Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Parental Social Licence for Operational Data Linkage

Further Information HereParent Data Website
Parental Social
Parental Social License

About the Project

National and local government departments and services collect and hold information about families, such as taxation, medical records, pupil data, police records. These different data sources can be linked together and used operationally through the application of algorithms to identify individual families for service intervention, with data linkage and analysis carried out in-house or outsourced to private data analytic companies. On the one hand, data linkage and analytics offer more efficient public services based on predictive risk modelling to pre-empt problems, and targeting for enhanced outcomes. One the other hand, issues have been raised about data security, consent, deterring parents from using services, and the extent of public acceptance and trust - known as social licence.

This study will fill a vital gap in knowledge about the dynamics of social licence and trust for operational data linkage and analytics among parents of dependent children, in a context where policy developments, and data linkage and analytics practices to inform services interventions may be moving ahead of public knowledge and consent.

Specifically it will undertake a series of interlinked systematic and in-depth research activities to provide a multidimensional understanding.

1.Identify the various supportive and critical rationales for data linkage and analytics, predictive risk modelling, and family intervention by conducting an analysis of the content of reports and discussions by national and local government, data analytic companies, charities and advocacy groups, parenting sites, and mainstream media, reports and discussions.
2. Ascertain the consensus among parents about what is acceptable or unacceptable in relation to data linkage and analytics as a basis for risk modelling and intervention in family lives, and any differences between parents from different social groups (e.g. gender, social class, ethnicity) in social licence and trust, through a survey of c. 900 parents of dependent children.
3. Examine how different social groups of parents articulate and negotiate their perspectives on operational data linkage and analytics, predictive risk modelling, and potential benefits or harms through holding discussions with up to five groups each made up of, for example, mothers or fathers, minority ethnic parents, affluent or disadvantaged parents, urban or rural residents.
4. Explore the specific views and experiences of parents who are engaging with family service interventions on the data held about them, and the parameters of their social licence and bases for trust in operational data linkage and analytics, through individual interviews with up to 20 of them.

Planned Impact
The research will fill the gap in knowledge by providing evidence about social licence for operational data linkage and analytics for family intervention among parents of dependent children. The project will be of benefit to:
- Stakeholders with an interest in data regulation, ethical practice and social licence: governmental, eg. Office for Statistics Regulation, Information Commissioner; Local Government Association; charitable foundations, eg. Nuffield's Ada Lovelace Institute, Family Justice Observatory; advocacy groups, eg. defenddigitalme, Privacy International; and The Alan Turing Institute public policy programme.
- National and local statutory and voluntary family service policymakers and providers, and advocacy groups, with a stake in social licence for operational data linkage and analytics, eg. Troubled Families Team, Family Action, Barnardos, Family Rights Group.
- Public, especially parents, who have an interest in being informed and who are social licence stakeholders.

Co-Investigator Ros Edwards
Co-Investigator Ros Edwards

Rosalind is a co-director of the research project. She is Professor of Sociology at the University of Southampton, and has researched and published extensively on family issues, services and policies. Ros is leading on the review of published reports and online discussions about data linkage and analytics, and the survey of parents’ attitudes, and contributing to all other aspects of the project.

Co-Investigator Professor Val Gillies

Val is a co-director of the research project. She is Professor of Social Policy/Criminology at the University of Westminster. She researches in the area of family, social class, marginalised children and young people, and historical comparative analysis. Val is leading on the group and individual interviews with parents, as well as contributing to all other aspects of the project.

Sarah Gorin
Senior Research Fellow Sarah Gorin

Sarah is the Senior Research Fellow working on the project, based at the University of Southampton. She has extensive experience of conducting research in the field of children’s social care. Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day conduct of research and is contributing to all aspects of the project.

Are you involved in a research project? Click here
Privacy Settings