Latest output from Data First is ready to provide insight into family court system
As of this week, accredited researchers can apply to use a new dataset linking de-identified administrative data from the family court system in England and Wales, as a result of the Data First programme.
The family court dataset is supported by a suite of materials to enable accredited researchers – across government and academia – to make the best of use of this data to improve our understanding of justice-system use. These resources include a Data First user guide and data catalogue, which describe the nature and the quality of the data shared.
Data First is a ground-breaking three-year data linking programme, led by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and funded by ADR UK. The project aims to unlock the potential of the wealth of data already held by MoJ, linking administrative datasets from across the justice system and beyond to better inform policy related to crime and justice.
This latest output follows the release of the Criminal Courts and Prisons linking dataset, which was made available in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS) in May 2021 for accredited researchers to apply to use.
About the data
The family court dataset provides data on family court cases in England and Wales between 1 January 2011 and 31 January 2021. This dataset will enable researchers to analyse cases including case type, key dates, related cases and originating court. Researchers will also be able to examine information about events within cases, for example, hearings, orders made by the court and administrative processes. The dataset also includes de-identified information about people involved in court cases such as their characteristics (age, sex and area of residence) and role in case.
The dataset has been de-duplicated, which means that multiple instances of the same person appearing before the family court between 1 January 2011 and 31 January 2021 are identified and assigned a unique identifier. This enables researchers to establish if the same user has entered the family court more than once as well as the frequencies, purpose and outcomes of these appearances, whilst ensuring data remains de-identified.
The new family court dataset, in addition to existing and future outputs from Data First, will help researchers better understand end-to-end experiences of justice system users. This can in turn provide further evidence to underpin the development of government policies and drive real progress in tackling social and justice problems.
How to access the dataset
Researchers seeking to securely access any of the datasets produced by the Data First programme must first become an accredited researcher by completing the relevant forms from the UK Statistics Authority and submitting them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are already an accredited researcher, you can apply to access the specific data required for your project on gov.uk.