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Minutes of the July DEC meeting

Notes of the Data Ethics Committee (DEC) meeting 20th July 2021 via Teams



Nicki Mallet (Head of Profession Data & Analytics, Essex County Council)

Andrew Graham (Integration & Partnerships Locality Lead, Essex County Council)

Duncan Taylor (Capability Lead, ecda)

ecda members

David Caplan (Head of ecda

Jennifer Housego (Essex Police and DEC secretariat)

DEC members

Martine Clark (Chair)

Sally Messenger

Yani Tyskerud

Alexander Babuta

Andrew Knott

Martyn Knappett

Helen Hitching


Andrew Pentney

Karthick Durgaparsad

Teresa Ashforth


20 July 2021 16:00 – 18:00

MS Teams 


Welcome and introductions




Note of the last meeting

Chair/Jen Housego


The North East Essex Vulnerabilities Project

Nicki Mallett (Essex County Council)


DEC data charter

Martine Clark, DEC Chair


Any other business

·       Member meeting with ecda


David Caplan (ecda)


NEE Vulnerabilities project

Nicki Mallet (NM), Head of Data and Analysis from Essex County Council (ECC) presented details of the proposed research project, “Identifying Vulnerabilities across North East Essex”.

Following extensive discussion, the Data Ethics Committee agreed that this research project is clearly acting in the public interest, and that they are broadly supportive of the exploratory stage analysis outlined. They specifically advised that they were content with the project moving to the next phase of loading and linking the data.

While broadly comfortable with this research project, the committee sought clarification about the project's overall objectives and the potential interventions that could result from the analysis. Would the outcomes provide broad insight used to inform service design, resource allocation and other neighbourhood planning; or will they be used operationally to identify vulnerable individuals for targeted interventions? In discussion, Nicki Mallett helpfully clarified that at this stage it is the former and the DEC was happy with the explanation. The committee would like to highlight the importance of external communications with residents and agencies at this stage providing this clarity, and setting appropriate expectations.

The committee also agreed that if analysis shows that the modelling used could provide sufficiently accurate insight for more operational, predictive modelling, then they would support exploring this further. While protecting data and privacy rights is essential, if highly vulnerable individuals can be identified by combining and analysing the data in this project, there would be an ethical imperative to use that insight to prevent harm. Further information governance and ethical consideration would be needed if the project changed to identifying individuals.

The committee recommends the project team tackles the detailed observations and concerns listed below. They would welcome the project updating them on progress.

Update on project discussed at March 2021 meeting, “Identifying and Supporting Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse”

David Caplan updated that the data had now been loaded. Exploratory data analysis has been carried out and produced some interesting initial results. These are now working through the internal methods governance process. As part of the process will be producing a technical and non-technical write-up, a version of which will be shared with this group.

Data Charter

A subgroup of the DEC has drafted a Data Charter. The intent is for members of ecda and the DEC to agree with principles outlined, and it will then be published. Key ecda staff and DEC agreed to provide written feedback to Martine Clark ( by close of play on Friday 30th July.


One prospective member of the DEC is currently going through the vetting process. A further three have expressed an interest and will start the recruitment process.

David Caplan agreed that for future meetings, agenda items will include the purpose of the item.

DEC agreed that a summary of the minutes of the committee meetings should be published on the ecda website. They agreed to amend the terms of reference to say that they will be published within three weeks, rather than two.

DEC agreed to provide feedback on the DEC so far to ecda: Martine Clark will coordinate.