presented in Recorded Crime in Scotland as National Statistics. In their letter to the Chief Statistician of the Scottish Government, the UKSA acknowledged "a range of improvements to the presentation of Recorded Crime in Scotland and supporting documentation, including the development of commentary and analysis that provides context to the statistics, helping to enhance users' understanding of the statistics". A separate letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government from the UKSA detailed that "this leading approach is very welcomed given the high profile nature of statistics on police recorded crime".
The letter further welcomed "the proactive approach taken by the statistics team to investigate and better understand the recording and quality assurance of police recorded crime (and the) Scottish Government's commitment to demonstrate strong reassurance of police recorded crime statistics".
In 2019, OSR confirmed that the Recorded Crime in Scotland statistics should continue to be designated as National Statistics, following a compliance check. They highlighted a range of positive examples around statistics production relating to user engagement, presentation of the statistics, and supporting quality information.
They also identified several areas where they see potential for improvement of the value of the statistics, including;
- improving the clarity and length of the publication
- updating the user guide
- considering the next steps for the 'Clear up rates' section, including publishing an action plan outlining the progress and plans for improvement of the 'Clear up rates' section of the publication.
- seeking opportunities to present more insight on the topic of recorded crime, engaging users in this and by bringing police workforce statistics into the main bulletin.
- improving guidance about the comparability of the statistics with related statistics across the UK
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resultant increase in demand for associated analysis (for example the introduction of new monthly official statistics on crimes and offences recorded by the police), work towards these recommendations has been paused. However this user guide has been updated and published alongside the 2020/21 annual bulletin and we will be exploring ways of improving the clarity and length of the publication in an associated consultation which will launch in October 2021. The feedback from this consultation will be used to shape recorded crime statistics publications for the years ahead.
Statistics on recorded crime clear up rates remain Official Statistics due to the limited external assurance of these data. As highlighted above, OSR made a recommendation that the Scottish Government should consider next steps required to meet the requirements for National Statistics designation. The designation of clear up rates will be revisited by the OSR once we have undertaken further work.
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