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Scotland's police inspector slams data entry record

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The accuracy of information on the Police National Computer (PNC) is being affected by problems with IT and data entry at Scottish police forces, according to a new report.

PNC Inspections: National overview report, published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland, calls for the country's police forces to improve the accuracy and efficiency of data input to the PNC.

The document, published on 4 August 2010, says that most Scottish forces do not have a clear strategic direction in regard to the PNC. Typically, the inspectors found that junior members of staff were working hard to comply with the PNC Code of Practice, but using outdated and often costly working processes.

HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland Bill Skelly said: "Maintaining accurate criminal records is critical not only to the criminal justice organisations that use this information, but for reasons of public safety.

"Our report shows that since our original inspection in 2005, progress to implement the recommendations remains slow, with the majority of forces still lacking a clear strategic direction on PNC."

The report also found that systems to share information between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Courts Service, and the police are not able to prevent omissions and errors.

"It is also important to recognise that the integrity of data relies on input from the three main criminal justice agencies," said Skelly. "I appreciate the significant progress already made by Scotland's criminal justice partners to integrate their systems, but we found that in practice the flow of information between the three needs to be more robust."

"Moreover, as all computer record errors currently default to the police every force in Scotland is responsible for correcting not only its own errors but those of all criminal justice partners. The result is in an inefficient use of police time and resource simply to support the system itself.

Skelly urged all Scottish police forces and the Scottish Police Services Authority to work with other criminal justice organisations to address the issues raised in the report.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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