Does it matter if your data is better if nobody can use it?
On 1 July, JumpStart Georgia requested crime data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. We requested this information because we knew that according to the Administrative Code of Georgia, we are entitled to this information. It is public by law.
There are various stories we are working on where this information would shed light on what is going on. After the 2012 Parliamentary elections there were a lot of claims that crime had increased and it was not clear what that meant. Had it increased in general, in urban areas, or in specific areas? What were the types of these crimes? Where they petty or violent? Who was perpetrating these crimes? What age groups? Had a specific type of crime increased relative to previous years? If we had the raw data, we could begin to understand the trends and answer some of these questions.
It is now 5 August and we still haven't received the information we requested nor a reason why. What we do know is that the Ministry of Internal Affairs published a statement on 1 August criticizing that data published by the National Statistics Office in June do not reflect the real picture of crime in the country and are only based on information by the Prosecuter's Office, which includes only data for criminal prosecution. The Ministry continues by emphasizing that their information is complete and based on country-wide data.
We think that this type of statement would not have been necessary if the Ministry proactively published its crime statistics online in useful formats or at least responded to requests for this information in a timely manner. As a signatory of the Open Government Partnership, a voluntary partnership by which governments pledge to implement specific actions towards increased openness and transparency, and following the recent acknowledgement by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that the new government will continue to support the plan, we think that Georgia, and specifically, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, would set a great example by posting this data online and continuing to update it in the future.
We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to release the data we requested on 1 July so we and the public can draw our own conclusions from their more complete set of data and better understand crime trends in Georgia.
According to the Administrative Code of Georgia, a public agency has ten working days to respond to a request for public information. Twenty-five working days have passed since our request on 1 July.