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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are asking local authorities to take any steps to improve the accuracy and consistency of their January count of gypsies. [HL159]
No. My department asks local authorities to supply information on numbers of gypsy caravans on a standard, clearly defined proforma with guidance notes to assist completion. This helps to ensure both consistency and accuracy in returns. In addition, my department carries out validation checks on any marked discrepancies between year on year data. While completion of the proforma is voluntary, it is relevant to point out that the return rate from local authorities has run at over 98 per cent for the last seven years.