“If you’re taking an emergency call (999 in the U.K.), it’s easy to spell a name wrong. And sometimes people reporting a crime won’t give you their name at all. So, after 13 years, we’d collected thousands of duplicate or incorrect records. That might seem trivial, but linking data with the right person can be crucial to a case.
You might speak to a vulnerable person and miss that they’re a repeat victim of crime. The bottom line is that, to keep people safe, we needed better data.
I asked Jon (at Experian) if he could help. He certainly could. I applied for Home Office funding for the project and, after three nerve-wracking months, we actually won it. Then it was, ‘Alright, how’s this going to work?’.
Experian set up a system for us called Pandora. It took our data, cleansed it using Experian data – filling in gaps, adding data streams so that, using our own matching criteria, we managed to merge thousands of records.
The result was data that’s as clean and accurate as we could possibly get it. We call it our Golden Nominal database — and the difference is phenomenal.
Now, incoming calls prompt one or two records instead of hundreds, giving us a clear view of the caller. If someone’s calling about domestic violence, we’ll see whether they’re a repeat victim, and get them help fast.
And frontline officers can run instant checks on a suspect from a phone, seeing how big a risk they pose and whether to call for support.
We’ve got a way to go, but we’re already creating a thousand fewer records a week. And it’s all down to Experian’s work behind the scenes. It’s delivering exactly what we wanted.”