Prisoner custodial journey level dataset becomes third research-ready output of Data First

The 'prisoner custodial journey level 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 user guide and data catalogue which describe the nature and quality of the data.

This release serves as a testament to the strides already made by the Data First project. It follows the release of the ‘magistrates’ court defendant case level dataset’ in June 2020 and the ‘Crown Court defendant case level dataset’ two months later, which have since been linked so that researchers can connect people and cases between the two criminal courts.

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 inform evidence-based crime and justice policy.

About the data

The prisoner custodial journey level dataset provides information on individual instances of prison experience, enabling researchers to follow a prisoner’s journey within the prison system and within selected young offenders’ institutions in England and Wales up to June 2020. The data is extracted from the Prison National Offender Management Information System (P-NOMIS) and will enable analysis of prisoner characteristics and patterns of reoffending that lead to repeat custody. This can in turn inform better policy decisions to mitigate repeat custody.

Lord Justice Fulford, Vice President of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and Judicial Lead on Data, said last year: “I consider this to be an extremely important project, which has been established according to all of the principles that necessarily apply to work of this kind. In a sentence, it will enable critical research to be undertaken by accredited professionals, whilst protecting the identities of those involved in the individual cases.

"It is clearly vital that we make the best and the most responsible use of our invaluable data resource, without undermining the independence of the judiciary, the fair administration of justice or the privacy of those who are entitled to expect protection. I am reassured by the collaborative approach that has been adopted, and I look forward to being briefed on this developing enterprise.”

How to access the dataset

Researchers seeking to securely access this new de-identified dataset must first become an accredited researcher by completing the relevant forms from the UK Statistics Authority and submitting them to

If you are already an accredited researcher, you can apply to access the specific data required for your project on

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