Siobhan Carey, Chief Executive and Registrar General, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency writes to Mary Gregory, Deputy Director for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation.

Dear Mary,

Thank you for your letter of 28 August 2018 regarding the compliance check for the set-up phase of the NI Safe Community Survey.

Statisticians within the Department of Justice undertook a Review of the previous NI Crime Survey in 2017/18 and found the recent engagement with the OSR team extremely valuable in reviewing progress to date. The recent developments in the survey were clearly demonstrated in the strengths as outlined in your letter. We would like to thank your team for the time taken to understand the complexities of the Survey as well as the ongoing advice and support.

In light of the improvements identified in the compliance check, DoJ statisticians have drafted an action plan (see attached). I expect this plan to make a significant contribution to ensuring that the NI Safe Community Statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value. The Department of Justice, along with all other criminal justice organisations in Northern Ireland, is in the process of reviewing statistical management and structures. As part of this review NISRA will highlight the importance of appropriate resourcing of key statistical products.

Once again, thank you for this independent assessment of the survey’s development and methodology. I look forward to phase 2 of the compliance check at which stage progress on the action plan can be assessed.

Yours sincerely,
Siobhan Carey

Action Plan to address requirements set out in Office for Statistics Regulation’s assessment of the NI Safe Community Survey – Set-up Phase.

RequirementsAction plans/undertaken
1. In the future, we encourage Department of Justice (DoJ) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) to ensure available resources – both financial and people – are sufficient on an ongoing basis to demonstrate trustworthiness and to continue to improve the quality of the statistics and data and to realise more of their potential value. DoJ has prioritised investment in the NI Safe Community Survey to allow the survey size to be increased. Similarly, staffing resources for the survey will be kept under review and prioritised as required to ensure they are sufficient.
2. To demonstrate trustworthiness, we encourage the statistics team to be open about unmet demands and what work is being done to address them by publishing priorities and plans. DoJ will publish a high-level work plan outlining the developments that will be considered in order to further demonstrate trustworthiness of the Survey. The proposed developments have been addressed in similar surveys in other parts of the UK, or have been identified as a requirement through a range of consultation exercises. The document will be updated on a regular basis to take account of new and emerging requirements.
DoJ will publish outcome papers summarising the action taken from the workplan on an ongoing basis. We will ensure these reports are sufficiently detailed to provide a clear indication of any decisions taken and the rationale for them, including when no action has been taken.
3. Statistics on the proportion of adults who are victims of crime in Northern Ireland would better reflect experience of crime in the adult populations if estimates of fraud and computer misuse were included in the main estimates of crime. Until they do, the limitations of the statistics on victimisation need to be described very clearly alongside the statistics. The 2017-18 Review did not identify the requirement for fraud and computer misuse victimisation statistics. DoJ will set up a NI Safe Community Survey (NISCS) Steering Group and a Working Group to raise awareness of the current ONS data in order to review future DoJ needs.
DoJ will also engage with non-Departmental users via email and activities considered in point 4 below to consider non-government requirements for these data.
DoJ will clearly publish the limitations of the victimisation statistics in forthcoming reports until there is an agreed way forward on the suggested inclusion of fraud and computer misuse.
This project will be included in the workplan noted in point 2 above.
4. We encourage the team to find creative ways to build and maintain dialogue beyond government and its agencies among those who use, or who have the potential to use, the statistics and data from the survey to demonstrate their value.NISRA has organised and attended meetings with the two NI Universities. This initial contact will be followed-up to encourage and facilitate ongoing dialogue on the NISCS.
NISRA has also organised and attended a meeting with NI Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) and has agreed a way forward to raise awareness of the NISCS within the sector.
DoJ will review feedback mechanisms for all NISCS users and raise awareness of this facility during ongoing user engagement.
This project will be included in the workplan noted in point 2 above.
5. We encourage the team to collaborate with statisticians who run similar surveys in other parts of the UK to benefit from their support and experiences.DoJ currently meets with other UK “Crime Survey” statisticians on a biannual basis. In the interim, there is engagement as required. We will continue to maintain both the formal and informal meeting arrangements in order to learn from their experience
6. Meeting the clear demand to understand child victimisation will require innovative thinking. We look forward to seeing how this work develops DoJ will publish a Scoping paper to evaluate the feasibility of including 10 to 15 year olds in the NI Safe Community Survey and consider options available to measure child victimisation.
This project will be included in the workplan noted in point 2 above.