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Authors: Katie Smith and Sarah Davidge

COVID-19 quickly changed the context of domestic abuse in England. Within weeks of the first COVID-19 related death, the country was in lockdown. A quick response was essential for understanding the needs of survivors. With limited time to establish new data collection mechanisms, the role of administrative data was central in shaping the response by the Women’s Aid Federation of England. This article explores the opportunities and challenges of using administrative data to understand and respond to the impact of COVID-19 on survivors of domestic abuse in England, using analysis by Women’s Aid of administrative data as a case study. The article discusses the challenges, such as the complexity of analysing a longitudinal administrative dataset, and the need for increased skills and capacity within the NGO research environment. We also reflect on ethical considerations in light of the context of frontline workers responding to the pandemic, the opportunities for collaboration with other sector partners and academics and the benefits of being able to undertake reactive analysis to inform policy. The article concludes that our access to administrative data bolstered our ability to respond expediently to the pandemic, and achieve the long-term benefits of the partnerships that we built during this time.

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