Lack of standard data systems hinders police FOI efforts

A lot of data held by police forces are also still in paper format

The UK's police forces are struggling to cope with the high levels of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests due to a lack of standard data management systems, the police's FOI expert has revealed.

Chief inspector Mark Wise, from the Association of Chief Police Officer's (ACPO) Freedom of Information Central Referral Unit, said that the UK's 43 police forces received 37,800 FOI requests last year, 45 percent from the media and 55 percent from the general public.

It was the highest figure ever recorded by ACPO, and one that is expected to continue rising, Wise told the Open Government Partnership's (OGP) Summit in London.

Among the challenges of dealing with high number of requests is the fact that the 43 police forces have different data management systems, which means that data can not be easily extracted in a one-size-fits-all way. It may be therefore time-consuming to get the same type of data from all the different systems, which is significant as public authorities are allowed to reject requests for information if the collection of the data is too costly.

Another issue is poor records management.

"We've still got paper records," said Wise. "We need to digitise information. I think we're a few years a way [yet]."

Dealing with the requests has also required a major shift in the police culture, Wise added, saying that there is now a greater awareness of FOI in the force.

Despite the technical hindrances, the police has been trying to use technology to be more transparent, Wise said.

For example, police forces across the country have embraced social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with citizens about their work.

In addition, the police have tried to use data innovatively, by mapping crimes through

But these efforts are not without cultural problems.

"People want to see [crime] statistics, but people don't want to report it and be a statistic on that map," said Wise, adding that this reticence can lead to the misleading fact that crime levels have fallen.

"To an extent, the statistics don't actually represent where the crime actually occurred. I don't think we've got it right yet. It's a work in progress," he said.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

More about Facebook

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Anh Nguyen

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place