Data: Is It All Useful?

The Datablog on the Guardian website posts stories along with the data behind them and some news items don’t get any more interesting with this inclusion.

The headline: Hunting Act convictions at their highest. Get the figures here

The story: Hunting Act convictions are at their highest yet according to new figures out with 57 convictions alone in 2009. Animal Safety legislation usually has very low rates of offences and convictions, for example the Deer Act 1991 had three offences and two convictions.

The Data:

More Data:

Convictions of the Hunting Act from 2005-2009 can be found on the spreadsheet alongside a comparison with other animal legislation convictions. The Guardian asks “What can you do with this data?”

My lack of creativity could be at the forefront but I can’t see what else I can do with this data. I am impressed that an article could be written on such few figures, barely a description really, with the most important part being the headline. I do see, however, a starting off point for some further questions.

There are three comments that follow the article in the Guardian and the third one by Sparclear seems the most useful.

“Pathetically low figures considering the widespread flouting of the Act.”
=> How much flouting of the rules has there been?
=> Is there a source of data for how many hunts go on? how many are illegal?

Many subsidiary industries evolved to thrive on the Hunt. As well as all the folks who look after the horses (and their vets and saddlers and livery stables and fencing and feedstuffs) there’s a whole class of outdoor workers, kennel keepers, beaters, gamekeepers, gunsmiths, types of forester whose winter economy is dictated by bloodsports. There are clothing shops and pubs and B & B’s, hotels, and farm kitchens which book the catering for particular events a whole year ahead.

=> What information is available on these activities? where would we find it?

Some information is available on the Guardian’s Hunting site but not all of it, especially not related to the extra activities. The additional data would be most useful for providing a context to the numbers provided. 91 offences and 57 convictions do make for the highest figures in the last five years but without any further context they are still quite meaningless.

Comparison to other animal related Acts may be a useful way of pointing out that this is not the same type of story.

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