What are Official Statistics
Official statistics are statistical outputs produced by Government departments and agencies, the Office for National Statistics, and by other Crown bodies. Official statistics are fundamental to good government, to the delivery of public services and to decision-making in all sectors of society.
Who is the UK Statistics Authority?
The UK Statistics Authority was established under the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The Authority is an independent statutory body. It operates at arm’s length from government as a non-ministerial department and reports directly to the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. More information can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website.
Who produces official statistics in Northern Ireland?
Code of Practice for Statistics
What is the Code of Practice?
The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 requires the UK Statistics Authority to prepare and publish a Code of Practice and to assess compliance against it.
The Code of Practice for Statistics promotes the production and dissemination of official statistics that inform decision making and supports the continuous improvement of those statistics. The Code applies to all UK bodies that produce official statistics and can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website.
The framework for the Code of Practice for Statistics is based on three pillars:
- Trustworthiness is about having confidence in the people and organisations that produce statistics and data.
- Quality is about using data and methods that produce assured statistics.
- Value is about producing statistics that support society’s needs for information.
Each pillar contains a number of principles and detailed practices that producers should commit to when producing and releasing official statistics. When producers of official statistics comply with the Code, it gives users of statistics and citizens confidence that published government statistics are of public value, are high quality and are produced by people and organisations that are worthy of trust.
What does this mean for NISRA?
NISRA is committed to complying with the principles of the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Code encourages and supports NISRA to maintain independence and to ensure adequate resourcing for statistical production. It helps producers and users of statistics by setting out the necessary principles and practices to produce statistics that are trustworthy, high quality and of public value.
Official Statistics can only be designated as "National Statistics" following a formal assessment of their compliance with the Code of Practice by the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), as described on the UK Statistics Authority website.
National Statistics are therefore a subset of official statistics which have been assessed for compliance with the Code of Practice.
A list of all National Statistics produced by NISRA can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Pre-Release Access to Official Statistics
The Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order (Northern Ireland) 2009 legislation, which came into operation on 1st April 2009, includes details of when pre-release can occur, who is entitled to access, for how long and under what conditions.
The key elements of the legislation are:
- pre-release access may only be granted to ensure that Ministers and others with similar responsibilities, such as the Chief Executives of certain agencies with relevant policy or operational responsibilities, are able to respond or take action at the time of release;
- limiting pre-release access to a strict maximum of 24 hours;
- requiring that pre-release access be limited to the minimum necessary number of people and the minimum number of statistics; and
- requiring that, where pre-release access is granted, it shall be done in an open and transparent manner, with details documented and published.
In the interests of openness and transparency, and in compliance with pre-release access legislation, NISRA maintains a DoF Statistical releases and pre-release recipients, listing the titles of Department of Finance statistical releases to which pre-release access arrangements apply.
The DoF Pre-release Compliance Statement sets out the Department of Finance's operational arrangements for giving Ministers and their briefing officials pre-release access to Official Statistics once they are in their final form prior to publication.