Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics: Police officer uplift statistics

20 July 2022
Last updated:
19 July 2022

Executive summary

Why we carried out this assessment

ES.1 These statistics provide timely, high quality and insightful information on the UK Government’s target to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales by 31 March 2023. They are used to monitor progress towards meeting the target and the diversity of officers recruited through the Police Uplift Programme (PUP), at both the England and Wales and police force level.

ES.2 Home Office asked the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) to assess its police officer uplift statistics. In requesting this assessment, the uplift statistics team at Home Office is demonstrating its commitment to produce statistics that meet the standards required of National Statistics and the Code of Practice for Statistics.

ES.3 Our assessment found widespread good practice in the production of these statistics. We have identified three actions for Home Office to fulfil in order for the police officer uplift statistics to be designated as National Statistics. Once the statistics team demonstrates that these steps have been undertaken, OSR will recommend that the UK Statistics Authority designate the statistics as National Statistics. Home Office has made some of these improvements ahead of the next publication of the uplift statistics scheduled for 27 July 2022.

Key findings

ES.4 Home Office’s development of the uplift statistics represents best practice where government makes a manifesto commitment related to the workforce. By producing official statistics on a consistent basis and releasing them in an orderly, transparent way, Home Office is demonstrating trustworthiness, quality and value and supporting public confidence in the statistics and the uplift programme. Data requirements and information needs were considered from the outset of the uplift programme; from day one there was discussion about how to count the number of officers recruited and how to get information about the programme into the public domain.

ES.5 The uplift statistics team has a very close and positive working relationship with Home Office users and stakeholders. It has a deep understanding of the policy context and use of the statistics and is able to meet those users’ and stakeholders’ evolving needs.

ES.6 The statistical bulletin gives a good overview of the police uplift programme, clearly reporting progress towards the target to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers and the protected characteristics of officers. To enhance the insight of the bulletin, Home Office should expand the commentary and information about variation in recruitment among forces, funding arrangements and police officer allocation.

ES.7 Users we spoke to told us they would like to see information on a range of other topics, particularly retention, deployment and entry routes of new recruits, to get a more complete picture of the uplift programme. We recognise that this is a longer-term development which is not feasible within the current publication cycle. To enhance the value of the statistics, Home Office should look into publishing additional statistics on the retention and entry routes of new uplift recruits outside the normal regular publication process if necessary, possibly as ad hoc releases. It should also publish more complete and granular data on protected characteristics as soon as it is confident in the data quality.

ES.8 We are impressed by the robustness of the methodology and the clarity around the baseline: it is well-explained, and Home Office has been transparent with users about its development. The clear baseline ensures that progress towards the target is reported in a consistent way, which supports trustworthiness of the statistics.

ES.9 We commend Home Office, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), College of Policing and police forces on their collaborative, joined up approach to collecting data and producing statistics on the uplift programme. The setup ensures that the data are fit for purpose and users can have confidence in data quality.

ES.10 The new ‘National Standards for Workforce Data’, developed jointly by Home Office, NPCC and College of Policing, have enhanced the coherence of the statistics. They ensure that data on the protected characteristics of officers are collected in a consistent way across all forces. This standardisation will have long-term benefits for workforce data quality and policy by allowing for better-evidenced decision making.

ES.11 Home Office and NPCC are continuing efforts to increase the completeness of the protected characteristics data. The information about the limitations of these data should be expanded, for example, by explaining the completeness of data for all protected characteristics.

ES.12 The quality assurance process is rigorous and well-established. To demonstrate transparency and help users understand the quality of the data, Home Office should explain the quality assurance process in more detail, including the roles and responsibilities of the different organisations involved.

ES.13 Pre-release access is closely guarded and well-enforced by the statistics team. However, the pre-release access list is longer than we would expect it to be. To minimise the risks around the release of the statistics, Home Office should reduce as far as possible the number of individuals granted pre-release access and explain publicly who has access to the monthly management information to inform the public of the different uses of the data.

ES.14 We found several examples of Home Office policy or press statements that present the uplift statistics in an unclear or potentially misleading way. This is poor practice that undermines both the trustworthiness of the statistics and the efforts of the statistics team in releasing these statistics in an orderly way. Demonstrating trustworthiness is a fundamental pre-requisite to attaining and maintaining National Statistics status, and therefore it is essential that Home Office presents the statistics accurately and objectively in all Home Office outputs.

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