Ministry of Justice: Better Outcomes through Linked Data (BOLD)

Better Outcomes through Linked Data (BOLD) is a Government data-linking programme which aims to improve the connectedness of government data in England and Wales.

Applies to England and Wales



The BOLD Programme

Government is responsible for supporting people with multiple complex needs such as those who are homeless, victims of crime and offenders. Often this is difficult because information about the challenges those individuals face is held across different government departments and administrations and not frequently shared.

The Ministry of Justice led BOLD programme has been created to demonstrate how people with complex needs can be better supported by linking and improving the government data held on them in a safe and secure way. BOLD will initially focus on reducing homelessness, supporting victims of crime, reducing substance misuse and reducing reoffending.

Data used in the Programme

The programme will use strictly de-identified data from the Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and Social Care, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Public Heath Wales and the Welsh Government in order to show how linking it can improve the support provided for those with complex needs. Our partnership and programme builds on learning from other initiatives such as Administrative Data Research (ADR) UK. BOLD will run until the end of 2024 and its findings used to deliver changes to how government supports those in need.

BOLD consists of 4 data and analysis pilot projects, each aiming to provide better data and evidence to support policy and the design of more effective services to people with multiple complex needs.

Reducing Homelessness

We know that those who are homeless or sleeping rough often have a variety of support needs, most commonly mental and physical-health needs, drug or alcohol dependency and offending histories. The Homelessness Pilot project aims to better understand why some people repeatedly become homeless, which services are most effective in preventing prison leavers from becoming homeless (and thereby decreasing their chances of reoffending), and what role drug treatment services can play in preventing homelessness.

Supporting Victims of Crime

36% of Victims report dissatisfaction with the way the Criminal Justice System (CJS) handled their case, with 32% of reported criminal cases dropped due to victims disengaging from an investigation or prosecution, with this figure having risen every year since 20142. The Victim Pathways Pilot project aims to better understand how government and third sector services can most effectively support victims of crime to cope and recover and to confidently seek justice. The ultimate goal is to use this evidence to improve victims’ experience of the criminal justice system and support them to achieve a positive justice outcome.

Reducing Substance Misuse

The illicit drugs trade costs society over £19 billion a year and drug deaths remain high. Those without stable accommodation or employment support can struggle to access and stay in treatment. The Substance Misuse Pilot project aims to better understand what factors drive successful rehabilitations from addiction for particular groups, such as prison leavers or rough sleepers. The ultimate goal is to use data and evidence to improve life outcomes for people receiving substance abuse treatment, through improving the assessment of additional needs where individuals come into contact with any government service. As part of this pilot, Welsh Government aim to ensure that challenges unique to Wales are also addressed.

Reducing Reoffending

We know that reoffending costs society approximately £18 billion a year. We know, however, that an ex-offender’s likelihood of reoffending is significantly decreased if they have a home, a job and access to healthcare. We are tackling the causes of reoffending in order to keep our communities safe, and the Prison Strategy White Paper, published in December 2021, sets out the Government’s ambitions to tackle the root causes of reoffending. The Reducing Reoffending Pilot project will support these ambitions by linking data to better understand the impact of specific interventions to help offenders turn their backs on crime, particularly in terms of their linked outcomes (employment, health, housing and family).

Privacy is at the heart of BOLD’s design and ethos

BOLD is about using data and evidence to design better services for people, but given the volume, sensitivity and complexity of the data collected by government, BOLD takes its responsibilities to proportionately and ethically handle this data very seriously, and commits itself to robust ethical standards. Find more information on how BOLD uses and keeps data safe, and how we are engaging the public to build trust in the document at the top of this page.

Further information, including analytical publications will be published on this page as they become available. A list of the datasets that BOLD is currently using can be found in the document at the top of this page, and will be regularly updated as the programme progresses.

For further information, contact

Published 23 June 2022