ADR UK is committed to putting public engagement at the centre of its work, as outlined in the ADR UK Public Engagement Strategy, 2021 - 2026.  

We define our public engagement as a purposeful set of activities designed to promote an ongoing dialogue with the public about administrative data research, driven by active listening and responding. This enables us to enrich understanding for everyone and maximise the impact of research, ensuring activities are meaningful and mutually beneficial.   

Our vision for public engagement 

ADR UK’s mission is to harness the potential of administrative data for research in the public interest. Administrative data is public data: we therefore have a duty to engage the public in how and why their data is used at every stage of our work, and to ensure our work demonstrates trustworthiness. Understanding the public’s needs, interests and concerns in relation to the use of their data, and shaping research to address these, is also essential for maximising the public benefit of administrative data research. Illustrated below are our five public engagement principles, which underpin the work we do.  

Our public engagement principles

Meaningful public engagement

Using appropriate methods to engage the public with a clear purpose at every stage of our work is crucial, as is evaluating and adapting our approaches to ensure they are effective.

Openness and transparency

Telling the public about our engagement and how we are implementing its findings is essential for demonstrating trustworthiness. Regular, open communication about our work, which is clear and accessible to diverse audiences, is key

A mutually beneficial relationship

We take a dialogue-based approach to listening and responding to public views regarding our work, while enabling our researchers to gain new insights and ideas to develop more impactful research.

Being inclusive

The voices we hear via our public engagement should be inclusive. Engaging with a diverse range of voices from across different backgrounds and identities and adapting our approaches to reduce any barriers to engagement is crucial to this.

Being accountable

It is important that we not only listen to the public, but act upon what they tell us. Ensuring there are appropriate mechanisms for feeding the findings of our public engagement into our work is essential.

Our public engagement activities 

ADR UK’s public engagement is led by the Public Engagement Steering Group, which is formed of public engagement leads from across our UK-wide partnership. The group meets regularly to share good practice and coordinate public engagement activities.   

Over the past year across the partnership, ADR UK has undertaken a number of different activities to include the public in our work.  

Public panels  

Public panels provide a platform for members of the public to offer valuable feedback about our projects and ambitions. In November, the Northern Ireland Public Data Panel published a pilot report. Its findings are setting the foundation for the establishment of the first public panel in Northern Ireland, which is already linked into key data and innovation strategies in Belfast City Council and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland.  

In spring 2023, ADR Scotland welcomed Research Data Scotland to co-host its public panel. Working with Research Data Scotland will help to grow and develop the panel, and enhance its wider ambitions and sustainability. It will also offer more opportunities to influence Scotland’s data landscape. During summer 2023, the newly named panel ‘Scotland Talks Data’ recruited its next cohort of members. 

The Consumer Panel for data linkage in Wales provides a public view on the social acceptability of population data research and developments. Over the past year, the panel has been involved in discussions on new administrative data linkages, information accessibility on the updated SAIL (Secure Anonymised Information Linkage) Databank website, training for staff, and an array of research projects.  

Engagement with the third sector

The third sector are both consumers and drivers of administrative data research and, over the last year, engagement with the sector has allowed ADR UK to understand the research needs of specific communities and sectors of society.   

This summer, the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI) deepened its partnership with Voice of Young People in Care, by offering an internship for a care experienced young person with the ADRC NI team. The intern wrote and published a blog and a young person’s version of a paper, developed workshop materials, and advised on making ADRC NI’s communications more accessible and interesting to young people.  

ADR Scotland continues to engage across the third sector with charities such as Marie Curie and the Queen’s Nursing Institute. The third sector brings expertise and community insights which hugely enrich ADR Scotland’s work. The team are also developing new relationships with third sector organisations and professional bodies, including community justice and social work, for emerging datasets.  

Third sector engagement has featured prominently in ADR Wales’ newer projects, including the Administrative Data | Agricultural Research Collection and the EU Settled Status project. Input and guidance from third sector representatives have driven the direction of these projects, with significant representation a staple of the project stakeholder meetings.   

In the last year, ADR England has strengthened engagement with its community representative panels, which are made up of those who work with, or on the behalf of, particular groups of people. The Data First User Representation Panel has continued to facilitate engagement with representatives from organisations working with or for people with experience of the justice system. This year, the panel was consulted about their views on new and emerging datasets using Ministry of Justice data. They have also worked closely with our ADR UK Research Fellows working with crime and justice data, to ensure their research maximises public benefit.   

The ADR England Children & Young People Representative Panel provides opportunities for researchers using children and young people's data for England to engage with third sector and other representatives. Over the last year, they have supported our researchers by offering empirical knowledge relevant to children and young people’s data. They have also been consulted on their views on new and emerging datasets within this theme.   

Working with children and young people 

Just as every person within society has a right to be informed about how and why their data is being used, children are no exception. In June 2023, ADR UK published our approach to engaging with children and young people. The approach includes a commitment to inclusive ways of working including:   

  making our work more accessible    

  • involving children more frequently in research   

  • championing children’s rights and voices in the data landscape   

  • responding to the views and needs of children and young people.  

  The approach was developed following a pilot study undertaken in 2022 by ADR Scotland partner, the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research, on directly engaging with children and young people about their data.  

Public dialogue 

Last year, ADR UK partnered with the Office for Statistics Regulation and commissioned Kohlrabi Consulting to conduct a UK-wide public dialogue to better understand public perceptions of ‘public good’ use of data for research and statistics.     

The dialogue produced five core findings:   

  1. Members of the public want to be involved in making decisions about whether public good is being served.   
  2. Research and statistics should aim to address real-world needs.  
  3. There should be proactive, clear, and accessible public-facing communication about the use of data and statistics.  
  4. Public good means data collected for research and statistics should minimise harm.  
  5. Universal application of best practice safeguarding principles to ensure secure access to data should help people feel confident to disclose data.  

Next year, ADR UK will launch a public dialogue to better understand public perceptions and concerns around synthetic data. This follows public engagement already undertaken by ADR Scotland and ADR England.