Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output HMPPS Annual Offender Equalities Report 2020 to 2021
Name of producer organisation Ministry of Justice
Name and contact details of person dealing with report Sam Rushbrook
Service Users Equalities Performance Lead
Data and Analysis, Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics/Lead Official Jo Peacock
Head of Profession for Statistics
Data and Analysis, Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant) Sir David Norgrove to Dominic Raab – Statistics on transgender prisoners
Date of breach report 25/11/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) T3.4 The circulation of statistics in their final form ahead of their publication should be restricted to eligible recipients, in line with the rules and principles on pre-release access set out in legislation for the UK and devolved administrations. The details of those granted access should be recorded, together with clear justifications for access. No indication of the statistics should be made public and the statistics should not be given to any other party without prior permission for access. The list of recipients should be reviewed regularly and kept to a minimum.
Date of occurrence of breach 24/11/2021

At 09:30 on Wednesday 24 November, the Ministry of Justice statisticians circulated the HMPPS Offender Equalities Report 2020/21 to 80 named individuals within the department who were on the pre-release access list. This was followed at 10:00 by a pre-release access meeting – held via teams – where all those on the pre-release list were invited to discuss the statistics being published and aid press office in the preparation of media handling and lines to take for use on publication day if required.

As normal, the statistics shared under pre-release access were clearly marked in the covering email as sensitive, with clear instructions that they should not be forwarded to anyone else, using the following text in bold red font:

“Official sensitive: these statistics are not to be shared outside the copy list of this email until they are published. They are due to be published on Thursday 25 November 2021 at 9:30am. Do not forward this email or the contents of this email until the statistics have been released.”

Despite this, at 21:00 on 24 November 2021 the Daily Telegraph published an article which referred to new statistics contained within the Ministry of Justice report due to be published the following day. The article can be found here:

The findings reported by the Telegraph focused on transgender prisoners and quoted:

  • The total number of Transgender prisoners in 2021 and the increase compared to 2019
  • The gender with which transgender prisoners identified
  • The number of prisoners with a Gender Recognition Certificate

This was subsequently picked up by the Daily Mail, before official release:

During the pre-release day, but before the Telegraph article was published, the figure on number of prisoners with a Gender Recognition Certificate was found to be incorrect and was removed from the publication.

It is not known how the Telegraph obtained the statistics they quoted. However, we believe it can only have come from accessing the Ministry of Justice report circulated under pre-release.

The report was published as planned at 09:30 25 November 2021.

The article focused on the 21% increase in the number of transgender prisoners recorded in 2021 (197) compared to 2019 (163) and presented these alongside commentary from campaigning organisations.

As the incorrect statistic on Gender Recognition Certificates was published by the Telegraph, incorrect information is in the public domain. A correct figure for the number of prisoners with a Gender Recognition Certificate was published in an update to the Offender Equalities Report on 20 January 2022.

On the 26 November Sir David Norgrove wrote to Rt Hon Dominic Rabb MP in response to this statistical Breach – letter published at Sir David Norgrove to Dominic Raab – Statistics on transgender prisoners – UK Statistics Authority.

Press Office contacted the Telegraph to inform them that the Gender Recognition Certificate figure had been removed from the publication planned for the 25 November. The Telegraph published the figure despite this.

The Department has taken this breach seriously. With approval from the Permanent Secretary the Chief Security Officer commenced a leak investigation on Monday 29 November. Questionnaires have been issued to everyone on the pre-release access list and other individuals who were identified as having had access through the investigation, and IT searches were conducted. Appropriate action will be taken based on the findings from the investigation. As with all Departmental leaks, Cabinet Office has been made aware.

Sir David’s letter highlighted the large number of people on the pre-release access list. In response to this breach we are reviewing with an aim to substantially reducing the number of people with pre-release access across all of the Ministry of Justice’s statistical publications. This review is on-going, and the MoJ Chief Statistician is liaising directly with the Office for Statistics Regulation with respect to this process.
Rt Hon Dominic Raab has since responded to Sir David’s letter, with the response published at Response from Dominic Raab MP to Sir David Norgrove: Statistics on transgender prisoners – UK Statistics Authority.