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Government seeks ‘better outcomes’ by linking data on homelessness, crime and addiction

A government program aims to collect and link data on crime, homelessness and substance abuse with the aim of providing better support for people with “complex needs”.

The Better Outcomes through Linked Data (BOLD) initiative is led by the Department of Justice and will integrate information from the Department of Justice, as well as data from the Departments of Health and Social Care and Upgrading, housing and communities, as well as the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales.

Once it has been processed through “a small number of data links”, all data used will then be “fully and securely anonymised”, which the privacy notice says is a “form of anonymisation”. which involves the deletion of any information – such as names, addresses and case numbers – that could identify the subject.

There is one exception to this anonymization that will allow probation officers to access personal information about offenders on file.

“In all other cases, only anonymized data will be used to inform national policy-making and research, with no decisions being made about individuals and no automated decision-making occurring in consequence,” the notice added.

The BOLD program will initially include four pilot projects respectively exploring how linked data could be used to help reduce homelessness; substance abuse; and recurrence; and supporting victims of crime.

The homelessness-focused project “aims to better understand why some people become homeless repeatedly, what services are most effective in preventing prison leavers from becoming homeless – and thereby reducing their risk of re-offending – and what role addiction treatment services can play a role in preventing homelessness”. , as directed by the Department of Justice.

Data on substance abuse, meanwhile, will be connected in an effort to shed light on “factors that lead to successful addiction rehabilitations for particular groups, such as prison leavers or sleepers at home.” the street”. The scope of this pilot project will include “Wales specific challenges”.

“The ultimate goal is to use data and evidence to improve the life outcomes of people receiving addiction treatment, by improving the assessment of additional needs when individuals come into contact with any government service” , the guidelines added.

The Recidivism Reduction Project will link information from different sources with the aim of “better understanding the impact of specific interventions to help offenders turn their backs on crime, particularly in terms of related outcomes, [such as] employment, health, housing and family,” according to the Ministry of Justice.

The Victim Pathways project aims to respond to the 36% of victims of crime who are dissatisfied with the way their case is handled by the criminal justice system. This pilot project will examine “how government and third sector services can most effectively support victims of crime to cope and recover and seek justice with confidence,” the ministry said.

The Department of Justice guidelines said: “The government is responsible for supporting people with multiple complex needs, such as the homeless, victims of crime and offenders. This is often difficult because information on the challenges these people face is held by different ministries and administrations and is not frequently shared. The Department of Justice-led BOLD program was created to demonstrate how people with complex needs can be better supported by connecting and enhancing government data held about them in a safe and secure way. BOLD will initially focus on reducing homelessness, supporting victims of crime, reducing substance abuse and reducing recidivism.

He added: “BOLD is about using data and evidence to design better services for people, but given the volume, sensitivity and complexity of the data collected by the government, BOLD takes its responsibilities to deal with this data in a proportionate and ethical manner, and is committed to strong ethical standards.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW’s sister title, where this article first appeared