Criminal justice system - reliability and integration of data

26 Apr 2017

Queensland's criminal justice system prevents, detects, and investigates crimes. It delivers judicial processes, manages prisoners and offenders, and provides rehabilitation services.

The Queensland Police Service and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (through its Queensland Courts Service, Queensland Corrective Services, and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) are the prime agencies for delivering these services. Throughout this report, we refer to these entities collectively as criminal justice entities.

These entities collect valuable data on occurrences (crimes, traffic matters, missing persons, domestic violence, and other incidents), people, and property, and on their activities. They use the data when making decisions about their activities and when allocating resources.

The government relies on the statistics and reports generated from this data to set its policy direction. The public rely on it for an appreciation of levels of community safety.

Between 2010–11 and 2015–16, the Queensland Police Service recorded 2 174 144 occurrences with 2 809 283 reportable offences into the Queensland Police Records Information Management Exchange (QPRIME) system. The Queensland Police Service define a reportable offence as any act reported to, or becoming known by, the police that they consider, prima facie (at first view, before investigation), to be in breach of the criminal law.

The Queensland Police Service has an unacceptable amount of crime data across the state that is incomplete, inaccurate, and wrongly classified. Contributing to this are officers' poor understanding or use of data classification rules, poor guidance, inappropriate data classification practices and inadequate quality assurance controls. As a result, reported crime statistics are questionable at best and unreliable at worst, and should be treated with caution.

Underlying the crime statistics, we undertook a statewide assessment of Queensland Police QPRIME system data. Between 2010–11 and 2015–16, we found 22 per cent of all occurrence reports with reportable offences recorded in the Queensland Police Records Information Management Exchange (QPRIME) system, were incomplete, inaccurate or both.

We also identified trends in withdrawn and unfounded offences that warranted investigation.

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