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The Essex Data Ethics Committee (DEC) met for the first time in January to begin drafting a data charter that will promote transparency and accountability and communicate its commitment to Essex residents to support the ethical use of data to deliver services that improve people’s lives.

The DEC, an independent committee, provides advice on the ethical considerations of data use and supports the Essex Centre for Data Analytics (ecda), and its partners, to deliver work in a way that provides clear benefits and safeguards the people of Essex.

ecda, a partnership between Essex Police, Essex County Council and the University of Essex, brings together data from public sector organisations to generate new insight on some of the county’s most challenging issues and enables organisations to make evidence-based decisions that prevent harm, keep people safe, and provide the best opportunities and services for the county, its residents and business community. 

A robust ethical framework has guided ecda’s work from inception, ensuring that appropriate ethical consideration of the access, use and sharing of data for statistical purposes is at the heart of our thinking and supports our work to serve the public good. The addition of the DEC provides further capacity, independent review of ecda’s governance procedures, and seeks to identify any ethical elements arising from data use to share learning and provide public assurance.

The Essex Data Ethics Committee will meet again in March 2021 to consider newly proposed data science projects and provide independent advice to ecda’s Sponsors Board. The DEC’s recommendations will be considered by ecda’s Sponsors Board as part of its project governance process.

Members of the Essex Data Ethics Committee are appointed for three years and together their skills, knowledge and experience in data science, human rights, government policy, and information governance enables them to provide ecda with advice and recommendations on any ethical considerations or issues arising in each of ecda’s data projects.

We’ll be introducing the members of the Data Ethics Committee next month, together with details from their first formal meeting. Committee members are currently working on a draft data charter to share with Essex citizens.

Essex residents are also welcome to participate in the DEC and to share their views on the work being carried out. For more information and to register interest please contact