Evaluation of a Database for Tracking Cases of Child Sexual Abuse [Taylor & Francis Online]


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Administrative databases are used by criminal justice professionals to guide specialist responses to crimes of child sexual abuse. Assumptions might be made that the database will be accurate, contemporaneous, complete, and meaningful; however, this may not be the case. The main aim of the current study was to critically evaluate a database used by practitioners for tracking cases of child sexual abuse, in order to identify evidence that may justify investment in improved data gathering and centralised information management systems. Three data quality dimensions were examined: (1) completeness, measured as data that were not missing and were of adequate breadth and depth, (2) accuracy, namely that the data are correct, and (3) believability, where the data may be regarded as credible or plausible. Results indicated that data quality was of concern for all three dimensions, with missing and inaccurate data found across a range of variables, and issues with believability found on two variables. The implications of these results for development of new data documentation methods are discussed.

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