MoJ/ADR UK Data First Programme Academic Lead

Lead Research Organisation: Nottingham Trent University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


The Data First programme is a Ministry of Justice (MoJ)-led investment funded by Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK), part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This is a ground-breaking and pioneering new programme that will have a real impact on evidence across justice and beyond, and will allow for key lessons of experience to be cascaded nationally. This ambitious programme will help us to better understand and support our justice system users by improving and linking internal and external administrative data, making this available to analysts both in government and across academia, to enable and promote research in this field. The programme covers civil, family and criminal justice as well as emerging links to administrative data held by other government departments. Overall, the aims of this programme are to:
1. Improve administrative data flows and internal and external data linking
2. Strengthen MoJ's strategic research capabilities by facilitating research by external academics and researchers
3. Provide external academics with a sustainable and secure way to access relevant anonymised research-ready linked data extracts
This programme will include the commissioning of specific pieces of strategic research in line with our MoJ Areas of Research Interest and Evidence Strategy.
Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) is one of The Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) most important investments. ADR UK aims to facilitate the linking of data held by different parts of government, and enable safe and secure access for accredited researchers to these newly joined-up datasets. These datasets will form a sustainable and rich resource, enabling more nuanced and insightful research, and ultimately informing public policy and impacting lives across the UK. By linking data, we can unearth hidden patterns and trends that allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the invisible mechanisms that underpin our society. The Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) Data First Programme is one of the first strategically important programmes for ADR UK driven by a Westminster government department. The MoJ Data First research partnership aims to create linked datasets that will enable crucial research into the justice system. ADR UK is working with the MoJ to fund methodological work linking administrative data outputs across a broad range of justice services. By linking data from civil justice, family justice, the Crown Court and magistrates' court, we aim to create a justice-wide data inventory, enabling researchers to build a better understanding of users of the criminal, civil and family justice systems. This will provide new insights into, for example, the extent to which people facing civil and family problems also interact with the criminal justice system. The project has huge potential to shape our understanding of justice system users, understand what policies are effective, and improve services.

Planned Impact

The MoJ/ADR Data First Programme will assist understanding and supporting our justice system users by linking and improving MoJ data, carrying out quantitative and qualitative research on these data sets to fill key evidence gaps and making anonymised data available to academics for external research. It will offer unique insights about the users of the criminal, civil and family justice systems; who they are; how frequently they use our services; how they interact with broader public services across Government; with the aim of improving (and/or reducing) their interactions with the justice system and other public services. In order to further our understanding of this cohort, MoJ would also like to improve its data flows and internal and external (for example, with data from PHE, HMRC, the DfE and DWP) data linking, strengthen strategic research capabilities and enable more and better external research by involving academics and providing them with a sustainable and safe way in which they can access relevant anonymised data extracts.

This bid will enhance the available skills around data mapping, flows and linkage, making MoJ data more usable and connected to understand user interactions with justice & Government services (user journeys). It will support with resource to pursue additional external shares, giving the capacity to drive them forward in parallel, and in making the data ready and available for academics and other analysts across government to explore. In addition, specific pieces of strategic research on the anonymised datasets would be commissioned in line with MoJ Evidence Strategy. We envisage academics adding value in terms of adding analytical skills and expertise, particularly understanding 'what works', causality and robust methods of evaluation.

The bid will allow the creation of a pool of both quantitative and qualitative analysts to carry out data science, statistical analyses and research on the data supervised by a leading academic with knowledge and expertise of justice issues. This work will allow filling many evidence gaps, thus improving the evidence base for public policy decision making and delivery. For example, we will increase our knowledge base for reducing re-offending. As broader data shares are created we will increase the evidence base about the cohort of users of cross government services with multiple complex needs.

By providing an evidence base for public policy decision-making; for public service delivery for decisions which are likely to significantly benefit the UK, economy, society or quality of life of people in the UK; for improving Official Statistics; expanding existing research; significantly extending understanding of social or economic trends or events by improving knowledge; and improving the quality, coverage or presentation of existing statistical information The MoJ/ADR Data Frist Programme will benefit the following stakeholders: The public; Justice system's users and their families and social networks; Charitable organisations working with these users; Government departments involved; The courts and the criminal justice system (police, judiciary, probation and prison) and those working in these domains; The UK economy; and The UK society (current and future generations) at large.


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