2013-04-24 18:32:44 - The website of the newly-formed Police Scotland force has leapfrogged its way into second place in the coveted Sitemorse Police Force Index only a matter of days after the new authority was formed.
After consultation, the Scottish Government confirmed in 2011 that a single police service would be created in Scotland to replace the then-current eight forces. Police Scotland was formed on 1 April 2013 through the merger of the all eight Scottish territorial forces and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, and the organisation now has one single website.
The police are never out of the news, and their websites are the most important place for them to get their messages across before the inevitable filter of journalistic coverage. Improving web technology means that the sites can be more and more interactive, encouraging the public to come forward with information or to report crime.
Police websites are now a vital communication channel between
the police and the public they protect and serve, so the quarterly Sitemorse Index of how efficiently those sites work is, as ever ,an important marker.
In this, the second Index of 2013, we spotlight the websites of Cleveland, Police Scotland, and the North Wales Police as being the best from a group of more than 50 UK forces in total.
Full access to the survey - www.sitemorse.com/survey/report.html?rt=946&key=541c39e0
Of the sites we surveyed on quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, the Cleveland force’s site in North-East England was once again ahead of any other police website, with a total score of 8.7 out of a possible ten marks, a little down on last quarter’s score of 9.4 /10.
Covering a 230-mile area on the fringe of the North York moors, the Cleveland force looks after more than half a million people. Their website carries news, surveys and a feature that allows users to type in their postcode to see details about their local police officers. We rated the site very highly particularly on code quality and accessibility, and it has been a consistent performer in our surveys, never moving below second place over the last three years.
The now-replaced Dumfries and Galloway force had been rated highly by us on function, accessibility, code quality and performance, and was placed in first and second many times, but it’s comparatively rare for a new site, particularly covering an enormous bailiwick, to do so well so quickly. Police Scotland’s site scored 7.5/10 in their “first innings” but a 6/10 score for the accessibility component shows there is still room for some improvement.
The website of the Colwyn Bay-based North Wales Police remains in third spot in the Index this time, with an overall score of 6.2/10. North Wales Police have also been consistently good performers in our Index.
Making up the rest of the top-five placed sites this time are the City of London Police, up two places and the Essex force, rising seven. The Metropolitan Police website drops one spot to 6th - just three years ago the Met was almost at the bottom of our benchmark table in 51st place, so its web team have made big and consistent improvements overall in that time.
Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed results for a decade. The full results from this and other recent surveys can be seen on our website, www.sitemorse.com.
Top climbers this time include South Yorkshire Police (+23), Hampshire Constabulary (+19), Hertfordshire Constabulary (+19), Thames Valley Police (+19) and Northumbria Police (+17)
Big fallers in this survey include Lincolnshire Police (-13), Derbyshire Constabulary (-19), Police Service of Northern Ireland (-20), Nottinghamshire Police (-23) and Leicestershire Constabulary (down 38 places)
Interesting data on accessibility
The 'digital inclusion' of disabled people is important for many of the sectors we survey, as well as being backed by the force of the law. If someone with a disability, such as sight loss, can't access the information on a website then it could be seen as discrimination.
The Equality Act came into force in October 2010, replacing the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in England, Scotland and Wales. Like the DDA, the Equality Act was introduced with the intention of comprehensively tackling the discrimination which many disabled people face.
Highest scorer in the Police survey on accessibility, rated 9/10, was Thames Valley Police. Cleveland and North Wales each once again scored a creditable 8.
The Police Scotland site has only been in existence for a few short weeks, so immediately getting to almost the top of our table is quite an achievement, even building on the success of previous Scottish high scorers like Dumfries and Galloway. Given that many of the major police forces don’t do so well in our benchmarks, this major new organisation that has taken over from eight regional forces has made an impact from day one.
Well done to the top forces in particular for setting a great standard for others to follow. And our message to those police forces that did not do so well is – why not get an external viewpoint on how well your site performs – we are always prepared to share more detailed information on our results.
About the Index
The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users.
It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
Using Sitemorse’s services such as Governisation and the Web Manager’s Toolkit, which immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, will help demonstrate real improvement and ensure control, and ultimately confidence, in your web presence. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management.
This survey took place on January 2, 2013 and involved benchmarking more than 1,600,000 tests, checks and measures. Poorest code quality was recorded for the Greater Manchester Police site, with more than 86,000 failures. Fastest overall response time from any site tested was the Suffolk Constabulary.
• More information about our surveys and what they test can be seen on our website at www.sitemorse.com
• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 20 7183 5588, gpaddock@Sitemorse.com