T1: Honesty and integrity

People in organisations that release statistics should be truthful, impartial and independent, and meet consistent standards of behaviour that reflect the wider public good.


T1.1 Everyone that works in organisations producing official statistics should handle and use statistics and data with honesty and integrity, guided by established principles of appropriate behaviour in public life.

T1.2 The collection, access, use and sharing of statistics and data should be ethical and for the public good. Those producing and releasing statistics should be free from conflicts of interest, including political and commercial pressures, that may influence the production, release and sharing of the statistics and data.

T1.3 No action should be taken, nor public statement made, that might undermine confidence in the independence of the statistics when released.

T1.4 Statistics, data and explanatory material should be presented impartially and objectively.

Case studies

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the authoritative and recognised provider of rail statistics in Great Britain. ORR’s production of official statistics is distinct from its role as a regulator. Its statistical releases do not compare results against targets, or make judgements about how Network Rail, train operators, or other entities should be performing. All commentary is therefore factual, based on the trends in the statistics, without giving an opinion on the results.

ORR’s Information & Analysis (I&A) team is responsible for the production of all of its official statistics. The team consists of statisticians and business intelligence analysts. The principles of the Code and the working practices used to produce its statistics are explained to all ORR staff involved in the production of statistics upon induction.

The I&A team ensure that clear handling instructions are provided to those who access the statistics before they are published as management information, or in the production or pre-release stages. For example, some of the data ORR uses to publish statistics is also used as management information to support ORR’s ongoing regulatory monitoring of Network Rail through a series of internal dashboards. These are provided to users with specific handling instructions that they are for internal monitoring purposes only, and must not be disclosed to third parties.

ORR’s Communications team also have a clear understanding of how the Code applies to their activities, and new joiners are briefed by a senior statistician. The statistics pages are the most popular on the ORR website and the team recognise the value of being the trusted source of rail statistics. ORR’s statistics are one way in which it can demonstrate its authority, professionalism and breadth of knowledge about the rail industry. Communicating them clearly helps the media, stakeholders and public to be well-informed on key aspects of the rail industry. A media handling plan is agreed between ORR’s head of profession for statistics and the Communications team to ensure social media, press releases, blogs, internal briefs, and other communication using official statistics are compliant with the Code whilst still supporting ORR’s role as a regulator.

To further raise awareness of the Code within ORR, statisticians present at staff briefings and regularly offer work shadowing to communications staff and analysts joining other teams.

This example demonstrates some of the ways in which ORR ensures its statistics are truthful, impartial and independent. It also shows how ORR ensures its staff handle and use statistics and data with honesty and integrity and meet consistent standards of behaviour that reflect the wider public good.

Guidance and resources

How to report a breach against the Code of Practice for Statistics when an organisation fails to meet the standards set out in the Code. Breaches should be reported to the Government Statistical Service’s (GSS) Good Practice Team. Includes guidance on what you need to know, the process to report a breach, the template to complete and submit to the Good Practice Team, and a list of the common breaches of the Code with considerations and corrective actions to take.Reporting breaches of the CodeGSS
Examples of published breach reports.Breach reportsUKSA
The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. These are based on the core values which are set out in legislation: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.The Civil Service CodeCivil Service Commission
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics sets out the standards of official statistics that have been adopted at all levels of the UN. It recognises that reliable and objective information is crucial for decision making.UN Fundamental Principles of Official StatisticsUNECE