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This statement sets out the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills operational arrangements for giving Ministers and their officials pre-release access to official statistics once they have attained their final form prior to publication.
These arrangements are designed to ensure that such access is justified, limited, controlled and publicised and complies with statutory requirements. Their purpose is to maintain public confidence in the integrity of official statistics while allowing Ministers or the Chief Executives of delivery partners to account immediately for the implications of statistics covering policy and operational areas for which they are responsible.
This statement is published in conformance with the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008 made under Section 11 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.
The arrangements set out in this statement are confined to those persons who meet the eligibility criteria set out in Annex A(i) attached. Recipients can, in addition, share their access with their administrative support staff even though those staff may not directly engage with the statistics in question.
Their advance access is limited to statistics which meet the eligibility criteria set out in Annex A(ii) attached, and which are in their final form prior to being published for the first time.Documentation and Publication
In the interests of openness and transparency, the Department maintains a public record on its website listing the titles of all the statistical releases to which these arrangements apply, as well as the job titles of all those persons to whom pre-release access has been granted, and the organisations to which they belong.
To view the complete list of official statistics to which this Statement applies, click here.
The justification for giving advance access to each listed recipient is available on request.
Period of access
In line with legislation, pre-release access to the organisation’s official statistics is restricted to a maximum of 24 hours before their public release on the following day – usually at 09.30
In exceptional circumstances, the Head of Profession, in consultation with others, may grant pre-release access in excess of 24 hours if, in their opinion, the public benefit outweighs the detriment to public trust which is likely to result from such extended access. When this happens, the Head of Profession will publish their reasons for granting extended access, and will also inform the UK Statistics Authority.
Conditions of access
Those persons who are given access to the Department’s official statistics ahead of their release must keep the statistics secure and under embargo, and they must abide by certain conditions of access. They must avoid:
Aside from the circumstances described above, the Head of Profession may also allow access to statistics ahead of their release to a limited number of persons in a limited number of special circumstances. For example:
In the event of a breach of the principles and rules set out in the legislation and described in this Statement, the Head of Profession for Statistics will notify the UK Statistics Authority’s Chief Executive (the National Statistician) as well as the Authority’s Head of Assessment; take action to prevent a recurrence; and provide the Authority with a written explanation. The National Statistician may decide to conduct an inquiry on behalf of the Authority, the results of which will be posted on the Authority’s website.
Sanctions against non-compliance The Department’s Head of Profession for Statistics may, for a period, withdraw pre-release access from any person judged to have breached the conditions of their access.
In addition, a heavier sanction can be imposed by the UK Statistics Authority which has a statutory duty to assess the extent to which any organisation’s ‘National Statistics’ comply with the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008 and with the associated obligations set out in this Statement. The Authority can, for instance, challenge an organisation where it considers that pre-release access is not justified or where an organisation is failing to conform with these arrangements. It can also withdraw, or threaten to withdraw, ‘National Statistics’ designation from the statistics in question.
In the event of any such challenge or any such withdrawal the Head of Profession will publish the Department’s response on the Department’s website along with the Department’s plans for achieving conformance.
(a) Pre-release access
In the context described above, the phrase 'pre-release access' covers privileged access to statistical releases in their final form prior to being placed in the public domain. It does not cover pre-release access available to:
Organisations which employ a large number of official statisticians, or produce a large number of official statistics will normally appoint a Head of Profession for Statistics in consultation with the National Statistician. As well as being accountable to their own Ministers and departmental line-managers, Heads of Profession are responsible to the National Statistician for the professional integrity of the statisticians whom they manage, and for the quality of the statistics which those statisticians produce. In particular they are responsible for observing the UK Statistics Authority’s Code of Practice for Statistics as well as any professional standards set by the National Statistician.
CRITERIA FOR GRANTING PRE-RELEASE ACCESS
(i) - Categories of persons within government to whom BIS would normally grant pre-release access to its statistical releases
(ii) - Categories of statistical release to which BIS would normally grant pre-release access
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