The need for public sector agencies to work together to deal with complex issues which overlap agencies spheres of work has been well established. Cases such as the Soham murders in 2002 (BBC News, 2003), the Climbie child abuse case in 2003 (Health Committee, 2003) and the Pilkington Anti-social Behaviour case in 2007 (Telegraph, 2009) each highlighted the need for public sector agencies to work more closely and share information with each other to more effectively serve their public.
A three year period of participant observation in the implementation of a real time information sharing system used by multiple agencies to jointly manage anti-social behaviour was undertaken. An information sharing framework was produced detailing the factors which impact an information sharing project, classified into six categories; External Environment, Organisation, Process, Project, Technology and Individual.
Firstly bureaucracy is not always a barrier to information sharing. At times bureaucracy was found to enable information sharing by providing documentary evidence to decisions made throughout the system implementation. Secondly an agency’s level of buy in and involvement with the information sharing project was shown to be a key indicator of their motivation to share information, correlating with the level of case recording on the system. Thirdly whilst technology enables the process of information sharing the research showed people had a much greater impact on whether information sharing took place. Finally whilst the UK public sector encourages public sector agencies to share information a wide scale review and approach to IT infrastructure would better enable future information sharing projects.
The research identified there are many factors which impact an agency’s ability/motivation to share information. It is the level of motivation an agency has minus the cost of sharing which ultimately determines whether information sharing occurs. In order to further encourage information sharing there is a recommendation that the UK government look at ways to make integrating the disparate data sources easier to decrease the cost of sharing and thus improve the likelihood information sharing will occur.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.