Working with PNLD, we helped to make crucial information more readily accessible to all the Police Forces of England and Wales

Project Overview

A PDMS-built database was implemented by 40 out of 43 Police Forces in England and Wales. The database revolutionised access to crime and user satisfaction data, making significant reductions in the administrative burden involved in recording and analysing information of this kind.

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PNSD was the brainchild of the PNLD team, who are also responsible for and the national Police FAQ database. PDMS, as the PNLD suppliers were commissioned to develop the PNSD, as a sister module to PNLD. The system ensured easy and timely access to Forces' data with minimal administrative or financial overhead

Prior to inception of PNSD, police statistics were measured through a programme called iQuanta which had numerous disadvantages. Performance evaluators within Forces that wanted to explore the underlying data associated with iQuanta outputs had two choices, they either trawled through the system to extract and import the relevant data into a spreadsheet or database applications, taking a great deal of time and scope for human error, or they got in touch with contacts in other forces and troubled colleagues to provide data, again incurring a significant amount of wasted time in data gathering.

The ACPO Performance Measurement Development (PMD) Committee identified a need for detailed data, in a format suitable for analysis, particularly in relation to crime and user satisfaction. The PMD specified requirements and an application was developed using existing infrastructure associated with the Police National Legal Database (to allow for compatibility).

'Our police forces are famously time poor and their resources are always under pressure,' said Chris Gledhill, Managing Director of PDMS, the company which designed and developed the PNSD. 'This database tool will alleviate a huge administrative burden for forces when analysing crime and user satisfaction statistics, and as such is a great example of a very beneficial application of information technology.'

The PNSD system allowed each force to upload a copy of their monthly and quarterly spreadsheets directly to the PNSD system, where they were validated and stored. Spreadsheets were processed, automatically, as they arrived. The PNSD system was based on Foundations™, PDMS' own Net-based software development framework which allows high performance applications to be customised to meet specific needs faster, cheaper and better than bespoke or off-the-shelf solutions.

The database facilitated the monitoring of the time and place of violent crime and tracked the success and customer satisfaction with police operations. The police used statistics about crime to help make sense of any trends and this would help them do that quickly and accurately. It freed them up to get on with the job of policing and gave them the opportunity to enhance future service delivery.

The overall efficiency gains that the system brought are difficult to quantify but data extraction that would take hours in iQuanta was available in a matter of minutes, this served to both save time and increase the range of data that was analysed. The outcome of this was better informed decision making and action that was based on sound and comprehensive analysis.

The resulting output was formatted for automatic loading into a spreadsheet for local analysis. This 'opened up doors' for performance (practitioners) and offered both significant time savings in terms of data capture and access to information that was previously unavailable without relying on goodwill from colleagues, delivering significant efficiency gains for forces and improving decision making.