September 12, 2022

March 13, 2023

Better Outcomes through Linked Data (BOLD)

Connecting cross-government data to deliver better outcomes for people with complex needs

Digital, Data & Technology


Government is responsible for supporting people with multiple complex needs such as those who are homeless, have a history of offending and who use drugs and alcohol. Often this support is difficult because information about the challenges those individuals face is held across different government departments and administrations and not frequently shared.

For instance:

  • 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
  • 36% of crime 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 2014
  • 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.
  • Reoffending costs society approximately £18 billion a year and that an ex-offender’s likelihood of reoffending is significantly decreased if they have a home, a job and access to healthcare.


Working collaboratively with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), we worked in a consortium to establish evidence for how people with complex needs can be better supported by linking together government information held about them in a safe and secure way.  We interviewed over 200+ stakeholders across nine government departments to establish use cases within four key analytical pilot areas: reducing homelessness, supporting victims of crime, reducing substance misuse and reducing reoffending.


Our work enabled BOLD to move beyond its strategy phase, into live delivery: today linking live datasets to support frontline services to understand its users better. Our collaborative design approach enabled the complex programme to mobilise the ideas and buy-in of frontline personnel to ensure the BOLD programme prioritised the right outcomes and mitigated risk.

Today, BOLD uses pseudonymised 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 data linking can improve the support provided for those with complex needs.  


Photo by the author

Mahlet Yared

Head of Data Services

Photo by the author

Cameron Scott

Former Team Member

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