The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has started an in-depth quality review of police recorded crime statistics, focusing on the statistics for England and Wales produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Since OSR removed the National Statistics designation of the police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales in 2014 due to concerns about the quality and consistency of police recording practices, police forces have improved their crime recording. However, issues remain that continue to affect the quality of the statistics. OSR’s new review aims to understand what quality looks like now, identifying the nature and extent of quality improvements and issues.

For this timely review, OSR is looking at several areas of quality, including how the Home Office Counting Rules are interpreted and applied by police forces, the IT systems forces use to record crime, and how analysts in police forces, the Home Office and ONS quality assure the data.

To gather evidence, OSR is speaking to a range of stakeholders, including police forces, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and statisticians in ONS and the Home Office.

OSR is also taking a comparative look at the police recorded crime statistics for Scotland and Northern Ireland, to understand how and why data quality differs across the UK.

Ed Humpherson, DG Regulation said:

“Police recorded crime is a key data source on crime. Now is a good time to revisit the quality of the police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales, to explore how data quality has changed since our last major review in 2014. We hope our new in-depth review will help both the producers and users of these statistics, by shining a light on their current quality and what improvements need to be made to enable these statistics to better serve the public good.”

Andy Cooke, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, HMICFRS, said:

“In recent years, police forces have made substantial improvements to their crime recording processes, but some quality issues remain. I therefore welcome the review of police recorded crime statistics launched recently by the OSR. This work, as well as the ongoing work being done by HMICFRS to monitor and assess the accuracy of crime recording by individual police forces, should lead to improvements in crime recording, and ultimately to better outcomes for the public.”

Additional Information

  1. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. OSR provides independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for StatisticsThe Code of Practice for Statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. Compliance with the Code gives confidence that published government statistics are National or Official Statistics and have public value, are high quality, and are produced by people and organisations that are trustworthy.
  1. Police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales are published quarterly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on Home Office data collected from the 43 individual police forces in England and Wales and the British Transport Police.
  2. In recent years, OSR has reviewed and commented on specific elements of police recorded crime in England and Wales, including knife-enabled crime and hate crime. However, OSR has not reviewed the full police recorded crime series since it removed the National Statistics designation in 2014.
  3. Following completion of the quality review, OSR will carry out a complementary review of the value of police recorded crime statistics that looks at how the statistics are understood and used.
  4. These reviews will shape OSR’s future regulatory work on police recorded crime statistics which, dependent on the findings of the reviews, may include a re-assessment of the police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales.

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