A report released by the Victorian Ombudsman last week has slammed Victoria Police crime reporting practices, claiming methods used for crime reporting are unsuited to modern policing.
In his Crime Statistics and Police Numbers Report, the Ombudsman suggests that “antiquated, time consuming administrative practices” are resulting in citizens’ experiences of crime not being reflected in the statistics.
Victoria Police are using “outdated information technologies that are unsuited to a twenty-first century approach to policing”, he says, jeopardizing the credibility of crime statistics, which are largely under reported.
The findings are concerning, with Victoria Police quoted in the report as saying that “there are good opportunities to leverage technology and improve recording practices”.
But according to the Ombudsman, Victoria Police “continues to miss opportunities to modernize its practices in these areas”.
Current attempts to upgrade technology are not adequate; still large numbers of handwritten forms must be completed by police and then faxed to civilian support staff for data entry with errors resulting.
“New IT initiatives currently being pursued by Victoria Police will not eliminate the fragmented, ad hoc administrative practices involved in recording crime data,” he says.
In his recommendations, the Ombudsman suggests the Victorian Government consider establishing an external body charged with developing and maintaining crime databases.
He also suggests an upgrade of technological services and a better awareness of present IT provisions to increase transparency and verify current and future records.