Code of Practice for Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Code

Official statistics are an essential public asset. They provide a window on society, the economy and on the work and performance of government. They are fundamental to the judgments and decisions made by the public, by government and by an enormous range of other organisations.

The Code of Practice for Statistics plays an essential role in ensuring that statistics published by government inspire public confidence through demonstrating trustworthiness, and providing high-quality statistics that enhance public value.

Producers of official statistics are the main users of the Code. The Code provides them with the detailed practices they must commit to when producing and releasing official statistics.

The Code also applies to everyone working in organisations that produce official statistics. By working in line with the Code, they can protect the reputation of their organisation and allow their organisation to publish and communicate statistics in a way that inspires public confidence.

Users of statistics and citizens are the beneficiaries of the Code. When producers of official statistics comply with the Code, it gives users of statistics and citizens confidence that published statistics are of public value, are high quality and are produced by people and organisations that can be trusted.

Because the pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value are universal goals, they are helpful to anyone in organisations producing data, statistics and analysis, whether inside or outside government. We encourage such organisations to voluntarily adopt and apply the pillars of the Code.

The framework is based on three pillars: Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

  • Trustworthiness is about having confidence in the people and organisations that produce statistics and data
  • Quality is about data and methods that produce assured statistics
  • Value is about statistics that support society’s needs for information

What’s changed?

The Code has been updated to reflect the changing environment of statistics and data, and the growing interest in how statistics are used in public discussions.

Government statistics need to be more than just a series of numbers – as statistics they have value when they serve the public good. This requires a shift from thinking of statistics as a statistic output to recognising that they provide a dynamic public service. The new Code is more ambitious about the purpose and value of official statistics.

The new edition of the Code (Code 2.0):

  • places greater emphasis on Trustworthiness, Quality and Value
  • is more explicit about the role of Chief Statisticians and Heads of Profession for statistics and how this fits within the wider context of the organisation’s responsibilities
  • places greater emphasis on innovation and coherence, and emphasises the importance of incorporating new data sources and methods

The summary below provides a more detailed overview of how the Code has changed.

Comparison of Code 2.0 to Code 1.0 (PDF)

The Excel spreadsheet below contains mapping tools that allows you to compare the Code 1.0 Principles and Practices to the Code 2.0 Pillars, Principles and Practices, and vice versa. It also maps the new Code to the European Statistics Code of Practice, the United Nation’s National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF), and to cross-cutting themes and professional groups.

Code 2.0 mapping tools (Excel spreadsheet)

Applying the Code and complying with the Code

The Code provides producers of official statistics with the detailed practices they should commit to when producing and releasing official statistics.

The Code provides a framework – Trustworthiness, Quality, and Value – that can be applied in a proportionate and flexible way to improve public confidence in official statistics. Where there is a question about how to implement a particular practice, the producer should judge what action best supports the delivery of the principles. The Code is a tool to guide behaviour and not a prescriptive list of requirements.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. It reviews compliance with the detailed principles and practices of the Code through:

  • carrying out formal assessments to decide whether or not official statistics should be awarded, or re-awarded, the National Statistics designation
  • carrying out informal checks of compliance or reviews of systemic-wide statistical issues, based on how far producers comply with the Code’s principles and practices
  • investigating specific issues in the dissemination and use of statistics

No. All statistics that were designated as National Statistics against the old Code of Practice for Official Statistics (Code 1.0) by the UK Statistics Authority retain their National Statistics status.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) will continue to assess statistics, and use additional regulatory tools, such as compliance checks, to evaluate compliance with the new Code. But, OSR is not going to begin a mass programme of reassessment against the new Code.

The new Code encourages producers to think about their own compliance, for example, by getting producers to think about whether to continue statistics in the same way, and by getting the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics to think about ongoing compliance.

No. There will be no change in the structure or focus of assessments. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) already uses the Trustworthiness, Quality, and Value framework for its assessments. In fact, all assessment reports published from 2017 onwards were structured around Trustworthiness, Quality and Value. So, in a way, the new Code is catching up with the way OSR carries out its assessments, by better articulating the framework.

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