WWCSC become first charity to create an archive in the Office for National Statistics

20 October 2022

Data sharing is happening around us every day, in many different ways – for example, we share our data every time we buy something online. When it comes to research, collecting and sharing data is pivotal to producing new knowledge to inform policy, change opinions and evidence guidelines. However, all data has protections around its use and access, and research based data is no different.

These protections are there for good reasons, but can at times be barriers to driving forward research. At WWCSC, we believe in the importance of safe data sharing and in this context, are delighted to announce that WWCSC is the first charity in the UK to place children’s social care research data into the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) database (known as the Secure Research Service).

Until now, research data from research charities has remained internal and more difficult to access. By placing ours in the ONS’ database, it can be securely accessed by researchers for new research projects in a way that has not previously been achieved. We therefore believe we are taking a big step towards improving research and consequently, a brighter future for children and families.

Due to the very sensitive data we use, the WWCSC Data Archive has taken over a year to create, and every consideration has been made for access and data types to ensure that it continues to protect the identities of those whose data we store. The store also benefits from the ONS’s “5 Safes” protection method, widely considered to use some of the strictest security rules for a research database.

The WWCSC Data Archive is still in its infancy, although we’re building the pathways from initial research to archive, where data from one piece of research will be able to be used directly in another. Not only will the efficiency savings be considerable, but as data will not need to be recollected, our new archive also has the potential to reduce the burden on children and families, as they will not need to answer the same questions asked by different researchers where there are crossovers.

This means that in the future, careful data sharing should make research quicker and easier for researchers. And we hope, in turn, that this will speed up our search to find what works for children and young people.

To find out more about the WWCSC Data Archive, James will be hosting a webinar on Monday 24 October at 1pm, in conjunction with The Data Lab, DataFest2022. You are able to sign up to attend here.

If you’d like to hear more about the work of a Data Protection Officer in research and James’s journey creating the WWCSC Data Archive, he will also be speaking at these upcoming events:

15 Feb 2023The Second Annual NHS Data Event 2023How compliance within data sharing can improve the future of social care
23 Feb 20232023 Global Data Governance and Data Quality Leadership SummitImplementing a data governance process for archiving research data into the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Trusted Research Environments.