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The Wales Safeguarding Repository

19 November 2019

A multi-disciplinary project seeking to build a novel document repository for housing safeguarding reviews and reports has begun to produce results able to assist practitioners.

Led by the CSRI, The Wales Safeguarding Repository (WSR) project is an ongoing research venture undertaken in conjunction with the National Independent Safeguarding Board (NISB) and Welsh Government. It seeks to enhance the future safeguarding practice of professionals such as police officers, social workers and those working in health and social care through creating a framework and digital repository to allow for better learning to emerge from death reviews via state-of-the-art text mining and machine learning techniques.

Researchers in the Institute have completed the initial development phase through the creation of a prototype repository capable of housing multiple types of safeguarding reviews and reports. The framework was focused on 29 Domestic Homicide Reports (DHRs) sourced from both Wales and England.

Although ongoing, the research has already found that a higher quality of report can be achieved through maintaining a select pool of experienced authors as well maintaining the consistent anonymity of the report’s subjects. Family involvement has also been found to be an important factor in the creation of an expedient report. Researchers noted that their involvement produced more consistent analysis around agency contact and performance. This is especially significant where protected characteristics or language barriers preventing access to services are a theme within a report.

Further insights are hoped to be encouraged by the recent incorporation of 29 Mental Health Homicide Reviews (MHHRs) into the coding framework. The introduction of different reports is being used to test the framework’s robustness as well as provide a greater volume of data to assist in the early development of machine learning techniques.

The project demonstrates the inter-disciplinary nature of the CSRI, with the coding of the reports being undertaken manually by an undergraduate Politics student, which in turn is assisting the development of machine-driven automatic coding developed by a computer science PhD student. Together, the researchers have developed the framework inside of five high level concepts that support the application of machine learning in identifying themes present within both DHRs and MHHRs.

The WSR project has so far been funded at different stages by the Welsh Government via the NISB, Cardiff University’s School of Social Science and the CSRI.

The WSR project aims to secure further funding that will allow for continued development of the coding framework. This involves expanding the framework to encompass concepts pertaining to Adult Practice and Child Practice reviews, integrating the coding framework into the repository software, and further exploration into the automatic application of the coding framework through state-of-the-art text mining and machine learning techniques.

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