Liverpool City Council


Liverpool is one of the UK’s ten Core Cities. It has an immediate population of over 495,000, rising to over 1.5 million across the wider city region. The region is home to over 37,600 businesses and has a high entrepreneurial start-up rate.

Troubled Families programme and Liverpool City Council

As part of the UK government’s Supporting Families programme (previously called Troubled Families), Liverpool was one of the pilot group of authorities awarded a special ‘Earned Autonomy’ status (April 2018).

This special status enabled the council to accelerate the transformation programme they had embarked on to bring about more effective and integrated services to the people of the city. To enable the required transformation of services, Liverpool needed to appoint a new Data Partner to help them become data driven, more targeted and more proactive.  

Liverpool began by reviewing the work being done by a number of their peer Core City authorities across the country at the time. Following further investigation into the work being done at Birmingham City Council they approached Sentinel Partners. After a short evaluation and review period, Sentinel were commissioned to provide their Integrated Data Platform software, which was quickly configured to fit with all the data feeds available at that time.

Their new Data Integration Platform was commissioned at the end of August 2018 and implemented by mid-November 2018.  

“Liverpool City Council and Sentinel Partners have developed an excellent working relationship over the past seven years. Before using the platform, Liverpool was struggling to link vast amounts of data for the Supporting Families Programme and were at risk of the programme not achieving its targets. The developments with Sentinel to improve data linkage for identifying complex families, partner work with families and tracking outcomes have seen Liverpool achieve and exceed annual targets set by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Education each year.”

John Bowers
Supporting Families Programme, Family Hub, and SAFE Taskforce Data and Information Manager
Liverpool City Council

As a result of their incredibly successful data integration journey, they are often cited as an exemplar authority by government departments such as the DfE and the Dept for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC, formally MHCLG) for their advanced uses for Data in providing more targeted and affective services.  See the related government blog at:  

Liverpool are often called upon to run or support Government online seminars and workshop sessions to help share best practice with other authorities across the country. They have also taken part in national conferences to share their experiences with the wider UK Public Sector, such as the National Data-4-Good conference presented by UK Authority:  

Both the city and the council of Liverpool are recognised for their innovative, creative, and forward-thinking culture, and we are proud to be their Data Integration partner. 

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Troubled Families Phase 2

 As part of Troubled Families phase 2 the initial iteration of the platform collected and integrated data from 35 core data feeds into a fully matched and profiled, unified data set of residents and families across the city.  Immediately upon implementation, the new Data Integration Platform was able to identify how many families lived in the city and how many of those families needed immediate support, providing a new target cohort that was 193% larger than was previously known. 
The Platform also identified how many families should be the focus of Early Help, providing a new target cohort that was 130% larger than was previously known. A specific dashboard for Early Help was implemented, identifying over 4000 families in need of early intervention. 
This initial iteration of the Data Integration Platform was the enabler for real data driven transformation. The Supporting Families and Early Help teams could immediately target their efforts more effectively based on a single, most trusted, version of the truth.  

Supporting Families Phase 3

Liverpool adopted our Supporting Families solution in preparation for the requirements of Phase 3 of the national Supporting Families programme, administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). 
Specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Supporting Families Programme Phase 3, the solution provides automated data integration and management to help identify and support vulnerable families.   
Data is matched and integrated from all available sources to provide up-to-date, accurate, and complete records of individuals and family units. Data sharing features of the platform facilitate collaborative and proactive working. This helps teams deliver the interventions that families need.  


Phase 3 of the Supporting Families programme has two key objectives: 

  • To see vulnerable families thrive, building their resilience by providing effective, whole family support to help prevent escalation into statutory services
  • To drive system change locally and nationally, working with local authorities and their partners to create joined up local services, able to identify families in need, provide the right support at the right time, and track their outcomes in the long term.

The Supporting Families solution is a powerful, flexible, forward-looking technology that meets these needs. Features include:  

  • Family-overview and drill-down screens that show you the full picture  
  • Chronological views of families displaying improvements or setbacks history 
  • Single point of access for improved data sharing and collaborative working  
  • Flexible user control of rules for validating and merging people’s data  
  • Automatic data profiling to identify families eligible for the programme and families who can be claimed for successful turnaround  
  • Maximised outcomes claims bringing increased income  
  • Automatically prepared Government returns, evidenced by a full audit trail of events and outcomes 

Supporting Families Programme Solution

Automated integration and management of data for Supporting Families Phase 3

Supporting Families Phase 3 Solution


SAFE Taskforce and Vulnerable Pupil Portals

The Department for Education (DfE) has allocated £3.7million of funding over a 3-year period for the SAFE (Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed) Taskforce to invest in and commission school focused interventions to reduce involvement in serious violence and improve attendance at schools across Liverpool. It will also help with behavior in school and within the community and improve social and emotional regulation and wellbeing. The SAFE Taskforce is a group of mainstream secondary schools working together with other multi-agency structures and local experts to support young people at risk of serious violence and re-engage them in their education. The initiative is led by schools and bringing headteachers together to support vulnerable young people and prevent involvement in gangs, county lines, and criminal activity. Attendance, reduced exclusions, and keeping pupils focused on education were key aims. The SAFE Taskforce and providing violence reduction learning in schools are some of the ways Liverpool are supporting young people in education settings across the region. 


For Liverpool we provided a Vulnerable Pupil Portal (VPP). This solution was based on the Sentinel Data Platform and designed specifically to meet the requirements on this initiative and support and empower SAFE taskforces in protecting children from becoming involved in crime, county lines, and gang exploitation.  
The Vulnerable Pupil Portal integrated data from multiple sources, systems and agencies to provide a complete picture of how best to ensure the appropriate level and mix of alternative provision and specialist support is delivered. Including teams from schools, police and NHS, Liverpool has portals for council, school, and police as well as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). 

Features included:  

  • Dashboards specifically designed in collaboration with several local authorities displaying information and criteria needed to identify children at risk of being vulnerable 
  • Pupil advanced search functionality and drill downs into single view of pupil.   
  • Centralized notes enabling the sharing of information across settings and agencies. Crucial for handovers such as, change of schools and case workers.  
  • Automated user alerts, including behavioral, attendance, and Police intelligence. E.g., police related incidents can alert certain users and provide contact information for further information.  
  • Local Authority Vulnerable Pupil Portals included provision to produce evaluation reports and submissions to DfE.  
  • Police Portals with specifically configured dashboards, functionalities, and access remits.   
  • Child overviews containing all information concerning a child collated in one easy to view screen. Specific child with actions dashboard function including Safeguarding data, Attendance/Exclusions data, SEND data, Exploitation Risk, Youth Offending Team data feeds, Police data, Social Care plan, Alternative Provision mentor notes, and full workflow and chronology.  
  • Additional information containing ‘soft intelligence’ such as Police cautions, behavioral and teacher notes.  
  • Workflow and Chronology. Displaying a full list of past and upcoming actions and events including tracking of attendance and case worker actions as well as changes reflecting increased or decreased risk, progress or regression. 

See more detail our Vulnerable Pupil Portal solution for SAFE taskforces and Alternative Provision (AP) settings  


Vulnerable Pupil Portal

Integrate from multiple sources, agencies and systems to provide a complete picture of vulnerable pupils to drive alternative support provision.

Vulnerable Pupil Portal

Gangs Module 

The Sentinel Data Platform was quickly extended and enhanced in under 3 months to include a Gangs module to identify gang members and those connected to gang members who were more vulnerable to recruitment. The first wave of integration with Health care data started in June 2019 to enhance the capabilities of their Supporting Family services, and a new module was also added in Sept 2019 to search and analyze SEND children to better support children in need. 

Our industry leading matching technology underpins the quality and effectiveness in identifying gang members and known associations. Data across multiple streams (health, education, police, social work, and more) are analysed and matched, meaning associations or memberships can be highlighted regardless of aliases used, address changes and differences, name variations, and more. 


Research Project: Identifying future vulnerability of Domestic Abuse

A Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that an estimated 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the twelve months to March 2020 (1.6 million women and 757,000 men). During the coronavirus pandemic there was a 7% increase in police recorded offences flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June 2020. In Liverpool, the number of domestic abuse cases has risen by 9% when comparing April to December 2020 to the previous year. There has been a 10% growth in the number of child protection plans which cite emotional abuse as a core referral reason since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Working with Liverpool City Council's Children's Social Services and associated Data Teams, we planned a research project based upon the huge, unified dataset we created for them in their Sentinel Data Platform. The objective of the project was to apply the latest Microsoft AI Machine Learning technologies to gain an understanding and risk measure of the degree of vulnerability for a person becoming a future Domestic Abuse (DA) victim or perpetrator.  

We had already been brought in to help Liverpool manage the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating an index of vulnerable residents based on 45 data feeds. Information on domestic abuse arrests, interventions and callouts is regularly captured from Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council, which is used to identify complex families as one of the six pillars of the Troubled/Supporting Families Programme. Domestic violence is a presenting factor in 25% of identified Troubled Families. Children living in a home where domestic abuse occurs can have a significant impact on a young person's mental health, physical wellbeing and behavior which can last into adulthood. 

Liverpool's Data Platform was already receiving and integrating data from 72 data sources, including all core council systems, and all strategic partner agencies they work with to support children and young families. The Platform provided a Single View of all people across the city, and this information could be rolled up into family compositions to show a Single View of each family.  
With Liverpool’s Corporate Intelligence Team we conducted a unique project to identify contributory factors and understand why persons become domestic abuse perpetrators based on historic and current data held within the Liverpool Families Programme data system. The key objectives were to:  

  • Identify trigger reasons for an individual becoming a perpetrator of domestic abuse using scholarly literature and the judgement of professionals. These could include identifying historic household abuse (identifying if this was prevalent when a current perpetrator was a child), adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s), previous neglect, school performance, substance misuse and mental health amongst others. 
  • Score the trigger reasons and overlay these over cohorts of individuals to understand if there are standout environmental or learnt behaviours that are prevalent in domestic abuse perpetrators. 
  • Develop data timelines. We worked with Liverpool’s Corporate Intelligence (LCIT) Team to develop a new test system with multiple dashboard screens to identify trend data and model this using test scores. LCIT anticipated that there could be as many as 6 or 7 models created as part of the pilot to identify individuals who may have indicators or patterns in the data that suggest they could be vulnerable to becoming domestic abuse perpetrators. 
  • Envisage that the modelled data and risk factors gathered during the pilot will form part of Early Help assessments to ensure that families—which are displaying typical environmental behaviours which could lead to future violence—are addressed by professional services. 
  • Use data from the pilot strategically as part of the Demand Management process to identify ‘hotspot’ areas of potential future domestic abuse offenders in the city. Based upon this understanding, larger scale interventions could be implemented (e.g., in a school setting to educate young people on the risks associated with domestic abuse).  
  • Learn from the pilot study to develop further risk management tools for families in the Sentinel system to better understand risk-based problems in other aspects of complex families (e.g., child exploitation). 

The data was analysed to show all current and historic issues, needs, and dependencies. The analyses from this exercise could then be used to target Family Support Services and Early Help. For the key source system, historic data was also incorporated into the Platform, providing approximately 10-12 years history of incidents, events, and outcomes.  
It is in this scenario where the Data Platform excels. Analyses, insights, modelling and predictions are only as good as the data. In terms of AI Machine Learning technologies, the broader, richer and deeper the information fed in, the better and more accurate the analyses. The Data Platform allowed Liverpool to pool vast amounts of complex and valuable information so that Machine Learning processes can effectively identify those at risk of becoming a future Domestic Abuse (DA) victim or perpetrator. 
From December 2021 to May 2022, we worked with the Liverpool teams to agree a baseline set of background issues and trigger points that current DA victims and perpetrators have in common, listed by degrees of commonality. We then used this baseline to apply Machine Learning modelling and build up confidence models of how much weighting the different baseline factors had, and where other previously un-recognised background factors also had notably high frequencies. This modelling was then applied so a subset of the wider population to show how young people with a higher potentially vulnerability could be identified.  

The objective was to show how Liverpool's unified data asset could be used to drive an early intervention strategy and support vulnerable people before they reach a point of crisis. We produced a Empowering MDM With Efficient Data Matching in the Cloud White Paper with the Liverpool teams that would be used as the basis for a business case across the council and key partners to obtain funding for a full implementation of this technology to drive proactive support services. The White Paper showed evidence of the research results, including an analysis of confidence ratings for all factors considered, and described how this approach and technology can be applied to many other scenarios such as future vulnerability of being a Looked After Child. 

Covid-19 Rapid Response 

As the COVID pandemic first hit the UK, Liverpool wanted to be one of the first authorities to put a fully inclusive tactical response in place. Sentinel worked closely with the Liverpool team to integrate 13 new NHS data feeds and provide a fully profiled Single View of vulnerable individuals to Public Health England, identifying and showing who should be shielding and needs to be supported with home services. This new tactical response was commissioned, configured, and implemented within two weeks, and was live by early April 2020.  
Following the Tactical Response, our Data Integration Platform was used to support the UKs first mass test-and-trace programme which took place across the Liverpool region in November 2020. The platform was able to provide an immediate family contact list for anyone testing positive.  
As the vaccine rollout began, the Data Integration Platform was used again to help understand levels of vaccine take-up across the city and was able to target mobile vaccination clinics to the most needed areas.   

Frame 1work from homr

“Liverpool have worked with Sentinel to deliver cutting edge intelligence driven portals for front line professionals to use to support vulnerable children as part of the DfE funded SAFE Taskforce project which has attracted attention nationally for innovation. We worked with Sentinel to deliver a vulnerability tracking system during the pandemic in order to deliver support to residents in need of medical support, financial support and safeguarding. Liverpool City Council later used this system as part of the National Track and Trace pilot the government trialled in the city. Liverpool is looking forward to working with Sentinel on future developments such as an Early Years Intelligence portal, Family Hubs dashboards and vulnerability tracking to improve the outcomes of families in the city”.

John Bowers
Supporting Families Programme, Family Hub, and SAFE Taskforce Data and Information Manager
Liverpool City Council

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Data Masking for Liverpool Council

Liverpool was the first council to implement a fully integrated solution as part of the Department for Education (DfE) SAFE Taskforce Programme —our Vulnerable Pupil Portal—to meet the needs and goals of the national programme and support their working priorities. Liverpool’s SAFE Taskforce is a set of secondary schools working in unison with partners, multi-agency structures, and local experts to support young people at risk of serious violence and re-engage them in education. 
Liverpool found great success in this initiative and were asked by the DfE to present a demonstration of the Portal and convey its advantages and the benefits it brings. The demonstration would be recorded and potentially used as a reference resource for other local authorities across the country. This is one of many instances of Liverpool being regarded as one of the most innovative and digitally mature councils in the UK, spearheading better and more effective working through data maturity.  

Before the solution could be demoed to an audience beyond Liverpool’s authenticated set of users the personal and personal sensitive information had to be protected. The demo system must not contain real information about pupils or their families. However, manufactured or 'dummy' data was not suitable either as this would make the system unrealistic and of less value to the specialist audience it was intended for. Dummy records rarely support the full functionality of a solution, nor do they reflect the rich and varied scenarios that a real system must support. Typically, the level of complexity of dummy records is low and creating sufficiently complex dummy records to support the demonstration of a solution’s full range of functionalities is a massive task beyond the remit a demo preparation. 

Data Masking is the answer to this dilemma. Data Masking involves shuffling and swapping live data at a field-by-field level, to beyond the point of risk or sensitivity. Surnames, forenames, middle names, titles, dates of birth, address lines, and more, are shuffled and swapped to the point of perfect anonymity. Other fields, such as contact details, are defaulted to ensure that no demonstration activities could send a text or email to a real contact. Not only does this maintain a demo system with a volume of data almost identical to the live system, but it also ensures solution functionalities can be operated and demoed safely and in the same manner as the live system. It is for this reason our Data Masking service is so valuable for UAT and any other system testing phases: data can be masked but the complete functionality of the system maintained for testing. In any UAT or testing phases where offshore resources are employed for systems that contain personal data, this is a compliance necessity. 
For Liverpool’s SAFE Taskforce Vulnerable Pupil Portal data masking we used a blended approach of Regex and Shuffle. We masked the entire dataset within hours—over 200k records—and within 1 hour provided a dedicated, distanced, and separate environment with the masked data. This allowed Liverpool to demo the full range of the Vulnerable Pupil Portal’s functionalities, showing records with rich chronological histories, case management features, audit trails, triggered events, analysis, and more: performing exactly as the live system would but without displaying any personal or sensitive information.       

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Sentinel Data Masking For UAT

Fast and flexible masking of large amounts of personal and sensitive data for User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Data Masking

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