Code of Practice for Statistics


Ad hoc official statistics – Statistical analyses produced and released where there is a pressing need for official statistics in the public interest.

Approved Researcher – Statistical analysts that have undergone an accreditation process to obtain managed access to statistical data that cannot be published openly.

Chief Statistician – The accountable officer in the official statistics producer organisation that is given executive responsibility for decision making on statistical matters. In some organisations this officer will also be the Head of Profession for Statistics; in others the Chief Statistician will delegate responsibility for professional matters to the Head of Profession for Statistics.

Chief Statisticians for the Devolved Administrations – The principal advisers on official statistics in their respective Administrations, with overall responsibility for the implementation and coordination of professional statistical standards and for ensuring adherence with the Code.

  • In Northern Ireland the Chief Statistician is the Registrar General and Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
  • The Chief Statistician in the Scottish Government works in consultation with the Registrar General for Scotland and the Head of Profession for Health and Care Statistics.
  • The Chief Statistician in the Welsh Government is responsible for professional statistical standards in Wales.

Common data standards, classifications and protocols – Agreed definitions, procedures and ways of working with statistics and data that facilitate their consistency, comparability, coherence and reuse.

Data – Characteristics of facts or information, usually numerical, such as, observations, opinions, events or transactions, from which conclusions may be drawn. They are the product of collecting information (source data). They can also be the subject of statistical processing (processed data).

Data services – Internet-based tools and resources that enable access to a variety of curated data and statistics. The statistics and data made available through data services are often complied using common data standards, and supported by metadata and other guidance material.

Data subject – Person whose personal data is being collected, processed and stored. Under relevant legislation data subjects do not include the deceased or those who cannot be identified or distinguished from others.

Director General for Regulation – Leads the Office for Statistics Regulation and has a statutory role as the Authority’s Head of Assessment, and principal adviser on the assessment and reassessment of official statistics and their compliance with the Code of Practice. The Director General for Regulation is a member of the Board of the UK Statistics Authority, reports directly to the Chair of the Authority, and operates independently from the National Statistician and all statistical producers.

Eligible recipients – Persons within government granted pre-release access to statistical releases in their final form ahead of their publication in line with Pre-Release Access to Official Statistics legislation.

Ethical – In accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially in terms of the standards of a profession.

Ethics standards – Best practice frameworks that address the ethical impact and implications of research and data science. They apply in areas which include, but are not limited to: privacy, anonymity, transparency, trust, responsibility, data collection, curation, analysis and use.

Experimental statistics – A subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation. Experimental statistics are developed under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics and are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality at an early stage.

Explanatory material/related guidance – Information that supports the use and understanding of the statistics and data, and is available with the statistics; describing, for example, the sources, method, quality, analysis, and providing a narrative about the main findings, policy/operational context and use.

Head of Profession for Statistics – Heads of Profession for Statistics are responsible for overseeing their own organisation’s statistical functions, and meeting their organisation’s statistical needs. They are also responsible for implementing the provisions set out in statistical legislation, both within their own organisation and more generally across the UK statistical system. Heads of Profession play a key role in building trust in official statistics.

Lead official in an arm’s length body – The senior statistician or analyst in an arm’s length body that has been given the responsibility to lead on professional matters by the organisation and liaises with the Head of Profession for Statistics in a sponsoring department.

Lead statistician or analyst – The person who is professionally accountable for the production of statistical outputs.

Limitations – Inherent weaknesses in the quality of statistics, data or statistical methods that should be understood in order to ensure their appropriate use and interpretation.

Metadata – Information or data that defines and describes other data. This can be to help with the discovery and identification of data, for example, through naming and labelling; by describing different data types, relationships with other data and their characteristics; or to help with data management by indicating when and how it was created, different file types or any other technical information.

National Statistician – Head of the Government Statistical Service and the government’s principal adviser on official statistics. The National Statistician is an executive member of the UK Statistics Authority Board and has executive responsibility for the Office for National Statistics as the Authority’s Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary.

National Statistics – Official statistics assessed as fully compliant with the Code are given National Statistics status by the Office for Statistics Regulation, in line with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Official statistics – Statistics produced by crown bodies, those acting on behalf of crown bodies, or those specified in statutory orders, as defined in section 6 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Public good – Defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 in terms of the Authority’s statutory objective to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. This includes informing the public about social and economic matters; assisting in the development and evaluation of public policy; and regulating quality and publicly challenging the misuse of statistics.

Quality – Data and methods that produce assured statistics. Quality means that statistics fit their intended uses, are based on appropriate data and methods, and are not materially misleading. Quality requires skilled professional judgement about collecting, preparing, analysing and publishing statistics and data in ways that meet the needs of people who want to use the statistics.

Quality standards and guidance – Documentation produced to ensure that statistics and data are produced to consistent and appropriate levels of quality and are suitable for their intended uses.

Relevant legislation – Laws passed by the UK or devolved legislatures that have a direct impact upon the design, collection, processing, storage, publication or use of statistics and data.

Scheduled revisions – Planned amendments to published statistics in order to improve quality by incorporating additional data that were unavailable at the point of initial publication.

Security standards – Standards relating to disciplines such as information security, IT service management, IT governance and business continuity, that can be implemented in order to achieve externally assessed and certified compliance.

Statistical microdata – Sets of records containing information on individual persons, households or businesses which are used in the production of aggregate statistics. Access to microdata is often controlled to protect the confidentiality of individual persons or businesses.

Statistical services – Include providing information, advice and technical assistance in relation to statistics; providing quality assessment in relation to statistics; conducting statistical surveys and analysis; collecting, adapting and developing data.

Statistics – A collection of measures about a particular attribute compiled from a set of data. Statistics are used for making generalisations or inferring conclusions about particular attributes, at an aggregate level, for example, about a particular subset of the population.

Trustworthiness – Confidence in the people and organisations that produce statistics and data. Trustworthiness is a product of the people, systems and processes within organisations that enable and support the production of statistics and data. Trustworthiness comes from the organisation that produces statistics and data being well led, well managed and open, and the people who work there being impartial and skilled in what they do.

Types of data – Data may be collected in different ways, including: census, surveys (such as sample surveys of households or businesses), returns from administrative systems, as open data from the large-scale release of government department operational data, and privately-held data from individual private sector organisations (such as business operational data, and data available through web-scraping).

Unscheduled corrections – Amendments made to published statistics in response to the identification or errors following their initial publication.

Value – Statistics that support society’s needs for information. Value means that the statistics and data are useful, easy to access, remain relevant, and support understanding of important issues. Value includes improving existing statistics and creating new ones through discussion and collaboration with stakeholders, and being responsible and efficient in the collection, sharing and use of statistical information.

Voluntary application – We advocate the framework of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value to be considered by official bodies and by organisations outside government in relation to the publication of statistics and data that have the potential to enhance debate. This approach is flexible, and entirely optional. We consider that such an ambition has the potential to raise standards and to enhance the profile of the Code.

Please help us improve our website by answering a few quick questions.