Website benchmark (@policeuk) - Police websites don’t all enforce the law!
19 Jul 2012
Our quarterly survey of the websites of more than 50 police forces across the UK has shown little improvement overall, but spotlighted those forces who do have efficient sites.
Of the sites we surveyed on quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, Dumfries and Galloway Police’s site was once again head and shoulders ahead of any other police force site, with a total score of more than nine out of ten possible marks.
The testing is undertaken by Sitemorse using automated software that reads the first 125 pages of each site to generate a ranked table.
Other top-rated Scottish websites are run by the Strathclyde, Fife, Grampian and Lothian and Borders forces. The top 12 websites for this quarterly survey also include Cleveland, who have topped the table for a number of recent surveys, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, City of London and Lincolnshire in England and North Wales Police and also the Gwent force in Wales.
The Dumfries and Galloway force covers around 2,500 miles of South-West Scotland, and the force website likewise has a large area to cover in terms of its audience, with advice on everything from child protection to giving witness statements in court. We rated the website highly on function, accessibility, code quality and performance, and on these criteria it was well ahead of its nearest rivals.
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.
Climbers this time include Merseyside, Central Scotland and Tayside, all of whom have risen between 20 and 25 places in our table. We weren’t very complimentary about the police advice website, Ask The Police, three months ago after revealing their site scored zero on accessibility. But the website has improved overall this time and risen from the foot of the table to 26th position. Highest climber this time is the Police Service of Northern Ireland, rising 27 places to take 15th position with a total score of just under five out of ten.
However, the West Yorkshire and Dorset Police websites both dropped 16 places, Lothian and Borders 21, Strathclyde 24 and Grampian a whopping 41 places. We do expect a certain amount of volatility in our surveys because of the sheer numbers involved and the fact that constant changes are being made to large numbers of sites.
At the very bottom of the table are the Humberside, Devon and Hampshire forces plus the Independent Police Complaints Commission, whose website once again scored less than three out of a possible ten points in the survey.
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 scorers in the Police sector on accessibility, rated 9, were Dumfries and Galloway. Gwent and the North Wales force scored a creditable 8.
Only two websites, Humberside and the ‘Ask The Police’ site scored zero on accessibility, but around one-third of the sites surveyed scored poorly in this area, with scores below five out of ten.
Our view has not changed since our last survey of this sector three months ago. In tough times with downward pressure on budgets, it’s good to see some police forces realise their websites are not only a good communication channel with the public but a way to actively cut crime.
Sites with errors and problems or failings in the accessibility area hamper this effort, and we’d like to see more forces follow Dumfries and Galloway’s example of a fully functional, accessible site.
About our surveys, and how they work
For more than a decade, Sitemorse has been the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring, recording and benchmarking.
Our unique Index publications, published several times a year, provide an up to the minute snapshot of the best and brightest business websites, with insight into which are passing – and failing - vital tests in performance, compliance, and accessibility.
Our software is used to test the sites of major organisations in a variety of sectors, (for example, FTSE All Share companies, and the UK Top 500 retail companies) to compile an index of who ‘does the web’ best.
Sitemorse is now the suite of choice for organisations wishing to ensure their sites provide total, holistic web governance and a great user experience. Our hundreds of clients across major corporates, local and national government, utilities, financials and the health sector rely on us to help them improve the performance, compliance and quality of their websites, delivering control and web confidence.
Web content management systems alone cannot hope to cover major issues such as performance, compliance, brand, accessibility and quality without help. Our products integrate (including pre-live checking - within your CMS) to ensure these vital areas are constantly under control.
We offer three levels of products, from our enterprise platform 'Governisation', a blend of governance and optimisation, to a suite of tools to help web editors and managers, as well as free in-browser tools that can be used by any web user to quickly ensure pages are error-free (our web managers toolkit). All our services are SaaS based, with no set-up or management and are designed to ensure that our hundreds of clients in major corporations, the financial sector, and central and local government have total confidence in their websites.
This survey took place on July 4, 2012 and involved benchmarking more than 100,000 separate URLs. Poorest code quality was recorded for the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency plc site, with more than 14,000 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 1525 375057, gpaddock@Sitemorse.com
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