Public Administration Select Committee: Press Notices

5 March 2009


The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has today decided to publish a series of e-mails relating to the release of knife-crime statistics in December last year. The release led to a public expression of concern by the UK Statistics Authority, and subsequently to an apology by the Home Secretary for the premature release of one data set. The e-mails, sent between special advisers, government statisticians and other civil servants, concern the release of this data set. They were provided to the Committee by the UK Statistics Authority at the Committee’s request. Some personal information has been removed.

PASC has also published a letter received from Kevin Brennan MP, the Cabinet Office Minister responsible for statistics, giving the Government’s version of events, and providing a copy of guidance which has been issued to non-statistical staff on good practice in the use of official statistics.

The e-mails and Minister’s letter are attached to this press notice. They will also be available on the Committee’s website as soon as possible.


• On 11 December 2008, the Home Office published a press notice and fact sheet outlining progress made following six months of the Tackling Knives Action Programme.

• On 12 December, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority wrote to the Permanent Secretary at 10 Downing Street, expressing concern about the statistics used in the announcement, in particular one data set which was not yet due for publication and had not been properly checked. The statisticians who produced the data and the National Statistician had tried but failed to prevent its publication.

• On 15 December, the Home Secretary apologised to the House of Commons for the publication of this one data set.

• On 6 January 2009, alongside a new Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the Statistics Authority also published a note analysing the Home Office press release against the principles contained in the new Code, revealing numerous concerns, not just about the one prematurely released statistic but about a number of the figures in the Home Office factsheet and the way in which they were presented.

• On 5 February, PASC took evidence from Sir Michael Scholar, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Karen Dunnell, the National Statistician, and Kevin Brennan MP, the Cabinet Office Minister responsible for statistics.

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Committee Membership: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Charles Walker (Con) (Broxbourne), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

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