Research conducted by the University of New South Wales in Australia demonstrates the potential benefits of focused data mining to investigate and prevent future incidents of abuse, reports The Conversation. The study of almost half a million police reports of domestic violence in Australia revealed a hidden picture of mental health issues in perpetrators and victims. In more than three-quarters (76 percent) of the events studied, mental illness was mentioned for the perpetrator only, 17 percent for the victim only, and 7 percent for both victim and perpetrator. Overall, mood affective disorders, which include depression or bipolar disorder, were the most common in both victims and perpetrators. Researchers believe this kind of data could dispel myths about domestic violence and mental health, and raise awareness about certain groups’ vulnerability, such as people with autism spectrum disorders, carers, and people in specific settings like nursing homes.
This study raises the issue of how “big data” is shared between the police and mental health services, but argues the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms, especially as analyses like this can potentially increase community safety, lead to better outcomes for people with mental illnesses, and inform interactions with police.