It has been great to get out and about to speak about the draft Code of Practice for Statistics over the past few months as we ran over 30 sessions. Our team has covered over 4000 miles all around the UK since the start of the consultation in July, visiting many departments and agencies that produce official statistics. We’ve also met a wide range of stakeholders – some working in other areas of analysis and data, plus others outside of government but with a keen interest in statistics.
The consultation closes today – 5 October – and now the work begins to reflect on all the feedback we have received. It has been terrific to see the genuine enthusiasm for the Code and its importance in setting standards. We strongly feel the responsibility in ensuring that the Code clearly sets out these standards, supported by guidance to show what it looks like to comply with the Code.
The road show seminars reminded us of the need for the Code to reach everyone in producer organisations – to ensure that everyone understands their individual responsibilities. This becomes essential in dealing with pre-release access, and other aspects of orderly release such as releasing at the standard time of 9.30am. Other aspects of sharing data and statistics are of big concern to analysts – from providing low quality data under Freedom of Information legislation to questions about sharing data with colleagues working on modelling prior to publication. The use of worked examples on our website, alongside the Code, will go a long way in helping to support understanding of how the Code applies in different situations.
We have also spoken about our wider ambition for the Code. We see its principles as having universal application with all kinds of data, being a useful guide particularly when publishing data that are important in helping to inform users or supporting them when making decisions. The audience at the Code seminars suggested some challenges that we will face as a regulator in managing voluntary compliance but also identified some very real opportunities.
Overall we found strong support for our proposed framework of ‘Trustworthiness, Quality and Value’ from those involved in producing official statistics. But we also heard from some who found the concepts to have a degree of overlap – highlighting that good quality and relevant statistics lead to trust. Under the proposed framework, it is essential that those producing statistics demonstrate why they deserve public confidence and why their statistics can be trusted.
“…it is essential that those producing statistics demonstrate why they deserve public confidence and why their statistics can be trusted.”
We are grateful to everyone who attended one of our sessions for being so willing to hear about the Code and to participate in discussions. We hope to be able to continue the conversations once we have published the refreshed Code, to support all those involved in publishing official statistics in understanding what it means for them in their role, as well as promoting its wider application.
Our next steps are to review the consultation responses and all of the feedback we have received throughout the consultation period. We will be publishing a response that summarises the feedback, including how we plan to incorporate it in the final version of the second edition of the Code of Practice. Do keep an eye out for future blog posts to stay updated on the latest developments.