March 12, 2021

Ministry of Justice publish new Areas of Research Interest statement

Evidence and Partnerships Hub
Data and Analytical Services Directorate

In December 2020 the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published an updated Areas of Research Interest (ARI) statement. In this guest blog the Evidence and Partnerships Hub in the MoJ Data and Analytical Services Directorate (DASD) explain how they will use the ARI to engage with a wide range of external partners, to address some of the department’s critical evidence needs. The Evidence and Partnerships Hub supports and enhances MoJ’s research capabilities through collaboration with academic experts, research networks and funders, to address strategic evidence priorities.

What is the ARI?

The ARI initiative is a cross-government agenda that encourages departments to systematically outline their strategic evidence priorities. The MoJ published its first ARI statement in 2018, this has now been refreshed to summarise the priorities for the next three-to-five years. The 2020 ARI is structured in line with the department’s strategic objectives for the justice system and cross-cutting themes that link and transcend these objectives.

The ARI aims to encourage research that cuts across different objectives and outcomes, to develop holistic approaches to analysis and policymaking. Some key cross-cutting themes in the ARI are:

  • Equality and diversity
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Intersectionality
  • Space and place
  • Pathways and outcomes
  • Relationships and trust
  • Perceptions

Finally, the ARI sets out how MoJ are keen to engage with researchers working across the spectrum of analytical and research methods, to unlock new insights and to build internal capability.

What are the next steps? How can you get involved?

The Evidence and Partnerships Hub are keen to facilitate collaborations with external partners to fill MoJ evidence gaps. They are instigating a range of activities as part of a targeted engagement programme following the ARI publication, including an academic network, seminars, knowledge echange events, and workshops, as well as supporting the delivery of the pioneering data-linking project Data First.  Data First is unlocking the potential of the wealth of data already generated by MoJ, by linking administrative datasets from across the justice system. Through Data First MoJ are also facilitating researcher access to justice data via the ONS Secure Research Service (SRS). Further information can be found in the Data First guidance.

The Hub are committed to collaborating with external partners to address the priorities outlined in the ARI, including via the Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE) project. They will be reaching out over the next year to discuss the evidence underpinning the ARI and beginning to collaborate on areas of mutual interest. If you are keen to work in collaboration, to answer key ARI questions, the Hub would be very pleased to hear from you.

More information on next steps and Hub activity will be shared over the coming year. In the meantime if you’d like to read more about the ARI it can be found on GOV.UK; or please get in touch with the Hub at

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