The publication of R&S Bulletin 15/2014 brought the publication series for the ‘Northern Ireland Prison Population’ series back on course following delays caused by the discovery of a data anomaly in receptions information within the ‘Northern Ireland Prison Population in 2009’ publication. This anomaly was subsequently corrected with the publication of receptions information for 2009-12 in R&S Bulletin 10/2014. The publication of Bulletin 15/2014 in November 2014 then presented information on both population and receptions for the year 2013, bringing the position fully up to date.
The interruption in the series overall provided further opportunity for assessing the needs of customers/stakeholders in the publications and establishing what improvements or alterations could be made to hone its content more precisely to user needs.
A series of detailed consultation exercises of known and potential users of prison statistics were therefore undertaken in late 2013 and early 2014 to identify the preferred longer-term structure and format of publications. In addition to online survey input conducted across Northern Ireland, the views of selected British, Irish and European statistical colleagues and academics were also sought. A link to the outcome of this survey is available below (see the ‘Your views sought’ section).
Four issues emerged in particular from this consultation. Specifically there was interest expressed among users or sub-groups of users in:
- greater use of comparative information
- more explanation of the reasons for trends/changes across years
- provision of future population projections
- provision of figures on a financial as well as calendar year basis
Some of these expressed needs are dependent on other areas of work which are currently in the early stages of development. This applies in particular to providing future prison population projections where a separate programme of work is currently being initiated by the Department to develop an enhanced prison population model.
The provision of figures on a financial year basis was requested by a substantial proportion of respondents. Subject to resourcing constraints and other priorities, it would be the intention to include the publication of financial year information in the next bulletin (so that high-level financial year information for 2014/15 would also be available with the 2014 calendar year bulletin). Beyond this, the mechanism for more routine supply of such data remains to be resolved. One option might be via the provision of quarterly information but further examination of the nature of the expressed need for financial year data is required before the final answer can be determined.
Quality assurance arrangements for source administrative data
An outline of the dependencies on and data quality assurance procedures for administrative data used in production of Northern Ireland Prison Statistics publications is given below.
- R & S Bulletin 18/2015 - The Northern Ireland prison population 2014 and 2014/15
- R & S Bulletin 15/2014 - The Northern Ireland prison population 2013
- The Northern Ireland prison population: receptions 2009-2012
- R & S Bulletin 6/2013 - The Northern Ireland average prison population in 2012
- R & S Bulletin 2/2010 - the Northern Ireland prison population in 2009
Your views sought
A series of detailed consultation exercises of known and potential users of prison statistics were undertaken in late 2013 and early 2014 to identify the preferred longer-term structure and format of publications. In addition to online survey input conducted across Northern Ireland, the views of selected British, Irish and European statistical colleagues and academics were also sought. The outcome of the online survey conducted is available below: