As we are the only aggregators of the crime data, our monthly updates take a little bit longer here at UKCrimeStats and we like to check things through and ask questions which is one of our analytical USPs. We now have about 18.5 million crimes and ASB incidents, spread out over a bit more than a million locations, over 39 months. It also means we notice errors and like to raise them with the Home Office – an outstanding issue for example is how Thames Valley Police have been locating some crimes inside Warwickshire which has had a major distortionary impact on what would be a very quite part of the world. To be fair, big datasets always have errors but after 3 years, we need to be seeing far fewer.
Regarding the Thames Valley/Warwickshire issue, we have noticed that this is a bigger problem, involving many other Police Forces, than we realised and are still awaiting a response from the Home Office – here is a spreadsheet of locations shared between Police Forces – there are 8,000 shared locations. The bit that gets me is how Devon and Cornwall (& 4 other Police Forces) have managed to locate some events in Belleville Road in Clapham. You would have to expect some shared locations with the anonymisation of crime locations – all events are located to the nearest snap-point which might be between 1 metre and 4 acres away (if all snap-points were all evenly distributed). The problem comes when that snap-point falls outside of the Police Force area and outside of the boundary of the Police neighbourhood team. My view is that crimes should never be located outside either that of the covering Police Force or neighbourhood team. If it is simply too sensitive to do that, then make it a crime with no-location, ascribed to the relevant PF and neighbourhood.
In the meantime, we have noticed Gwent Police’s figures appear to have changed for February 2014 – we are in the throes of updating this in the next day or so because the earlier figures look wrong. It would be a huge advance if all Forces kept a changelog with the history of each monthly file with an explanation of why it had to be changed and what the impact is on the underlying figures. This would be in keeping with the Crime Data Guidance which is still not followed. So British Transport Police saying every single month without fail “Crime data refresh, all months” without any explanation, should really be totally unacceptable.