This case site paper discusses the experience of What Works Scotland, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and the West Dunbartonshire Community Planning Team in developing community profiles for the purposes of place-based working.


The paper describes the initial reflections from the What Works Scotland project: ‘What works in community profiling?’ and provides insights into the operational dynamics of working with data and evidence in the context of community planning.

The key learning points from this paper are:

  • With new legislation in Scotland driving a renewed emphasis on place-based working, both community planning partnerships and health and social care partnerships will need to be able to work more flexibly with data at a range of small area geographies, and in response to different thematic areas of public service reform. A lack of capacity to work in this way could be a barrier to collaboration between services and partnerships and to the potential for turning evidence into action.
  • For some community planning partnerships, community profiling – a process that involves bringing local data together in a concise, accessible, presentation style – will require investment in a new technological infrastructure; in-house training for staff with some level of analytical ability and/or recruitment of staff with specialist analytic skills; and specialist support to develop the capacity of staff to interpret and make sense of local data so that it is more accessible and meaningful to local partners and communities.
  • In the context of the Community Empowerment Act 2015, community profiling could be used to promote greater openness and transparency between service providers and communities, to highlight differences – and often inequalities – and to provoke discussion and responses.

Download the publication

What Works in Community Profiling? Initial reflections from the What Works Scotland project in West Dunbartonshire (PDF)

More details

Author: Claire Bynner and Bruce Whyte, Public Health Programme Manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health

Publication date: March 2016

Type of publication: Case site report

Related resources

Making data meaningful in West Dunbartonshire

Blog about how this What Works Scotland research project is examining how evidence is being used in West Dunbartonshire to make decisions, and how evidence could be made more useful for community planning partners and local communities. What Works Scotland research associate Anna Terje introduces the project and the background to it.

November 2016