We at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are carrying out the census in England and Wales in 2021. We are an independent, non-ministerial agency that reports directly to Parliament. We are the UK’s largest producer of official statistics and a recognised National Statistical Institute (NSI). We are trusted to collect and protect information. The census asks questions about you, your home and the people who live in it. That is personal information that we keep safe and confidential by law.

How we keep your information safe

We have a strict security regime that follows government standards. This includes physical and IT security measures to protect your information, covering people, processes and technology.

The statistics will not show it is you

We publish statistics from the census so that local councils and central government can better understand the needs of the people living in different areas. We anonymise all information before we publish statistics, so none of your personal details are released.

Your actual census record will be kept secure for 100 years. Only then can it be seen by future generations. For example, in January 2022 you will be able to see what people put on their census forms in 1921.

The law protects you

All our systems, staff and suppliers, and the way we do things, must protect your confidentiality by law.

Laws in place that cover protection of your information include:

We must follow these to the letter.

Data Protection Impact Assessment

The ONS will assess its plans to maintain the confidentiality of information supplied in the census throughout the census transformation process. This will ensure the integrity and transparency of the plans.

The initial report (see Related downloads) covers the first phase of the programme and will be updated to take account of ongoing research, emerging plans and changing requirements. The preparation of this report takes into account guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the advice of privacy advocates, stakeholders and users.

A summary of our work on a Data Protection Impact Assessment for Census 2021 can be found in the You might also be interested in section.