|Title and link to statistical output||The People and Nature Survey for England: Monthly indicators with specific weight for April 2020 - March 2021 (Official Statistics)The People and Nature Survey for England: Monthly indicators with specific weight for April 2020 - March 2021 (Official Statistics) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)|
|Name of producer organisation||Natural England|
|Name and contact details of person dealing with report||Katherine Burgess|
|Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics or Lead Official||Defra HoP – Ken Roy |
|Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)|
|Date of breach report||05/07/2021|
|Relevant principle(s) and practice(s)||Principle T3 – Orderly Release (Practices T3.1 and T3.6)|
|Date of occurrence of breach||02/07/2021|
Natural England’s People and Nature Survey has been publishing Monthly interim indicators (Official Statistics) since data collection started in April 2020. These monthly indicators are a vital information source to understand the impact of coronavirus on how people use the natural environment in England. Initial releases that contained statistics covering April 2020 – March 2021 were calculated using interim weights.
After one year of data collection, we have developed a finalised specific weighting scheme for the People and Nature Survey. Interim weights differ from the specific weights, therefore, previous statistics released that were generated using the interim weight needed to be updated.
On Friday 02/07/2021 at 16:33, revised monthly indicators for April 2020 – March 2021 from the People and Nature survey, which had been generated using the specific weight, were uploaded to GOV.UK. The Senior Responsible Officer at Natural England had believed the GOV.UK page update was going to comprise a description of the revised monthly indicators and would not feature any datasets ahead of their pre-announced publication schedule on 14/07/2021.
However, revised monthly indicator statistics alongside a description of the update for the GOV.UK collections page were provided to the publications team by the People and Nature Survey data analysts. Analysts were unaware of responsibilities around the orderly release of the revised monthly indicators, which are Official Statistics, set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. As such, these revised monthly indicators were published ahead of schedule.
The breach was realised at 18:15 on 02/07/2021 and the publications team were asked to immediately remove the datasets. The publications team attended to this request as soon as they could after the weekend and the revised monthly indicators were removed from GOV.UK by 09:30 on 05/07/2021. The decision was taken to remove the data published ahead of schedule since it had a dedicated communications strategy around it, which alerted users to not just the publication, but also how the methods had changed and that these revised statistics should now be used instead of previous interim statistic releases.
The revised monthly indicator statistical release did not contain personally identifiable or disclosive information.
From 16:33 on 02/07/2021 to 09:30 on 05/07/2021, the revised monthly indicator dataset was downloaded three times. Please note, at least one of these downloads was the Senior Responsible Officer for the People and Nature Survey.
There are very small differences between the majority of interim and finalised specific monthly indicators. As such, it would be extremely unlikely that any user who was able to download the revised indicator dataset would now have an unfair advantage over other users ahead of the scheduled release date of 14/07/2021.
There were no outside influences that impacted on the timing of this release. This incident was a result of miscommunication between the Senior responsible Officer and the People and Nature Survey Data Analysts, a lack of awareness of orderly release of revised Official Statistic datasets, and a misunderstanding around publishing scheduled revisions as soon as practicable (Practice T3.9).
To avoid potential future potential miscommunication issues and publication of Official Statistics before their intended release date, datasets to be uploaded on GOV.UK will be sent to the publications team only by the Senior Responsible Officer/deputy Senior Responsible Officer/Natural England’s Lead Official for Statistics.
The Senior Responsible Officer will also conduct a training session for the People and Nature Survey team centred around the Code’s T3 Principle (Orderly Release).