The use of data-linkage methods in criminal justice research: a commentary on progress, problems and future possibilities

Author(s)Ferrante, Anna
Title The use of data-linkage methods in criminal justice research: a commentary on progress, problems and future possibilities.
Source Current Issues in Criminal Justice, v.20, no.3, Mar 2009: (378)-392.
Date 2009
Document type Journal article
Coverage Australia
URL http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/cicj20&div=37&g_sent=1& collection=journals
Summary A critical feature of linked datasets is that once assembled they are stripped of name-identifying information so that researchers work only with de-identified data. This article examines the factors impeding the use of data-linkage methods in criminal justice research in Australia, although data-linkage (DL) methods are being increasingly used in health research. There has been some modest uptake of DL methods in Australia such as the development of a linked Re-Offending Database by BOCSAR in NSW in 2001. Legislative and privacy constraints are discussed, together with a comparison between health and justice use of DL. The author concludes that attitudes to, and acceptance of, DL will depend on a number of factors including the quality and robustness of governance, transparency of processes, cost-effectiveness and the value of outcomes flowing from the research. Suggestions for overcoming present barriers for expanding the use of DL in Australia include privacy law reform, more effective engagement with criminal justice agencies, and increased collaborative research.
Keywords Data-linkage; criminal justice research
Topic Research methods