Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output Planning Inspectorate Monthly Statistical Release
Name of producer organisation The Planning Inspectorate

Name and contact details of person dealing with report Duane Oakes
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics or Lead Official Rachel Graham
Head of Data and Performance
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 18/08/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) Principle T3: Orderly release
Practices T3.3 and T3.4: Pre-release statistics shared with individuals not on the pre-release access list
Date of occurrence of breach 18/08/2021

A new member of staff joined our communications team as press officer and was responsible for preparing a news article to be published on GOV.UK alongside the statistical release on 19 August 2021. They used some of the key statistics from the publication in their draft news article which was then shared with three people outside the published pre-release access list. The three roles were Strategy Director, Corporate Services Director and Professional Lead for Planning.

The breach was identified by the Head of Profession at 1pm. Prior to a new press release being published by the Inspectorate, the Head of Profession and the Data and Performance team are given an opportunity to approve the use of the numbers. Normally this would only be shared with members on the pre-release list but on this occasion, it was shared more widely. The recipients had access to the statistics between 11:51am and 1:21pm. One recipient read the email and attachment (which contained the statistics), one opened the email but did not read the attachment, and one recipient is on annual leave so we are unable to determine if they opened the email and attachment.

At 1:21pm the press officer removed access to the news article for those who were not on the prerelease access list. Our Senior Performance analyst talked to the press officer who inappropriately shared the statistics and explained that a breach had taken place and how the statistics need to be handled.

The pre-release access email made it clear that the pre-release recipients must not forward the email on to anyone not on the pre-release access list, and that those with access before publication must not give any indication of the content of a statistical report, or any suggestion of the size or direction of any trend, to:

  • a. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) or Planning Inspectorate
  • b. Colleagues in other government departments
  • c. The public
  • d. The media
  • e. Any other party not recorded as eligible for access before publication

Minimal impact.

The statistics were shared with one of our professional leads who already has access to similar statistics through our Management Information tool. They did not share the statistics any further. The statistics are not high profile or market sensitive.

We will review our pre-release access wording and see if it can be strengthened, and will reach out to other departments to compare our wording. We will also provide a list of people who can see the pre-release statistics so that it this is clearer to everyone on the list.

We will look to re-brief individuals on the pre-release access list in advance of our next publication. This will be in writing, explaining the latest breach that took place and a reminder of their responsibilities as a pre-release access recipient.