One crime each in Ancoats and Oldham: Why is GMP still publishing inaccurate data?

Three and a half years on from when it was first reported, Greater Manchester Police is still publishing inaccurate statistics on the official website.

Areas such as Ancoats and Oldham Town Centre are among some of the areas that show as little as one crime from September 2022 and August 2023.

The mystery gets more confusing with reference to Piccadilly Gardens, which has a total of zero reported crimes from October 2020 to December 2022, a statistic that most Mancunians would be baffled by.

Piccadilly Gardens’ crime statistics

GMP confirmed in a statement to Mancunian Matters that “we are still not able to share data with in a consistent and accurate way”.

In January 2020, Manchester Evening News initially reported that GMP was unable to inform the government of crime statistics because of its new computer system, IOPS.

MEN also reported that a whistleblower in the police had stated the new system, which was implemented in 2019, was so troubled that it was even “allowing criminals to walk free”.

GMP however stated that issues were being resolved, with improvements happening “week by week”.

But nearly four years on, Alexandra Park in South Manchester shows no crimes on the website from September 2022 to August 2023.

Alexandra Park’s crime statistics

The College of Policing’s Code of Ethics states that: “The police service operates on the basis of openness and transparency. This is essential to maintaining and enhancing a positive relationship between the policing profession and the community.”

Realistic crime statistics in the region, though, are not available to the community via the site.

This means that to be able to see reported crime statistics, one would have to download the full document from the Office for National Statistics.

This comes a month after GMP announced it had experienced a serious cyber attack, in which details about those employed by the police force could have been breached.

In a statement released on 14 September 2023, ACC Colin McFarlane said: “This is being treated extremely seriously, with a nationally-led criminal investigation into the attack.”

There is no indication that the absence of statistics and the cyber attack are linked.

Regarding the faulty statistics, GMP said: “Since the implementation of our integrated policing system in July 2019, we have been exploring the data made available to us in order to test and sense-check the recorded information from source systems such as ControlWorks and PoliceWorks.

“The purpose of this work is to understand what is working and what is not working, so that we can provide necessary feedback to the organisation and system suppliers.

“This continues to be a huge and complex undertaking across a diverse collection of data subject areas and often requires time-consuming manual cross-checks between the Cognos Business Intelligence solution and the source systems.

“This detailed work has identified that data quality continues to be an issue, and given statutory obligations and the mode of presentation for, it is imperative that GMP endeavours to ensure data accuracy.

“ is different to other annual data requirements (ADRs) as the data is presented publicly at record level rather than being aggregated for presentation, which generates specific challenges.

“The core presentation on is the geographical mapping that represents proximal locations of each event location. Due to the combined effect of the way PoliceWorks processes location data, and the way utilises this data, we are still not able to share data with in a consistent and accurate way.

“We are still striving to minimise the impact of this through a number of initiatives and are currently working on developing potential solutions.

“In the long-term we are moving away from PoliceWorks to a new system and although we have not decided on a final solution, we know the solutions being considered do not have the same issues as PoliceWorks and are in use in other Forces who are servicing

“In the medium term we have established a cross discipline team of experts in data, location, crime recording and information services, to see if there is any way we can take some of the data that cannot process, and correct it centrally to allow us to start submitting data.

“In the short-term to reassure concerned members of public, politicians and some private sector suppliers who rely on, we are offering a bespoke provision of data to them and a number of users have found this not only addresses their specific requirements of, but actually goes beyond it.

“Finally, we are expanding our public facing website with more police data so that people can look for themselves at how we are performing.”

Until the connection is fixed, though, we still have a system that tells us Failsworth West had no crimes reported between September 2022 and July 2023.

Feature image by DPP Law (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

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