Crime Data – the case for independent audit by lots of 3rd parties

An excellent piece here – Fudge factor: Cooking the books on crime stats – on how and why in the USA, many have come to believe that the biggest problem  facing law enforcement today is altered crime stats.

Many of us in the UK have come to admire the success of the decentralised and democratic approach to tackling crime in the USA, the successful initiatives of Bill Bratton whiles at the NYPD which were repeated and amplified by other Police Forces throughout America and their early adoption of public-facing crime maps.  I have been following crime data and crime map on google alerts and I’d say 90% of them are to do with a another small town in America that has posted up a public crime map in cooperation with a sole local IT company which has an effective monopoly. In that kind of setup, how do you know what you’re looking at is correct?

It’s a difficult issue and I can’t see it being solved without regular 3rd party audit by developers. To boost public confidence in crime statistics over this side of the pond, it was decided that from the 1st April this year, the data would be published by the Office for National Statistics instead of by the Home Office. Changing public sector organisations will though only get you so far. Public confidence will rise much faster when you have a large number of developers using the data, running it through databases and going public with the errors. We have been arguing with the Home Office that they should embrace their own crime data guidance and go public with the errors.

We’re hoping for some progress here soon. In the meantime, we’ve been tracking the errors on our forum page and have a number of new ones to upload shortly. And as always, feel free to get in touch with us if you see anything amiss.

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