Data Ethics Committee

The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit has formed a Data Ethics Committee, ensuring transparency and ethical use of data as it continues to lead the way in harnessing the power of analytics to support a public health approach to tackling serious violence.

The Committee provides an independent expert advisory function, able to consider proposed new uses of data and the way it is analysed and shared, to inform decisions or action.

The role of the Committee is not to make decisions, but recommendations. These recommendations will help the partner organisation that holds the data to make the final decision on its use.

To make its recommendations the Committee will apply a range of ethical considerations including risks, benefits, confidentiality, equality and transparency.

The Committee is chaired by an expert in ethics and research ethics, with support from members of the community and wider expertise from academics specialising in data science, data, ethics, human and computer interaction, clinical psychology and more.

The Committee also provides transparency, by including community representatives and by the publication of new use cases, summaries of meetings, and any recommendations made.

The Committee and its structure is particularly innovative, not only harnessing the power of expert voices and standing community members, but the possibility of accessing the voices of the community in a more developed and direct way.

The Committee works through a three step process, beginning with a broad understanding of the use case, followed by a reflection on what else the Committee needs to think about the ethics at hand, and then a third step involving its recommendation. In contrast to other Committee models, Thames Valley’s structure allows us to go in to our communities and incorporate the views of the public into our Committee’s view using the principles of deliberative democracy.

The Terms of Reference and an Ethical Framework can be found here:

Membership of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit Ethics Committee:

The Committee is run and managed by Dr Tim Lowe, who is the VRU Ethics lead and Visiting Fellow in Police Data Ethics at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford.

One of the advantages of the Committee is its flexible structure. There is a set of core voting members, but also the ability to bring new members with specific areas of expertise, or members of the community, to aid consideration as necessary.

Core voting members include: