A step forward in the integration of local police forces in police statistics

On 18 July the decree to shape the Centre for the Elaboration of Police Data in the Basque Country , formally created by the Law 15/2012, of 28 June, for the organisation of the public security system in the Basque Country. The centre is defined as an administrative organ with competence for dealing with (gathering, storing, elaboration, classification and communication) data which is necessary for police agencies. The definition is very significant for a range of reasons.

28_udaltzaingoa01First of all, it aims to create a sole data base for both the Ertzaintza as well as Euskadi’s local police forces. The municipalities affected sign specific agreements with the Department of the Interior to give structure to the participation of local police forces, related to areas to be the focus of shared information, their characteristics and technical requirements necessary for the use of common data bases.

The Basque Country thereby joins the process initiated in Catalonia in 2002, which has meant that the immense majority of Catalonia’s local police forces (208 of 214) share the same data base with the Mossos d’Esquadra, with information of police interest. This process has also required signing ad hoc* agreements with each and every municipality to ensure the incorporation of its local police service.

Taking into account the development and dimensions that local police forces have had over recent decades, the inclusion of data relative to their activities is very relevant in a common instrument which facilitates an environment which is more in tune with the context of security. Police data shows one black spot because of the low level of complaints in reference to criminal activities for several reasons. If, furthermore, the data corresponding to police forces with the biggest presence within a territory are not added to police statistics, an important part of the information about police activity which may be of interest, for example, to resolve cases or generate intelligence, is lost.

Secondly, the Basque centre offers an interesting new concept: the organism is defined within the framework of the Department of the Interior (more specifically of the Deputy Council of Security), but beyond the structure of the police, which may create a small distance from the day-to-day organisation of the main police force (the Ertzaintza) and offers a more global idea as a data base for the whole police service in the Basque Country. The incorporation of a representative of the Ertzaintza, and another from local police forces, with a computer expert and another expert in fundamental rights, means that the Centre of Data Elaboration is a technical organ with plenty of autonomy in relation to the organisations which will provide it with data.

If this initiative is consolidated —we must think so—, other actors will have to take measures in the same direction, as, otherwise, comparing police statistics will become impossible, as in the rest of the country police data does not include local police records. This is the current situation when the Ministry of the Interior compares data with the Department of the Interior of the Generalitat, which respond to different realities and therefore create confusion. The Ministry only includes data from the Policia Nacional and the Guardia Civil, whereas the Department of the Interior, as well as the Mossos d’Esquadra’s data, also includes data from Catalonia’s local police forces, and obviously records higher crime rates.

* Refer to this example,agreement.

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