Utilising the U.K. Freedom of Information Act 2000 for crime record data: Indications of the strength of records management in day to day police business.

Derek Johnson, Edward Hampson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This research paper considers the use of the U.K. Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) as a resource providing access to otherwise unavailable data from U.K. Police forces. Not seeking to be a critical examination of Police practice it offers insight to many aspects of records management appertaining to the police service provision of recorded crime. Authors consider whether record management is sufficiently integrated in to police practice, given the transparency called for by the FOIA, contemporary societal needs and the growing requirement to provide high value evidence led assessments of activity both within and external to the service. Design/methodology/approach: FOIA was utilised to collect data from all police forces in England & Wales through multiple requests. Carried out over a 15 month period three requests were collated and responses compared, allowing for examination of compliance with the legislation and reflections on the manner in which records were sought and ultimately disseminated. Findings: Generally responding to FOIA requests was well managed by English Police Forces. Methods of data management and collection practice were exposed which the authors suggest pose questions on the strength of records management consideration that may be worthy of further work. Configuration management of records is highlighted as an essential function given disparity of data releases experienced. Research limitations/implications: This research highlights the FOIA as a valuable methodological tool for academic researchers but is limited in respect of seeking firm contextual explanation of the Police internal procedures to answer requests. By making common requests over a long time period to the same Police forces it provides a clear study of FOIA processes and raises potentially significant questions for records management consideration. Practical implications: Findings provide advice on developing use of the FOIA as an academic methodological resource and reflect on the findings impact on internal police use of data and information records. Originality/value: This paper allows for reflection on the importance of high value records management in the day to day business of the police service and questions whether such knowledge areas are suitably considered. Covering an area of little previous academic enquiry the research informs criminal justice practitioners of areas for potential further discussion and academic researchers on the validity of using the FOIA as a valuable information source.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-268
JournalRecords Management Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2015


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