When did the CSO first become aware of concerns with the quality of recorded crime data?
The CSO first suspended the publication of Recorded Crime statistics in 2014 following the Garda Inspectorate report identifying quality issues in relation to the recording of data on the PULSE system. The PULSE system is the only source of recorded crime data available to the CSO to produce these statistics.
In 2015, the CSO published a Review of the Quality of Crime Statistics. The CSO then recommenced publishing recorded crime statistics but included caveats in relation to the quality of the underlying data.
Since 2015, further quality issues have emerged with regard to PULSE data and CSO took the decision in early 2017 to postpone further publication.
What are the most recent quality issues and why did the CSO suspend publication of recorded crime statistics in 2017?
The Quarter 1, 2017 Recorded Crime statistics release, originally due for publication in June 2017, was postponed by the CSO pending the completion of an internal review of 41 homicide incidents by An Garda Síochána (AGS) and the investigation of concerns raised separately by the CSO in respect of PULSE homicide records.
In September 2017, the CSO took the decision to further defer the publication of Recorded Crime statistics. This arose because work on certain issues raised by the CSO in May 2017 had not been fully completed and AGS had also decided to extend the period of their review of homicide incidents.
Why is the CSO now deciding to resume publication of Recorded Crime statistics?
PULSE data is now subject to a number of separate ongoing quality reviews and does not currently meet the CSO’s standards for completeness and accuracy. The timeline for the completion of these reviews has been extended on a number of occasions and at present there is no firm completion date.
The CSO is mandated to produce statistical outputs relating to economic, social and general activities, and conditions in the State. Crime statistics form a key part of such information.
Recorded Crime statistics have not been published by the CSO for a 12 month period. The long-term absence of timely, impartial and transparently produced Recorded Crime statistics creates a vacuum for policy decision makers and for all interested citizens Therefore, at this time the CSO feels the over-riding public interest is best served by the resumption of publication of recorded crime statistics, categorised as Under Reservation to highlight the quality issues.
The CSO produces its statistics on the basis of the most objective, transparent and independent data available. Reflecting our concerns as to the completeness and accuracy of the underlying PULSE data, the CSO has taken the decision to resume publication of crime statistics using a new category entitled statistics Under Reservation.
What does statistics Under Reservation mean?
The new classification statistics Under Reservation has been applied to reflect the fact that there are data quality issues in the underlying sources used to compile these statistics. This approach of differentiating statistics based on quality concerns associated with the underlying data is consistent with other jurisdictions such as England and Wales.
In the case of Recorded Crime statistics, the new classification will actively alert users to the underlying quality deficiencies and inform them that further revisions can be expected as these deficiencies are resolved.
Are these statistics likely to be revised?
Yes, there is an ongoing review by AGS into the recording of homicide incidents. This review covers the period 2003 – 2017. It is likely that this review will result in changes to the classification of some incidents.
Data quality issues raised by the CSO in relation to the recording of homicide incidents may also result in further revisions of homicide data. Some of the data quality issues raised could apply to other crime groups.
How long will the statistics Under Reservation category apply to Recorded Crime statistics?
The statistics Under Reservation categorisation will remain in place until such time as the CSO is satisfied that the level of accuracy and completeness of the underlying data is of sufficient quality.
Who ultimately decides when the under reservation category is lifted?
The decision as to when the Reservation can be lifted will be taken by the Director General of the CSO in accordance with Section 13 of the Statistics Act 1993. The Director General has sole responsibility and complete independence for all statistical decisions under the Act.
What are the criteria for lifting this categorisation?
The CSO is engaging with AGS to set out the criteria for the lifting of the reservation. These criteria are not confined to homicide data but will address quality concerns across a broader range of issues. They will address issues such as data governance, training, crime data recording procedures and the auditing and monitoring of data quality.
Does the decision to proceed with crime Under Reservation represent a deterioration of the relationship between AGS and the CSO?
No. The decision to publish recorded crime statistics Under Reservation is an indication of the ongoing issues with the quality of underlying PULSE data.
Robust, trustworthy crime statistics are a vital tool for decision makers and of significant public interest and the CSO remains committed to advising and assisting AGS in improving the quality of its data.
How confident can the public be in crime statistics?
The decision to publish using the statistics Under Reservation category reflects concerns the CSO has around the completeness and accuracy of PULSE data. Data published under this category will provide users with the best information available while clearly identifying the quality issues and flagging where revisions are likely.