Cafcass to contribute data towards major new project aiming to improve legal outcomes for children and families

Cafcass will contribute valuable administrative data towards a significant new project established by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO).

The four-and-a-half-year project, which was awarded a grant of £2.2m from the Nuffield Foundation, aims to use the data to provide information about the performance of the family justice system and to help improve legal outcomes for children and families.

Teresa Williams, Director of Strategy at Cafcass, said:

“We are delighted to be a part of this exciting project. A key priority in Cafcass’s future strategy is to ensure that we unlock the rich insights within our data about the children and families who are unfortunate enough to come into contact with the family justice system. Too often the experience of children and families in the system is ‘too little for too long and then too much too late’.

The potential for linked data to improve understanding of the opportunities for earlier intervention through a public health approach across England and Wales is immense.”


The data partnership will draw on the joint efforts and expertise of Lancaster University and the SAIL (Secure Anonymised Information Linkage) Databank developed at Swansea University. The SAIL Databank, an internationally acclaimed and trusted data repository that holds billions of anonymised person-based records, will host datasets from both Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru.

The project will make this data fully accessible to UK researchers, providing a valuable opportunity to understand the outcomes of children and families more clearly and explore their characteristics and pathways through services, therefore helping to improve evidence-informed decision-making in the family justice system.

Professor Karen Broadhurst of Lancaster University and Professor David Ford, Director of SAIL Databank at Swansea University Medical School will jointly lead the team of family justice and social policy researchers, statisticians, and data scientists who will work on this major new project.

Professor David Ford said:

“Linking together data from across the justice system and beyond will, for pretty much the first time, allow researchers to shed light on topics which have been largely invisible to practitioners and policymakers to date.”


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