You asked

Under Freedom of Information I wish to be informed of the following in relation to Roma:

  1. Which government departments, local authorities and any other organisation (including security services) has asked for information on Roma?

  2. The reasons stated for doing so?

  3. On what, and with whom, is the ONS consulting on the inclusion of Roma in the next census 2021?

We said

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request in relation to Roma.

In June 2015 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) launched a public consultation asking census users for their views on the topics (including ethnic group) that the Census 2021 questionnaire in England and Wales might cover. Anyone could take part in this consultation and the resulting users’ feedback continues to inform further research which will contribute to the development and testing of appropriate census questions. The consultation received 1095 responses. Respondents indicated a need for further ethnic group data on a range of groups, including Roma. All responses to this consultation have been published in full on our website:

The responses including a specific request for information on Roma were: Sheffield City Council, Coordinator for UK Race and Europe Network, and Discrimination Law Association.

To explore the needs for information on specific needs for more detailed ethnic group information, we launched an ethnic group stakeholder follow-up survey in November 2016. This was sent to consultation respondents on the ethnic group topic, and is freely available on our website:

The follow-up survey yielded requests for data on 55 additional ethnic groups; including further requests for information on the Roma community from six additional organisations: National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups, Cornwall Council, Manchester City Council, Oldham Council, Tai Pawb, and London Borough of Redbridge.

There were two forms of request:

1) Requests for a new “Roma” tick-box

2) Requests for “Roma” to be added to the existing “Gypsy/Irish Traveller” tick-box

Reasons for wanting additional data were linked to our user need evaluation categories of:

  • Resource allocation – Central government
  • Resource allocation – Local government
  • Service planning and delivery
  • Equality monitoring
  • Policy development
  • Academic and other research

In summary, the reasons for requesting additional information on Roma communities, either through addition or a ‘Roma’ tick-box or through addition of Roma to the ‘Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ tick-box of the ethnic group question were:

  • The population is estimated (by Salford University) to be at least 200,000 and to be growing nationally.
  • The population is thought to be under counted due to the lack of a specific tick-box.
  • The population is considered to be a vulnerable group and therefore additional information would aid work around advocacy, social cohesion and inclusion, language support, and equality assessments.
  • Roma is listed in the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Following the consultations, we evaluated the need for data on each group requested. This evaluation considered requests against four criteria: ‘strength of user need’, ‘availability of alternative data sources’, ‘data quality’ and ‘comparability’. Having applied these criteria, we narrowed the 55 requests down to four final requests that we are still considering for Census 2021: Jewish, Roma, Sikh, Somali.

We published an update on our work in December 2017 setting out our current position:

On the 13 December 2017, we held a Public Policy Forum in which we emphasised that we were continuing to listen to the communities and data users:

Since December we have been continuing our stakeholder engagement and have discussed the potential for collecting additional information on Roma via the ethnic group question on the Census 2021 questionnaire with: Aziz Foundation, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and their Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Liaison Group, Government Equalities Office (GEO), and members of the Roma community.

We now need to finalise our recommendations for which tick boxes to include on the Census 2021 ethnic group question. We have established an Ethnic Group Assurance Panel to support our process. This panel is led by ONS and includes representatives from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Greater London Authority, Local Government Association, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Justice, Department for Education, NHS Digital and academics with expertise in ethnicity. Our ongoing research is reviewed by this group to provide external assurance that research meets the user need.