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Guest post: Prison register goes into alpha

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Data, Our services, Registers

Since November, Richard Carling from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has been working with the Government Digital Service’s registers team to create a prison register.

The prison register is an  authoritative source of information about the prison estate in England and Wales. It’s part of the ‘national data infrastructure of registers’ the government committed to building in the Government Transformation Strategy.

Screenshot of the registers status page on GOV.UK

Alpha registers are all about the feedback

The prison register has progressed to its alpha phase. As is standard practice, at this stage of the register creation process we’re asking for feedback on the scope and shape of the register. We’re really keen to hear from anyone who’s interested in using this data in their  products, services or processes. If after reading this blog post or checking out the register you have questions or thoughts, please do comment below or send us an email.

Trustworthiness of the data in registers is essential so registers go through a robust creation process. The prison register has gone through a discovery phase to define the scope and shape of the register.

Here’s an overview of the fields we’ve included in the alpha register:

  • Prison: the unique identifier for a particular prison
  • Name: the name of the prison
  • Operator: the Company House number of the company or service provider who have been commissioned to run the prison
  • Address: the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) of the prison
  • Change-date: the date a field in the register was last changed e.g if a prison name or designation changes
  • Start-date: the date the prison started operating (where known or relevant)
  • End-date: the date the prison stopped operating (if applicable)

Getting to beta

We aim to progress the prison register  to beta by the end of March. Once it’s in beta, product and service teams across government will be able to use it as the single-most accurate and up-to-date source of government data on prisons.

The ‘Find a prison’ service team is already looking to use the prison register in the prototype they’re creating for their new, revamped service. But before they, and others can do that, the custodian will need to work with the GDS registers team to respond to all feedback received and, where appropriate, incorporate any necessary changes into the register.

So, we really do want you to get in touch with any feedback on the accuracy, clarity and structure of the information contained in the register or any thoughts you have on the registers platform as a whole.

Why MoJ are working on registers

Government is responsible for maintaining a lot of information that helps keep the country running - everything from a list of all local authorities to which animal diseases you need to notify the government of, should you notice relevant symptoms in your livestock.

Departments and agencies also need high quality data in order to provide services to citizens and businesses as well as to support their internal core business processes. For example, like many other government services, the GOV.UK Pay component uses the country register as the source data to allow people to select where their banking provider is based.

Given that so much government data is used and reused by multiple government services, it makes sense for them to draw this data from a single source. That’s why part of the register creation process is finding and analysing duplicate lists of the same data that are maintained by different people.

By understanding how they’re being used and whether there are any discrepancies between them, it’s easier to see where existing or new registers are needed.  Another benefit of this approach is that it makes maintaining the accuracy and freshness of commonly used data, a lot easier.

These are just some of the reasons we’re really pleased to be releasing this alpha register and to get your feedback, so please let us know what you think.

Richard Vale is a Delivery Manager on the Register Design Authority at the Government Digital Service


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