Spotlight on … our data function
In our latest Spotlight on series we shine a light on the data function in SCRA. We talk to our Data Manager, Donald Lamb to find out more…
So can you please tell us a bit about the data function at SCRA?
The data function is responsible for providing information around the Children’s Hearings System. It looks at all data from across SCRA, but the primary focus is around data held within our case management system, which is used for the recording of children’s cases.
The data function produces a range of reports for SCRA and partner agencies, but we also act as a point of contact for external agencies to request data.
The data function also supports the work of our local managers and our executive management team by the provision of high quality information which is relevant to their work. It also looks at data quality and works to resolve issues, either through recommending changes to our case management system or working with local teams to understand any areas where processes are not working properly.
What kind of data does SCRA hold and where does it come from?
Our data centres around children referred to SCRA and people associated with them, such as parents, carers and other family members, as well as teachers, social workers and victims of alleged offending. It includes all information SCRA has gathered about children referred including Reporter decisions, Hearings and Compulsory Supervision Orders.
The source of all the data is the information which is entered by SCRA staff onto our case management system or data which the system automatically picks up from partner agencies, for instance, police referral reports.
What does SCRA do with this data?
We analyse our data to look at counts and trends over time and we use this to inform SCRA and the wider Hearings System about changes that are taking place. We do this by transforming the data into key statistics, which are generally presented in a visual format such as graphs to make it more accessible to whoever is using the data. We also use individual level data for a variety of internal and external purposes within SCRA’s data sharing powers. This includes reporting to SCRA’s Board on casework statistics and performance as well as organisational data more generally around areas like staff absences. Data is also used to support research projects and the development of policy within SCRA and the Scottish Government.
Does SCRA publish any of this data?
Yes, we publish official statistics annually which cover the prior financial year (April to March). This contains detailed analysis about the key areas within the Hearings System and compares them with prior years. The information can be accessed here on our website.
Does SCRA share any data with partners?
Yes, we share a wide range of data with partners. This can take the form of lists of children to help local authorities manage non-disclosure cases (cases where some information must not be shared with certain individuals to keep the child safe). We also share Reporter decisions with the police so that they can update their records.
Data sharing is often in the form of reports summarising data over a period of time, for instance, the number of Hearings per quarter. An example of this is our quarterly CPC report which is used for discussion at Child Protection Committees. Child Protection Committees are a local authority level partnership between organisations which develops, improves and puts in place child protection strategies.
Has our data led to improvements/changes?
Primarily the data provides the context for our Localities and local authorities to support local knowledge, but it is used nationally to inform policy. For instance data around types of offending, was used to support the work around the raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 which is being implemented later this month. Data is also used by Localities to work with partners where there are significant changes in data or significant differences from the national picture, an example of this is police non-offence referrals. These can vary greatly in terms of volumes depending on police processes and the data can be used to provide evidence for Locality managers to use at discussions with the police around why the changes are occurring. In terms of the data quality work, the identification of issues helps reduce risks for children through system improvements or staff training.
Any questions about data?
We would love to hear from you. You can contact us via – firstname.lastname@example.org.