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

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.

Please note: there may be the opportunity to apply for a funding extension at the end of the six-month 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.

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, including at the applicant webinar on 18 September 2020 (see below).

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.


A number of six-month research grants are available, up to a maximum value of £65,000 at full economic cost (FEC) with a start date no later than 15 May 2021. 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, where you will be able to learn more about the dataset and its uses and have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have, will be held on 18 September 2020. Please sign up to our mailing list to receive more information about the webinar (including sign up forms) when it is released.


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 by 10 September 2020. Please note that the questionnaire is not a mandatory requirement and information will not be used for any assessment purposes, nor will individual responses be provided. 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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