Information about Insight Bristol, the Think Family Database, the Children and Families View and Think Family Education, and other helpful links.

Insight Bristol

Insight Bristol is a data team comprising of Bristol City Council employees. It was set up in 2015 in response to the national Troubled Families Programme (now known as the Supporting Families Programme). It was previously funded by both Avon and Somerset Police, and Bristol City Council.

Insight Bristol uses data from different agencies to support vulnerable families across Bristol. By combining this data, we can work together to better support the city's most vulnerable people.

Since 2015 Insight Bristol has developed some innovative products, including:

  • Think Family Database (TFD)
  • The Children and Families View (app)
  • The Think Family Education application (app)
  • Think Family Notifications

These products transform the way data can support safeguarding professionals and are recognised nationally.

Think Family Database (TFD)

The Think Family Database (TFD) supports and connects safeguarding professionals from Bristol City Council and other public sector organisations.

The data collected by Insight Bristol is securely held in the TFD, and includes information from approximately 55,000 families across Bristol. It includes data such as Bristol address, GP registrations, education history, crime data, financial data (out of work benefits), social care data, and access to support (e.g., homelessness support or substance misuse).

The TFD pulls together data from several public sector sources including:

  • Bristol City Council (Children Social care, Early Help, Education, Early Years, Children Centres, Housing, Youth Justice System)
  • Avon and Somerset Police
  • Department for Education
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit (SCWCSU)
  • Sirona Health and Care
  • Barnardo's
  • NHS

The data from these organisations displays vulnerabilities or needs. It gives practitioners accessing the system and working with families an understanding of:

  • immediate family
  • the family's immediate need
  • previous service involvement
  • which services the need comes from

The practitioner can contact the relevant service. This helps the practitioner better support the family because:

  • they can discuss the family's immediate issues with the agencies involved
  • the family does not have to repeat the same story

This embedded approach helps practitioners coordinate support for families who are most in need.

Using targeted analytics, the system uses modelling to help identify children who are at risk of becoming ‘not in education, employment, or training after finishing school' (NEET), using school attendance, attainment and vulnerability data to identify this risk. This information supplements the wider council Think Family approach and supports the council's post 16 team.

This model does not replace professional judgement or decision-making. It guides and supplements the work of professionals and provides information about children at risk that professionals may not easily see. This early identification means that support and interventions can be put in place to stop problems turning into crises.

Children and Families View (CFV)

The Children and Families View (CFV) is a web-based Power BI report used by safeguarding professionals in Bristol City Council. It displays information from the Think Family Database, using new software and improved security.

The safeguarding professionals using the report include social workers, youth justice workers, FIF workers, personal advisors, family support workers, IROs, HOPE Virtual School advisors, education welfare officers, SEND workers, SET workers, and first response advisors. The report is designed to make information retrieval quicker for these safeguarding professionals.

Think Family Education (TFE)

Insight Bristol has developed the Think Family Education (TFE) application (app). It helps designated safeguarding leads and pastoral teams in education settings by providing accurate and timely data relating to their pupil wellbeing, safeguarding, and vulnerability, including information about any social care involvement.

The data is provided by Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police and other partners.

The TFE shares data with these education settings showing items such as numbers of pupils:

  • receiving support, for example: free school meals, care, having a child protection plan
  • falling into various risk factors, for example: persistently absent, at risk of ‘NEET' or being a young carer
  • having experienced events, for example: missing person incidents, crime incidents, suspensions

This enables the education setting to understand vulnerability for their own pupils, and put interventions in place that will help those pupils to be successful. Education settings can also search for their own admission data.

TFE was piloted at 4 schools in Bristol and developed with input from:

  • safeguarding staff
  • education inclusion managers
  • safeguarding education teams
  • information governance consultants
  • school consultations

Approximately 130 schools in Bristol will have access to the TFE app. ARC West researchers have helped Insight Bristol evaluate the impact of the TFE in education settings. The feedback so far from education settings about the TFE has been overwhelmingly positive.

Think Family Notifications

Insight Bristol also sends automated notification emails to lead professional staff at Bristol City Council who work with families with children.

These notifications will promptly alert lead professional staff of events that are occurring within the families they are working with, so the staff can be aware of these vulnerabilities. These events may include incidents such as crime events, anti-social behaviour, missing person events, domestic abuse, etc.

Information governance and ethics

We have robust privacy and sharing agreements with all partners and related agencies.

The ICO has reviewed the documentation and confirmed our compliance with the relevant data legislation.

Sharing data requires robust information governance. See the Insight Bristol privacy notice.

Insight Bristol has a risk log to make sure risks are mitigated and that we follow all relevant data protection laws, including the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

Insight Bristol Data Flow, Indicator List and Legal Gateways shows:

  • how the data flows through the Think Family Database and the Think Family Education
  • what the information is (the indicator list)
  • the legal gateways that allow us to share this information


Insight Bristol is working with the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) to:

  • support the National Data Strategy
  • provide transparency
  • provide clear information to the public and interested stakeholders about the algorithmic tools it uses, such as the targeted analytic models

Insight Bristol has completed an Algorithmic Transparency Standard and you can see this on Github.

We've consulted the Bristol City Youth Council to get their views on how Bristol City Council and our partners should share information. The Bristol City Youth Council is an elected group of young people, aged 11 to 18. See pdf Insight Bristol Ethics Youth Council report (250 KB) .

Contact information

Head of Insight, Performance and Intelligence

Bristol City Council