Funding opportunity: ADR UK welcomes applications for magistrates’ and Crown Court data Research Fellowships

*Please note this funding opportunity has now closed.

*Update 25 September 2020: The scope of this funding opportunity has been increased and researchers can now apply to use the case level and defendant level linking data which will enable the joining of the single source magistrates’ and Crown Court datasets already promoted through this call. To recognise this additional opportunity researchers can now apply for between 6 and 12 months of funding (previously 6 months funding only). The application deadline of 20 October remains the same. You can see the full details in the updated Full Call Specification.

These de-identified, research-ready datasets are the first to made available from Data First, a programme led by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and funded by ADR UK to link and enable access to administrative data from across the justice system and beyond for research.

This is the first of a number of open calls seeking proposals from individual researchers to be the first users of newly available, research-ready administrative data. The ADR UK Research Fellowships scheme has been developed to meet the following three objectives with associated expectations of researchers and research projects:

  • Useful research: to demonstrate the potential of administrative data research for public policy impact within the timeframes.
  • Useful data: to develop the data as a useful research resource for future users.
  • Useful engagement: to foster opportunities between academia and government that allow fresh thinking to flourish, and to maintain public acceptance for the use of data for research purposes.

In particular, we are keen to receive applications proposing to explore the following:

  • The nature and extent of repeat court use
  • The relationship between sentencing and repeat court use
  • The relationship between court experiences and outcomes in relation to demographic characteristics such as age and ethnicity.

However, this is not a comprehensive or restrictive set of interests and applications exploring further topics will also be considered.

The data will be made available to Fellows via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS). Joint or team applications are unfortunately not eligible at this time, though proposals may factor in research support or leadership and letters from supporting organisations are encouraged.

Further ADR UK Research Fellowship Calls, to be announced over the next 12 months, will promote the use of other administrative datasets. To be the first to hear about newly available data or funding opportunities, please sign up to our mailing list.

On 18 September we held an online applicant workshop for those who wanted to learn more about this funding opportunity. If you missed this, click here to watch the live recording.

Please note: there may be the opportunity to apply for a funding extension at the end of the fellowship period, subject to availability of funds. If further updates to the magistrates' and Crown Court data from the 'Data First' programme become available by this time, it will be possible to apply to use this additional data in a project extension request, if relevant.


The datasets

The ‘magistrates' court defendant case level dataset’ and the ‘Crown Court defendant case level dataset’ provide data on magistrates’ and Crown Court use between 2011 and 2019 (Crown Court data is provided from 2013). This data will provide insight into the magistrates’ and Crown Court user populations, including the nature and extent of repeat use. It will enable researchers to, for the first time, establish whether a defendant has entered the courts on more than one occasion, and will drive better policy decisions to reduce frequent use of the courts.

As of 25 September 2020, the scope of the call was increased to include the case level and defendant level linking data, which will enable the joining of the single source magistrates’ and Crown Court datasets already promoted through this call. This provides the opportunity to identify where records in the two criminal courts datasets refer to the same people and cases.

To recognise this additional opportunity researchers can now apply for between 6 and 12 months of funding (previously 6 months funding only). That said, using the linking data and/or extending the duration of the award beyond 6 months is not mandatory.

You can find out more about the data and its uses by downloading the Data First User Guide and Data Catalogues. Any additional enquiries about the data can be addressed to MoJ during the application writing stage.

Researcher access to the datasets will be through the ONS SRS safe settings. If the Covid-19 emergency is ongoing at the time projects are due to begin and this option is not available, we will seek to find alternative arrangements.


Researchers can apply for research grant lasting at least six months, and no more than 12 months, with an end date of no later than 31 March 2022. Funding will be pro-rated depending on duration up to a maximum of £130,000 per annum at 100% full economic cost 3 (FEC). We hope to fund between three and six projects to use the magistrates' and/or Crown Court datasets. Eligibility criteria are as per the standard Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Funding Rules.

Key conditions of the call include:

  • Proposals must serve a public interest as set out in the Research Code of Practice issued under the Digital Economy Act 2017
  • Willingness to share code and methodologies and capture learning for the MoJ user guide
  • Engagement at ADR UK’s stakeholder events
  • Willingness to consult with the Data First Representative User Panel to receive relevant input and advice on the planned research
  • Commitment to deliver at least two accessible/user-friendly outputs for publication on the ADR UK website, including one ‘Data Insight’ and one other output of the Fellow’s choice (further details in the full call specification)
  • Production of two ‘Data Explained’ outputs; one during or shortly following the funding period and the other within a year to record learnings about the data
  • In line with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)’s open access policy, any academic publications associated with research funded by ADR UK are expected to appear in an open access publication
  • All proposals will also need to go through the UK Statistics Authority Research Accreditation Panel (RAP), which will require that all fellows are Accredited Researchers under the 2017 Digital Economy Act.

Download the Full Call Specification for more detailed information about funding conditions, assessment criteria, how to apply and more. You may also find the answers to any questions you may have in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, and guidance for completing the Je-S application form in the Je-S guidance documentThe deadline for applications is 20 October 2020.

An applicant webinar took place on 18 September 2020, providing an opportunity for potential applications to learn more about the dataset and its uses. A recording of the event will soon be available here; please check back.


If you are interested in applying or have any questions about this funding opportunity or the dataset that you would like addressed at the webinar, please complete the online questionnaire. Please note that the questionnaire is not a mandatory requirement and information will not be used for any assessment purposes. For any additional enquires please refer to section 3.5 of the Full Call Specification for the most appropriate email address.

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