Systemic Review Outline: Police recorded crime statistics – quality review


Statistics on police recorded crime are published quarterly by Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on Home Office data collected from the 43 individual police forces in England and Wales and British Transport Police.

Police recorded crime statistics provide a measure of the number of crimes recorded by the police. They are an indicator for police workload and are a reliable measure of trends for some types of crimes.

Police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales are published as official statistics rather than National Statistics. In 2014 we removed their National Statistics designation due to concerns about the quality and consistency of police crime recording practices. Since then, police forces have made improvements to their crime recording processes and practices, but issues remain which continue to affect the quality of the statistics.

In recent years, we have reviewed and commented on specific elements of police recorded crime in England and Wales, including knife-enabled crime and hate crime. We have not reviewed the full police recorded crime series since we de-designated the statistics.

To understand the current quality and the scope of any future re-designation, we are carrying out an in-depth quality review of police recorded crime statistics.

What we are doing

Our quality review aims to:

  • Identify the nature and extent of quality issues in the data and statistics
  • Understand where responsibility for quality lies
  • Identify where improvements to quality have been made
  • Make recommendations about what needs to be done to improve quality

We are taking a process-based approach to investigating quality issues, focused on four areas where quality issues may arise:

  • The Counting Rules (the Home Office rules that set out the offences that forces must keep a record of for the purposes of statistical compilation) – how these rules are interpreted and applied by police forces.
  • Police operations/systems – how police forces deal with and respond to crime and the IT systems forces use to record crime.
  • Processing of data by police forces and the Home Office – how analysts in police forces and the Home Office quality assure data.
  • Processing of data by ONS – how ONS statisticians quality assure data.

We are gathering evidence through desk-based research and engagement with stakeholders, including police forces, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and statisticians in Office for National Statistics (ONS), and the Home Office.

We will also take a comparative look at the police recorded crime statistics for Scotland and Northern Ireland, to understand how and why data quality differs across UK countries.

What we want to happen as a result of our work

We will discuss with stakeholders the implications of our findings and recommendations, in particular, what these may mean for their area of responsibility.

Following completion of the quality review we plan to review the value that police recorded crime statistics provide.

These reviews will shape our 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.


If you would like to talk to us about police recorded crime statistics, please get in touch with us at

Systemic Review Outline: Mental Health Statistics


Many people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and most of us know at least one person who has been affected by a mental health condition at some point in their life. Every week there are reports in the media covering many aspects of mental health. Health policies attempting to address these many and varied issues have been introduced in all four countries across the UK in recent years. This review looks across the spectrum of mental health statistics and explores whether the statistical system is providing the information required to support individuals and policy makers.

What we have done so far

As each of the UK’s countries has separate policies on mental health, the review has taken a phased approach, looking at the statistics produced in each country in turn. We began with England as it is the largest in terms of the volume and complexity of mental health statistics that are published.

Our research into mental health statistics in England focussed on answering the following two key questions:

  • is the mental health statistical system publishing the information required to provide individuals, service providers and policy makers with a comprehensive picture on mental health?
  • do the existing statistics help answer the key questions about mental health in society today?

Our report on Mental Health Statistics in England, published in September 2020, summarises our findings and recommendations from this stage of the review.

What we plan to do next

Having published our findings for England, we now plan to move on to examine the picture in the other countries of the UK. We will confirm the timings for each specific country in due course.

What we want to happen as result of our work

We want to see producers in all parts of the UK improve the trustworthiness, quality and value of their statistics on mental health so that they achieve parity with statistics about physical health, NHS performance and outputs.


If you have any thoughts you would like to contribute to our review, please get in touch with us at the regulation team.


Systemic Review Outline: Adult Social Care

Updated on 05 May 2022 to fix page formatting




We closed the Northern Ireland strand of the review as summarised in a letter published in March 2019.

Background to the project

During 2018-19 the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) carried out a systemic review of adult social care statistics.

The review explored the adult social care statistics landscape across the UK to better understand the strengths and weaknesses, and share the learning across the four nations, recognising that policy variations have led to differences in how statistics are produced.

We wanted to further understand users’ needs for statistics about adult social care and discover and share best practice in the compilation, harmonisation, data linking potential, publication and statistical commentary of these statistics.


What we want to happen as a result of this systemic review

Adult social care statistics across the UK are coherent, harmonised, insightful and accessible and answer society’s important questions thus ensuring that decision-makers, policy officials and the public have the information they require.


Systemic Review Outline: Innovation in Children, Education, and Skills Statistics

The Office for Statistics Regulation views statistics as an essential public asset; innovation in
statistics is vital to secure the public value of statistics and can add real value for users.
Systemic reviews help us explore issues of public value and identify developments that the
statistics system may need to make.

What we plan to do and why
This review will focus on the Children, Education, and Skills (CES) area which includes statistics
on various topics – for example teachers and lecturers, learners, and those not in education,
employment or training – and covers all stages of education from early years to university and
Through this review, we will explore innovations and improvements being made to CES
statistics and in doing so champion and celebrate this important work. In addition we want to be
able to understand user needs when it comes to CES statistics and share this with producers to
help inform priorities in their development plans for the future.

How we will do this
The CES statistics area is wide and covers many different statistics outputs produced across
the UK. To get a broad understanding of the range of innovations being undertaken we will ask
producers to tell us about their work through a questionnaire. Based on the outcomes of this we
will review the scope of the review and possibly focus on activity in a particular area of the
We then plan to delve more deeply to understand the benefits realised from improvements and
any barriers faced by producers. At this point we will also speak with researchers, academics,
policy, and other user groups to hear what they think have been valuable innovations in CES
statistics and what they would like to see in the future.

Producer Questionnaire, September/October 2017
Undertake producer and user interviews, October – December 2017
Publish a short report containing the review findings, Spring 2018.

Contact for more information on the CES systemic review:
Marie McGhee
Louisa McCutcheon

Systemic Review Outline: the Public Value of Justice Statistics


The Office for Statistics Regulation is keen to ensure statistics that relate to similar themes are readily accessible to users, able to answer the questions society needs to answer, and that there is a coherent narrative across sources. We see statistics as a public asset and want to maximise their value to users. Systemic reviews help us explore issues of public value and identify improvements that the statistics system may need to make.

What we plan to do and why                                                                

We published our review of the Public value of crime and justice statistics in the UK in April 2016. This work focused on crime and criminal justice. It identified a need for statistics that join-up across the system, yet the range of government bodies and other organisations  involved in processing data on crimes and delivering justice services, particularly in England and Wales, means that this is not always the case. We now want to continue our investigation of the public value of justice statistics by extending it to cover civil and family justice, offender management and outcomes, and public attitudes to the justice systems in the UK. Our principal aims will be to uncover what questions are being asked of justice statistics and what questions the current statistics can’t answer, and to check for any fundamental issues affecting justice statistics.

How we will do it

Stage 1: system mapping – we will build-up a picture of justice statistics in the UK to help inform our understanding of what statistics exist within and across each legal jurisdiction (England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland).

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement – building on stage 1, we will consult with a range of statistics producers and users who have an interest in justice. We will gather views about whether the statistics that are currently available answer key questions and what gaps exist. We will also want to find out about emerging areas for which evidence might be needed in future and how well the systems in place can respond to such demands. If you want to speak to us about this work please get in touch:

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements – we will review the evidence gathered and present it to key stakeholders. The findings from this review will also be considered alongside the findings from our review of crime and criminal justice statistics to look for common themes. For areas where we feel improvements are needed, we will work collectively with relevant parties to identify solutions.

Stage 4: follow-up reviews – we are aware that some aspects of crime and justice are still to be covered in our reviews (for example, policing), while this review might identify other areas requiring further attention. We will publish our plans for any further reviews of justice statistics once this current project is complete.

What we want to happen as a result

Justice statistics in the UK provide accurate and appropriate information with sufficient insight for those who use them to make decisions, and the system operates effectively and can anticipate the needs of the future.

Related Links

Public value of justice statistics


Systemic Review Outline: data linkage

Review published on 11 September 2018:

Joining Up Data for Better Statistics



The Office for Statistics Regulation is keen to ensure that statistics are able to answer important questions for society. We see statistics as a public asset and want to maximise their value to users. Systemic reviews help us explore issues of public value and identify improvements that the statistics system may need to make.

What we plan to do and why

We now want to investigate the UK statistical system’s ability to provide greater insight to users via linked data (that is, data from more than one source which can be brought together securely to help answer questions). Stakeholders have already told us about various barriers to using linked data effectively, for example problems negotiating access and, if approved, long delays before data are actually available. The 2017 Digital Economy Act contains a number of provisions designed to significantly improve this situation. This review will look at whether we have the right structures in place to ensure that the benefits of the DEA are fully realised, this will include looking at how departments identify the most important and relevant questions to ask using linked data. We will also be exploring what this new landscape of linked data means for the Code of Practice for Statistics and how we might incorporate questions about using linked data into our assessments.

How we will do it

Stage 1: priority setting – we will review the evidence we have already collected from stakeholders and use that to prioritise a set of specific areas on which to focus our attention. Stakeholders will be consulted about our review aims at this stage. If you would like to help us shape this work, please get in touch.

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement and system mapping – we will consult with a range of statistics producers and users who have experience of working with linked data, or who have an interest in using linked data to answer policy questions, to explore what kinds of changes would be needed to help government and other users identify important questions and use linked data effectively. We will also map out the current data linkage landscape, and what it is likely to look like after the Digital Economy Act, to help us focus the work around the perspective of users. This mapping will cover data linkage systems in government departments across the UK, the health services, universities and the private sector (where they have an involvement in linkage projects that support public policy making).

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements – we will review the evidence gathered and present it to key stakeholders. For areas where we feel improvements are needed, we will work collectively with relevant parties to identify solutions.

Stage 4: follow-up reviews – we anticipate that we will continue our monitoring of data linkage issues beyond the timeframe for this initial phase of the work in order to assess the impact of the DEA – and where necessary to continue adapting our regulatory approach – in real time. This initial phase of the work might also identify new areas requiring attention.

What we want to happen as a result

Data linkage is widely used to answer society’s important questions in a timely manner.


Stage 1: priority setting – September 2017

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement and system mapping – September to November 2017

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements – December 2017 to March 2018

Stage 4: follow-up reviews  – Summer 2018 onwards


If you want to speak to us about this work please email the regulation team

Systemic Review Outline: International Migration Statistics

The importance of international migration estimates is unquestionable and the Office for Statistics Regulation has had a long interest in improving migration statistics (see the summary of our activities since 2009 below for further information). Our goal is to support the drive for a more comprehensive production of international migration statistics, with orderly release, that in turn will increase the public value of, and confidence in, the statistics.

Our systemic review of international migration statistics has helped to identify the information required to meet the current and emerging needs for decision making related to international migration. Having convened discussions on international migration statistics in autumn 2017 in relation to employment and business and local public service delivery, we are continuing to follow up on the actions that producers agreed to at these meetings, and as set out in our roundtables summary report. We published our latest review of progress in a letter to the Deputy National Statistician in September 2018. We will continue to monitor the GSS’s progress in using administrative data to transform government migration statistics and will consider whether these sources inform a better understanding of the quality of the existing Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.

These activities reflect our wider, systemic perspective of migration statistics. Their findings will continue to provide a focus for our future user and producer engagement, as we consider the success of the statistical producers’ cross-departmental efforts to deliver a coherent approach to international migration statistics.

Contact for more information on the migration systemic review:

Marie McGhee

Oliver Fox-Tatum

Summary of regulatory activities since 2009

We have had a long interest and concern about migration statistics. We published a Monitoring Report, Migration Statistics: the Way Ahead? in July 2009, reporting on progress being made by ONS against previous reviews and the recommendations of a report from the House of Commons Treasury Committee: Counting the population. The Monitoring Report also considered the adequacy of ONS’s plans for improving migration statistics and the effectiveness of co-operation across government in response to previous reviews.

We also published a Monitoring Review, The Robustness of the International Passenger Survey (IPS) in June 2013, which concluded that IPS statistics were broadly sufficient to meet a range of user needs for migration statistics at the UK level, but that there was not sufficient robustness to meet needs for migration data at lower geographic levels.

As part of a wider programme of work considering statistics and their use within government, a Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) report, Migration Statistics, published in July 2013, identified a range of limitations in the use of LTIM statistics, particularly in measuring progress towards meeting the Government’s migration targets and in analysing migration statistics at lower level geographies. The report identified the e-Borders programme (now known as Exit Checks) as an opportunity for further developing the statistics and suggested that other approaches to data collection should be considered by ONS and the Home Office. A letter from the Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority to the Chairman of PASC addressed how statistics to meet these needs might be created.

With intense public debate on the subject of European national migration in the run up to the referendum on membership of the EU, we again intervened, encouraging a cross-Departmental effort to provide the best possible data. We have also completed our assessment of the National Insurance numbers allocated adult overseas nationals statistics which have taken us into the terrain of the public value offered by these figures. In September 2018, we have carried out a compliance check on the Home Office’s Immigration statistics and made several recommendations for improvements to further to enhance their public value. Then in October 2018,  we completed a Compliance check looking at ONS transparency and communications around changes to the International Passenger Survey (IPS) data collection approach which is relevant to the overall migration statistics story.


Updated April 2019

Strategic Intervention Outline: Crime Statistics

Update – October 2016


Our vision for crime statistics is that they provide accurate and appropriate information and sufficient insight for those who use them to make decisions, and that statisticians in this field, anticipate the needs of the future.


We have a strong record of publicly challenging the status quo in crime statistics. Previous work has focused on the trust that the public can have in crime statistics and the quality of the underlying data that is used to compile them. Building on these foundations, determining the value that the wider suite of statistics on crime and policing add to public debate is critical. In June 2015, the Authority hosted a crime statistics seminar in London to discuss ‘what improvements can be made within the existing crime statistics framework, and how we might begin to capture crimes that currently fall outside the scope of this framework’. This project builds upon what we learnt from that seminar.

What we are doing and why

The UK is recognised as an international leader in crime statistics. Recently we, and others, have had concerns about the quality of statistics on police recorded crime in some parts of the UK. And people have told us about some gaps and shortcomings (such as a lack of data to help in understanding the scale of domestic violent crimes in the context of all violent crimes and limited availability of data at local levels). There are changes to what society defines as crime – for example with the rise of cyber crime – the context in which it happens, who deals with it and how. We think that crime statistics should develop to reflect these changes and will use our influence to support that development.

Our interest in crime statistics includes crime; people and organisations – as victims and offenders and those who operate within the criminal justice system – and the system itself and how individuals and crimes flow through it.

Strand 1: Continuing our work with statistical producers our work continues with producers to improve the value of specific crime statistics. The National Statistics status of Police Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland was re-instated in September 2016 following evidence from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary of sustained improvement in the quality of crime recording in Police Scotland. We look forward to hearing more about the progress that is being made on improving the quality of police crime recording in England and Wales; we expect to hear more about this by the end of 2016. We are pleased to see that ONS has introduced estimates of the extent of fraud and cybercrime derived from the Crime Survey for England and Wales in July 2016 and is changing the way it counts repeat victimisation as part of its estimates of crime, including domestic violence. We will complete our assessments of the trustworthiness, quality and value of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and the Northern Ireland Crime Survey in 2017.

Strand 2: Discovery Phase – in the period June to September 2016 we undertook work with a small number of stakeholders in the UK to add to our understanding of the questions others were asking about crime, policing and the criminal justice system and learn the extent to which the current suite of crime statistics meets user needs. These stakeholders included academics, journalists and others who are re-using crime statistics to increase understanding of crime and crime prevention or to interpret them for a wider audience. We also reviewed crime statistics internationally to identify potential areas for further development. We used this work to take a systemic view of crime statistics in the UK and identified a number of areas where the system of crime statistics could provide additional public value.

Strand 3:Follow-up interventions – Crime is changing and we consider it is important that statistics continue to reflect the real world; undoubtedly there are challenges to doing this. We identified a clear demand for statistics that join-up across the system, yet the separation of government and organisations in England and Wales often mean that this is not the case. And we think that more work could be done across the UK to make sure crime statistics achieve similar public value in all administrations. We will use our voice and our powers to convene to start a series of conversations on how best to achieve this, involving producers and the different user communities.

We will convene roundtable discussions early in 2017 to explore some of these issues. We will post more information on the roundtables on this page as our plans develop.

If you are interested in contributing to our work – either through the roundtables or in some other way – or would like to receive an alert as more information becomes available, please get in touch.

Contact for more information:

Pat MacLeod

020 7592 8657

Related Links

Strategic Intervention Outline: Crime Statistics – Summary of Approach