Working with elected representatives at all levels can help make sure services are effective and meet all our needs…
Working with parliamentarians
getstats is beginning to work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on statistics and the House of Commons Library to support politicians in understanding and using statistics.
Two initial seminars for parliamentarians and their staff launched the getstats campaign in parliament project in Autumn 2011.
Promoted in association with SAS UK, these events demonstrated the power of numbers. Speakers were: Professor David Spiegelhalter, University of Cambridge whose talk ‘Communicating Risk and Uncertainty’ took place in October and Tim Harford, Presenter of Radio 4′s ‘More or Less’ programme whose talk ’Numbers are weapons: a self-defence guide’ took place in November.
In 2012, in partnership with SAS UK and Ireland, we have again runn seminars for MPs and their staff, this time concerning the role of statistics and statistical thinking in sport, how statistics informs new health policy, we looked at the value of statistics and data know-how to the new police and crime commisioners and unwrapped the role of evidence in the development of education policy.
2012 also saw the first RSS-getstats training workshop for staff ‘Making the Most of Data’. Presenters were author and journalist, Michael Blastland; Mike Hardie, Office for National Statistics, Dr Jo Wathan, UK Data Service and Andrew Garratt, Royal Statistical Society.
NB The RSS also provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics. Lord David Lipsey chairs this group.
Working with police and crime commissioners
Interest has been growing in the place of evidence in policing, under the auspices of Chief Constable Peter Neyroud, the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Society of Evidence Based Policing.
A big question is how far the police and crime commissioners being elected in November will be drivers of …and driven by evidence. The PCC is a new official with powers over the budgets and policy of the police though the PCCs themselves are not meant to infringe the operational autonomy of chief constables. Alongside the commissioners will sit police and crime panels, made up of councillors.
At a recent seminar in our parliamentary series, Professor Allan Brimicombe of the University of East London described how some police forces were using data to inform operational decisions, but also how the data picture varied. Much depends on how offences are categorised. A common offence – domestic violence – might be put into different statistical boxes, and possibly even concealed, making it hard to target. Here are the Allan Brimicombe slides. At the same event, Rory Geoghegan, fellow in criminal justice and policing at the thinktank Policy Exchange urged the PCC being elected in November to do data. Figuring Police Crime Commissioners PPT final illustrated some of the myths about policing that needed to be bused.
Much discussion has, inevitably, been around crime and whether PCCs will affect local crime volumes. As the Home Secretary Theresa May says there is no ‘simple relationship’ between the police and crime. We believe the elections could be an opportunity for the public to learn from the data – about police for performance, police numbers and costs and the complicated connections between the figures for crime and anti-social behaviour.
We have been drafting a guide for candidates on the use of data and statistics in the campaign, which we hope to make available later in the spring. Comments on our paper are welcome. As the new architecture around policing takes shape, we hope more and more officers (and councillors and PCCs) will show greater awareness of statistics. A start might be made with the new College of Policing, which the Home Office hopes will raise professional standards. The aim is to ‘identify evidence of what works in policing and share best practice’ and that will entail getting inside the evidence – which has to mean more and better numbers.
Developing expert advice
The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) actively develops expert advice and policy on major public issues, such as swine flu, ecosystem change and criminal justice.
Informing policy making
By responding to consultations and public inquiries the RSS promotes cost-effective, evidence-informed policy making.