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2011 census: Confidentiality

The main rules and laws that protected the confidentiality of census returns in 2011 were:

  • the Census Act 1920
  • the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991
  • the Freedom of Information (Scotland )Act 2002
  • the Data Protection Act 1998

Find out more about these rules and laws.

The 2011 Census

Before the 2011 census, we published Considerations of the Impact on Public Privacy of Scotland’s Census.

This sets out the information security arrangements we put in place.

We processed all personal information we collected in the 2011 census in Scotland. We also kept the number of staff who we gave access to census data to a minimum.

Read more about how we processed 2011 census data.

Before we allowed staff to access census data we made sure they:

  • had security clearance
  • were trained in how to handle personal information
  • confirmed in writing they understood it is a criminal offence to reveal personal information from the census

We securely wiped or destroyed all data storage equipment used during the census.  Independent checks made sure this met UK government standards.

We also securely destroyed all the returned paper questionnaires.

Independent security reviews

There were 3 independent security reviews of the 2011 census. These looked at the arrangements to protect personal information we collected.

The first 2 reviews looked at arrangements across all UK censuses. The third was specific to the Scottish census.

Read the first UK-wide Independent Security Review of 2011 Census.

Read the second UK-wide Independent Security Review of the 2011 census.

Read the security review of the 2011 Scottish census.