Police data still falls short

A new progress report that comes in the wake of the Bichard Inquiry has criticised more than half of the UK’s police forces for not having improved their data management systems.

Jun 15, 2006
By David Howell

A new progress report that comes in the wake of the Bichard Inquiry has criticised more than half of the UK’s police forces for not having improved their data management systems.

The report from the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) looked at all of the UK’s 51 forces and concluded: “HMIC has commenced direct communications with 13 forces which are causing varying degrees of concern in relation to their actual performance or their general direction of travel.”

The Bichard Inquiry was prompted by the failures that were identified after the conclusion of the murder investigation into the deaths of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. The report recommended measures to improve inter-force communication and data exchange.

The new progress report looked at how efficient forces are being at entering new data onto their systems, and found that 39 per cent of forces were not meeting statutory guidelines. This comes after the problems with the Criminal Records Bureau were highlighted which itself takes information from the PNC. The quality of the information entered into the PNC is still under question.

David Stevens told an audience at the ACPO conference: “At the moment there are no penalties for feeding garbage into a computer, but wrong information can have serious consequences.” Mr Stevens did however state that the guidance and standards that are now in place would bring about a gradual improvement in the quality of the data entered onto the system.

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