NPC unlocks government data

By Benedict Rickey 20 December 2012

NPC welcomes the Ministry of Justice’s recent announcement to launch a Justice Data Lab, as part of Chris Grayling’s Rehabilitation Revolution:

‘To help support the proposed reforms, Government will be launching a nationwide ‘Justice Data Lab’. Organisations working to rehabilitate offenders at a local level will have access to high-quality re-offending data specific to the group of offenders they have been working with. This will allow them to focus only on what works, better demonstrate their effectiveness and ultimately cut crime in their area.’

This is a big win for criminal justice charities preparing for the Rehabilitation Revolution. There is a need for charities to be ready to bid for the new payment by results contracts it promotes, and in particular, to demonstrate their impact on offenders, which is what the Justice Data Lab is all about.

This announcement is also a big win for NPC. Although NPC often comments on government policy, we don’t always succeed in helping to change it. And when we set about convincing government to improve access to offending data for charities, we weren’t sure what to expect.

The story begins in August 2011 with an investigation into whether the technology existed to give charities secure access to offending data. Feasibility research showed it was possible. We presented our findings to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), which agreed the idea was worth a closer look.

But was it really needed?  In September 2012, NPC conducted a survey of over 230 charities and social enterprises in order to test demand. The vast majority were in favour. Our findings were fed back to MoJ, and then launched in a report last week, Unlocking Offending Data.

Fast forward to 19 December 2012 and the press release announcing the launch of the Justice Data Lab, which led to the popping of metaphorical champagne corks in our offices. Although we don’t want to over claim our contribution, we think we helped to make this happen and we’re really pleased about that. (In line with current thinking about measuring one’s impact on policy, we like to focus on contribution rather than attribution).

But this isn’t the end of the story. Having made the case to government, NPC will now support its implementation, working hard to ensure that the Justice Data Lab works for charities and social enterprises.

  • NPC’s work on the Justice Data Lab was funded by the Oak Foundation.