Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output Benefits Statistics Summary Publication May 2021
Name of producer organisation Department for Communities

Name and contact details of person dealing with report Eileen Crone
or Peter Wilgar
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics or Lead Official Paul McKillen
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 24/08/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) T3.3 - Access to statistics before their public release
should be limited to those involved in the production
of the statistics
Date of occurrence of breach 24/08/2021

At 9.31am on 24/08/2021, a request was sent by the Department for Communities (DfC) to the NISRA social media mailbox, to issue a post on the NISRA Facebook page regarding the release of the Benefit Statistics Summary May 2021 publication, which was released on the following day (25/08/2021). The post contained a link to the publication page and an infographic containing some statistics from the publication. On seeing the request, the official covering the NISRA social media mailbox mistakenly issued the post on Facebook on 24/08/2021. While the link to the publication page did not work – as the statistical release had not been published at that time – the infographic was released. The error was noticed immediately, and the post was deleted within two minutes.

There is no evidence that there has been any impact. At no point prior to its official release was the report accessible to the public. On noticing the error, the Facebook post containing the infographic was deleted within a few minutes. There were no comments or interactions (‘likes’ or ‘shares’) on the post while it was active.

The official responsible for the social media mailbox noticed the error immediately, and took steps instantly to remove the post from the NISRA Facebook page.

Those covering the social media mailbox will be made aware of the steps to take to ensure that posts are not put up before the publication is released.

In addition, the team responsible for managing the NISRA social media accounts will enhance current practices, and will cross-check social media requests against a list of statistical publications due for release on GOV.UK. This will reduce the likelihood of a similar incident occurring, and will also highlight potential discrepancies/errors in the social media requests (for example, mistakes in dates or times).