Code of Practice for Statistics

Helpful resources – using official statistics

Why is the Code important?

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 judgements 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.

Why is the Code relevant to me?

The Code benefits all of us, as users and as citizens. The need to focus on the interests of users of statistics sits at the heart of the Code.

Compliance with the Code gives you confidence that the statistics produced by government departments and public bodies have been prepared by professionally-independent statisticians, free from political pressure; that they are produced using sound methods and are based on reliable data sources; and that they provide insight, support decision-making and inform debate.

Helpful resources

The menus below include helpful links and guidance on finding statistics and data, checking the quality of statistics, and writing about statistics. Some of this guidance was written for producers of official statistics, but general users may find it useful when thinking and writing about statistics in other contexts.

Description Link Source
A complete list of all statistical products that the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has designated as National Statistics. List of National Statistics OSR
Find official statistics from across government, including statistical releases and data tables. statistics homepage UK Government
Find official statistics from across the Scottish Government, including statistical releases and data tables. Scottish Government
Find official statistics from across the Welsh Government, including statistical releases and data tables. Welsh Government statistics homepage Welsh Government
Find official statistics from across Northern Ireland, produced by the Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency (NISRA), including statistical releases and data tables. NISRA homepage NISRA
Find official statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), including statistical releases, articles, and data tables. ONS homepage ONS
Visual.ONS is a website exploring new approaches to making ONS statistics accessible and relevant to a wide public audience. Visual ONS homepage ONS
Nomis is a service provided by ONS to give you free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources. Nomis ONS
Stat-Xplore provides a guided way to explore DWP benefit statistics and allows you to create customised tabulations. Stat-Xplore DWP
StatsWales is a free-to-use service that allows you to view, manipulate, create and download tables from Welsh Government data. StatsWales Welsh Government
Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service (NINIS) makes available small area information held within Central Government and Non-Departmental Public Bodies in Northern Ireland. NINIS NISRA

Description Link Source
Find data published by government departments and agencies, public bodies and local authorities. You can use this data to learn more about how government works, carry out research or build applications and services. UK Government
Explore the UK’s largest collection of social, economic and population data resources. UK Data Service homepage UK Data Service

We have developed a diagnostic tool to help users decide if data are suitable for their use, if data are reliable, and to form a view on official statistics. We would welcome feedback on this tool.

Data Diagnostic Tool (PDF)

Description Link Source
A Government Statistical Service (GSS) guide to writing about statistics. Writing About Statistics guide (PDF) GSS
The Office for National Statistics’ style guide covers the elements of writing about statistics. It aims to make statistical content more open and understandable, based on editorial research and best practice. ONS style guide ONS
The United National Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) guide on making data meaningful is a practical tool to help managers, statisticians and media relations officers use text, tables, graphics and other information to bring statistics to life using effective writing techniques. It contains suggestions, guidelines and examples. A UNECE guide to making data meaningful (PDF) UNECE
Guidance for BBC journalists regarding how to report statistics. Its purpose is to highlight some of the pitfalls and offer guidance on how to interpret and report figures. Topics include: looking beyond the headline, contextualising statistics, and transparency. BBC reporting statistics guidelines BBC
A guide to interpreting and using statistics by economist Tim Harford. It contains six tips for questioning dubious statistics and understanding what a statistic is really telling you. Postcard-sized guide to statistics Tim Harford

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