Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output National Child Measurement Programme, England 2020/21 School Year
Name of producer organisation NHS Digital
Name and contact details of person dealing with report Emily Wilson
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 17/11/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) Pre-release statistics shared outside the pre-release list (Principle T3, Practices T3.3, T3.4)
Date of occurrence of breach 15/11/2021

At 18:42 on the 15th of November it was flagged by the Programme Manager of National Child Measurement Programme, England 2020/21 School Year (NCMP), that 6 DHSC officials who were not on the Pre-release Access (PRA) list were copied into an email describing the NCMP data. The email was for briefing purposes for the report which was due to be released at 9.30am on 16th November.

The breach occurred when colleagues on the PRA list asked others who were not on the PRA list to help with drafting the ministerial briefing, press briefing and media handling. These colleagues, in the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, were not analysts and were not familiar with handling PRA statistics. All emails that have been sent by the DHSC briefing co-ordinators have included the following statement:

‘Official-SENSITIVE’ Please do not circulate or forward this submission or any of the pre-release access documents more widely – only those on the pre-release access lists are able to view this documents and data before 9.30am tomorrow (Tuesday 16 November).’

We are not aware of any similar breaches from Public Health England relating to PRA.

There is no external impact regarding this breach as the data was not shared further.

Internally, the impact was that 6 DHSC officials not on the Pre-release Access list were given access. All those copied into the email were made aware of the need to not circulate more widely before 9:30 on the 16th of November, due to the statement above that was included in all email communications regarding the publication.

As an immediate response, follow up emails were sent to those involved shortly after the event, advising this was a breach and noting the importance of following the Code of Practice for Statistics. In any further emails sent that day, staff moved the ‘Official-Sensitive’ marking to the top of the email in red.

The team’s awareness of the Code of Practice and Pre-release Access (PRA) will be reviewed, which may result in further training for new members of staff to educate them on their obligations under the Code of Practice.

The text advising colleagues not to share information will be placed more prominently in future correspondence when handling official statistics for which OHID has PRA.
For the next release of this publication, we will consider increased management control of the process and using stronger wording on the text that is sent out alongside PRA.