Data First: Cross-Justice System - England and Wales

This dataset connects Ministry of Justice data from the civil and family courts with different areas of the criminal justice system. This presents an unprecedented opportunity to understand cross-cutting questions about the overlaps and intersections between users of services in different justice jurisdictions. 

Data is available on an individual person- and case- level, from the start of criminal prosecutions in the magistrates’ courts and Crown Court, through to periods spent in prison custody or under supervision of the probation service. Additionally, data is available on adults and children involved in family court cases to do with child custody, care arrangements, divorce or adoption, as well as people (and companies) involved in civil cases as claimants or defendants. This will enable insights on end-to-end user journeys across the criminal, family and civil justice systems.

Component datasets and linkage

The cross-justice system linkage is composed of several datasets: Magistrates Court defendant data, Crown Court defendant data, family court data, civil court data, prisoner custodial journey data and probation data. The dataset uses a cross-justice system linking dataset which acts a lookup to connect de-identified records that refer to the same people across the different MoJ datasets.

Examples of research questions

  • What links are there between people’s cases in the civil and family courts, and their interactions with the criminal justice system?
  • How can we better understand how problems interact and reinforce each other, and how people move through different jurisdictions across the system as they attempt to resolve them?
  • Who are the ‘repeat’ users across the justice system? Does involvement in other areas of the justice system influence criminal (re-)offending? What works to enable effective outcomes across the justice system? For example, are some children in family court cases at an increased risk of (early) criminal offending compared to the general population?
  • How do individuals in the justice system vary and compare across jurisdictions in the system?

This list is illustrative only and intended to demonstrate the research potential of the dataset. For research priorities, see the areas of research interest or the ADR UK funding opportunity.

Core documentation

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User guide

The Data First user guide can be found on the Data First webpage

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Data dictionary

The Data First data catalogues can be found on the Data First webpage. The data dictionaries can also be found in the ADR UK Data Catalogue.

Other supporting resources

Resource Description
Synthetic data 1000 row, low-fidelity synthetic datasets are available for the magistrates’ court and Crown Court datasets. These can be requested by emailing
Data Explained Data Explained are produced by ADR UK Research Fellows discussing the first-hand experiences on the utility and limitations of the data for their research projects, for example, on racial bias in court cases. These can be found on the ADR UK project pages, and more will be published as they become available.
Ministry of Justice ARI 2020 The MoJ Areas of Research Interest sets out the department’s critical evidence gaps.
User Representation Panel report A report on the Data First User Representation Panel roundtable held 31 January 2022 on the research interest and potential of the criminal justice data. A User Representation Panel report on the cross-justice system linked dataset will be available soon, check the project page for updates.

Published research using the data

  • Non-journal article publications: An exploratory analysis of the magistrates’ and Crown Court defendant datasets has been published by the Ministry of Justice.
  • ADR UK Research Fellows outputs: Four ADR UK Research Fellows have undertaken pathfinder research using the linked magistrates’ and Crown Court defendant datasets. Their publications including blogs and Data Insights can be accessed via the ADR UK project page. Two ADR UK Research Fellows are using the probation and criminal justice system linked datasets. Sign up to our newsletter for updates.

Accessing the data

Access Data First datasets via the ONS Secure Research Service. Researchers who are fully accredited under the Digital Economy Act (2017) can apply for access.

1. Apply to become an accredited researcher under the Digital Economy Act 2017

2. Apply to access the cross-justice system linked dataset

3. Access the data securely

The options available to access this dataset are:

  • Safe Rooms – based in ONS offices in Titchfield and Newport, open Monday-Friday, 9.00-16.00
  • SafePod Network – a small, self-contained secure room with a single workstation
  • Assured Organisational Connectivity – the ability to access the ONS Secure Research Service from your office or home. Check what arrangements your institution already has or can put in place.

View further details and apply for access using the information on the ADR UK Data Catalogue.

Please be aware that the component datasets are being updated. Some information listed on the catalogue (e.g. time period covered and scope of linking dataset) may relate to previous versions. The latest data can be applied for but may not be immediately available to access. See also the Data First page on

View MoJ Data First datasets 


ADR UK Research Fellowships

ADR UK is funding policy-relevant research using ADR England flagship datasets. Research fellows will address priority research questions, generate insights and demonstrate the value of ADR England data. These datasets are held securely within the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service or other trusted research environments.

Learn more

Download the ADR England Flagship Datasets brochure