Knife Crime - guidance to civil servants
The row over knife crime resulted in guidance being issued to civil servants in the use of official statistics by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell. This ought not to have been news to them, since the substance of his "new" guidance is already part of the statistical Code of Practice.
It is notable, however, that he chose to emphasise that decisions taken by statistical professionals are final – disregarded in the knife crime case - and that unpublished statistics must not be used without the advice of a statistical professional.
For the record, the full text of Sir Gus’s guidance is below:
Good Practice in the use of Official Statistics:
Guidance for non-statistical staff
The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 established the UK Statistics Authority and required it to draw up a Code of Practice for official statistics.
The Code of Practice was published in January 2009 and provides a statement of good practice to be applied to official statistics in the United Kingdom.
The key points to note are:
· When preparing any publication containing statistics, including those drawn from administrative or management information, you must involve statistical professionals at the earliest opportunity
· You must not use unpublished statistics without the advice of a statistical professional
· You must not selectively quote favourable data from any unpublished dataset
· Decisions taken by statistical professionals are final
· Any publication containing official statistics must provide information relating to their quality, reliability and usability
· Pre-release access to official statistics is a privilege. You must not disclose any information, nor seek to alter it in any way
· Ignoring the above may constitute a breach of the code and result in an investigation by the UK Statistics Authority and a published report to Parliament.
If you are unclear about what course of action to take, or with any of the advice provided above:
· Contact your departmental Head of Profession for Statistics
· If you cannot reach them or a deputy you can contact the National Statistician through the Helpline
· The Code of Practice for Official Statistics is available at: