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A Shakespearean review


I wonder if I could beg your indulgence while I ride a small hobby-horse of my own. As well as being a (sadly occasional) blogger here at NL, I have other hats. One of those hats is as a champion of open data and in that capacity I sit on a body known as the Crime and Justice Transparency Sector Panel. What that means in practice is that I, and some other interested parties, try to persuade, encourage and monitor the release of data by the Ministry of Justice and associated organisations like the police.

Open data is quite sexy right now in government circles and so now is a good time to be persuading the powers that be to release data they hold so that you, I and lots of friendly geeks developers can do useful things with it and perhaps build interesting and whizzy apps.

Very recently the government published the Shakespeare Review (Stephan, rather than William Shakespeare). I have recently been told that:

The government, in response to the Shakespeare Review of Public Sector Information, has committed itself to publishing a core reference dataset, listing unpublished datasets together with a schedule of release. Government departments have been going through a process of identifying the data they hold and prioritising their release.

What I am given to understand is that we should all be telling the Government, right now, that particular datasets need to be released. Readers of NL will know only too well how important it is not to miss an opportunity.

To that end, can I ask all of you to think about giving feedback? There is a list of datasets that are as yet unpublished on the site. The site expects you to create an account, and then feedback on particular datasets. The feedback is ideally directed at economic and social growth.

Rather than “yes this would be cool to know” the government are going to be most persuaded by “yes, if we had this data, £X million could be saved by… While it might be hard to come up with many concrete millions to be saved, I am sure readers could think of benefits, particularly for the following datasets for which I have sketched out some ideas:

  • Possession Claims Online – if we had open data access to this site we would know which mortgage companies are bringing possession claims, in what quantity and where. Funding could be targeted, early, at areas of most need that show up. Potential borrowers could be warned about the “form” their lender has for bringing claims. A not very well informed defendant coming into an advice centre door who has lost their paperwork could be found on the system and an advisor could start there.
  • Caseman – described as “case management system for county court cases”. I don’t even know what information is in there, but surely the data would show up inefficiencies in the court system and help improve it as well as the advantages listed for PCOL above.
  • Tribunal data – I have complained that this is about as useful a description as saying “we have stuff”, but again readers may have more idea than I.

It would be really great if some readers of this blog gave some persuasive feedback on these datasets. At the moment most datasets have attracted no feedback whatsoever. I do not want to see the government shrugging its shoulders and saying – we didn’t release this because there was no interest.

Thank you for reading.



  1. Francis Davey: Open up data about justice - […] data, can I invite you to give feedback on some (or all) of these datasets. Note: I have blogged…

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