Futureproofing the Code of Practice for Statistics

OSR has launched a Review of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The first Code of Practice for Statistics was published in January 2009. In February 2018, OSR published version 2.0 of the Code of Practice for Statistics after a significant review and refresh of the standards we expect for the production of data and statistics. Since then we have seen a lot of change in the data landscape, increased desire for statistics from users, and changes in the ways statistics producers are working.

We think this is an ideal time for us to review the Code to make sure it remains relevant and to identify opportunities for us to make improvements.

From September through to December, OSR will be seeking to gather feedback from stakeholders on the Code of Practice. We will be running a range of online sessions for all interested parties – from statistics producers to statistics users alike – to explore some of the key topics which might be relevant when thinking about the Code.

Share your views through our call to evidence

OSR is seeking evidence on the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The second edition of the Code of Practice for Statistics was released in February 2018. It established a framework for the standards of statistics production grounded on three core principles or ‘pillars’:

  • Trustworthiness – confidence in the people and organisations that produce statistics and data
  • Quality – data and methods that produce assured statistics
  • Value – statistics that support society’s needs for information

Since that time the Code has been firmly embedded into the work of official statisticians and by a community of practitioners beyond official statistics.

Our review, The State of the Statistics System, has highlighted how well over recent years producers have responded to urgent needs for data and statistics and have continued to innovate in challenging circumstances – such as during the COVID-19 pandemic and since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, declining response rates, sample biases, and data privacy concerns can have a significant impact on the quality of statistics. In a wider landscape of technological advances, statistics need to remain relevant, accurate and reliable – the increasing use of new and alternative data sources and advances in technology are opportunities for the statistical system to embrace.

The role of the Code is to provide a clear steer for those producing statistics on the standards to be applied to ensure that statistics command public confidence. We would like to hear from stakeholders across a wide range of settings on their thoughts about the suitability of the Code and on how it can be adapted to meet the challenges and opportunities on the horizon. The information provided will inform the OSR’s decision making on whether changes are required to the Code. The call for evidence will also inform how we support organisations that produce statistics who wish to apply the standards of the Code in a voluntary way.

Respond to our call for evidence now!

Please submit your response to this call for evidence by completing this MS Form (best for individual responses).


Alternatively you can download a Word version  of the call for evidence (best for group and combined responses).

Email your Word responses to regulation@statistics.gov.uk or return by post to:

Office for Statistics Regulation, UK Statistics Authority, Statistics House, Cardiff Road, Newport, South Wales, NP10 8XG


This call to evidence runs from 18 September 2023 to 11 December 2023.

If you have any comments or feedback about the way this call for evidence has been conducted, please email: regulation@statistics.gov.uk.

Upcoming Events:

Click the links below to reserve your place at our upcoming ‘Futureproofing the Code of Practice for Statistics’ events:

Online Session 1 – Maintaining data quality: 26 September 2023

Join us for this first session where a panel of speakers consider some of the pressures and challenges facing the quality of research and statistics, particularly how data quality can be maintained in the light of concerns about survey response rates, use of personal data, and wider perceptions of loss of trust in institutions.

Online Session 2 – Data ethics and AI: 18 October 2023

Join us for our second session where a panel of speakers will discuss what they see as the key ethical issues in the era of AI and how to balance serving the public good with the potential for individualised harms.

Online Session 3 – Changing user demands for data: 23 November 2023

Join us for our third and final session where a panel of speakers will discuss how official statistics can remain relevant with greater demands for real-time data and the use of automation in data production.

Previous Events

Below you will find summaries of events related to futureproofing the Code of Practice for Statistics. Expand the event boxes to see more.

On 13 September 2023, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) held a launch event for our review of the Code of Practice, to ensure it continues to effectively serve the production and regulation of government statistics. One of our newly recruited Regulators Luke Boyce summarises the event and what was discussed.

When I first joined OSR, I was excited to hear about the upcoming Code review project, to ensure it remains relevant. Coming directly from a statistics team elsewhere in government I was already familiar with the Code of Practice and its importance in relation to statistics production in government.

However, getting to apply the Code in my regulatory work these last four months has given me a newfound appreciation for its importance, especially the value pillar. Without value, statistics in government can’t serve the public good, but without a Code that reflects the current statistical system, this mission is difficult to achieve.

Clearly I wasn’t the only one excited to hear about what’s next for the Code of Practice for Statistics, with almost 300 people, both from across government and the general public, in attendance. The last full refresh of the Code of Practice was 5 years ago in 2018 and the consensus among guest speakers, OSR colleagues and those that participated in the Q&A, was one of strong enthusiasm for adapting the Code to underpin a statistical system that is rapidly changing.

Topics covered Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its effect on society, the rise in administrative data use, live data and dashboards, and data linkage across government. Some of these topics will also be covered in later events during the Code review so keep an eye out for them if you’re interested.

It was great to hear from a variety of speakers, both from inside and outside government and how the Code of Practice impacts their work.

Tracey Brown, Director of Sense About Science talked about their mission to increase the public’s knowledge of evidence, directly in line with the Code of Practice, especially the trustworthiness and value pillars. She talked about the public’s increased interest in statistics in the post pandemic world and why this puts increased emphasis on official statistics serving the public good and why it’s important that we update the Code in line with the world we now live in.

Catherine Hutchinson, Head of the Evaluation Task Force at the Cabinet Office talked about how trust in government, and by decision makers in government, to use the evidence provided, can also be heavily reinforced through intelligent transparency and tackling the misuse of statistics, using the pillars of the Code. She explained how the evaluation of policy and operational decisions prior to full national or larger scale implementation is important as it ensures public money is spent effectively. To do this, quality statistics and evaluation reports that the public have free access to are required which can be enabled by an effective code of practice.

Stephen Aldridge, Director for Analysis and Data Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, described how the Code of Practice informs everyday work for every analytical team in government, and highlighted the need for a Code that takes into account the appropriate use of new technologies and techniques, such as AI and cross government data linkage to enable analyst to carry out new innovative work.

He also highlighted how the Code can support all analytical work, including published management information. He argued that flexibility in the application of the Code is important, to ensure it is easier to apply to different types of statistics including those outside government. He added that data dashboards are a great new emerging tool in government statistics that allow the public to access live data rather than having to wait for infrequent releases – however, these dashboards can sometimes miss vital insight and commentary. A Code refresh could emphasise the importance of demonstrating trustworthiness outside of a traditional bulletin and allow official statistics to exist in a live format.

At the end of the event, there were many questions, and enthusiasm for the Code review. Questions included how the review will address the growing interest in real time data, allow the development of statistics that serve the public good and are not just tied to policy priorities, and how the Code of Practice applies to published government figures that aren’t produced by statisticians.

The launch event was just the start of the Code Review. On Monday 18 September 2023 OSR launched an online Call for Evidence for you to share your feedback with us about the Code. There will also be several more panel events, focussing on areas including data quality, data ethics and AI, and user demands. I’m really excited to attend these events and I hope to see you there.

We hope that our events will encourage you to complete our online Call for Evidence which will remain open until 11 December 2023.

Get in touch

If you would like to contact us regarding the review, please do email us at regulation@statistics.gov.uk