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Data Access Panel

The Scottish Government is committed to making statistics available in as much detail as possible, subject to the legal and privacy constraints as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998. Data Controllers, in this instance Scottish Ministers, are responsible for ensuring that personal data are processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. At an operational level, Information Asset Owners (IAO) act on the  behalf of Scottish Ministers and are responsible for understanding what data is held; what is added and what is removed; how information is transferred; and who has access to data and why.

The Scottish Government receives a number of requests to access data that we own or has been entrusted to us. In some circumstances - primarily for statistical analysis and research purposes - these requests will be to access more detailed background data that has been used to produce official statistics and is not available through our standard publications. Such requests are at the discretion of the IAO’s.

To support IAOs making decisions on whether to approve data access requests, a Data Access Panel has been established, which operates in-line with the Data Protection Act 1998. An IAO is encouraged to approach the Data Access Panel if they have any concerns regarding a data access request. If the IAO identifies the request as being medium to high risk (using a matrix template), they will submit their assessment to the Data Access Panel for review. The Panel will then recommend whether the request should be approved or declined. This proportionate approach ensures that privacy is considered and balanced against the efficient use of data for research and statistics.

In an effort to support transparency around data access requests, the Scottish Government is committed to publishing all requests that are submitted to the Data Access Panel (below).


Requests submitted to the Data Access Panel

Title of request

Risk Score*



Date of Decision
National Records of Scotland - Census 8 Access Granted Access to Scottish Household Survey data requested to help with development of Census. September 2017
University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 9 Access Granted

Access to the linked dataset from homelessness and health  project and justice data, to describe health outcomes among people with the overlapping combination of adverse social and health experiences known as severe and multiple disadvantage (SMD), in order to identify opportunities for prevention and mitigation and to inform service planning and delivery.

September 2017

Urban Studies, University of Glasgow

12 Access Granted

This project examines accessibility of local services and especially whether deprived areas are poorly served. It aims to determine if community social capital is related to improved services. Access requested of Scottish Household Survey data at data zone level.

March 2017

School of Management, Economics Division, University of Stirling

14 Access Granted

Access requested to anonymised Social Care data in order to forecast future costs of long-term care services associated with the ageing population, and to explain variation in utilisation and costs of care packages and Self-Directed Support for the Scottish population aged 50+ who received social care services between 2010 and 2016.

January 2017
Fife Geodemographic Resource for Insight Development (GRID) 13 Access Granted

The Scottish Survey Core Questions dataset was requested in order to analyse the outcomes for different groups in Fife in relation to health, employment, etc, by looking at equality characteristics and outcomes.

August 2016
Local Level Household Income Estimates 13 Access Granted

Scottish Household Survey record level data (including Data Zone) is required to develop a model for household income by area, as well as establishing income distributions for household types and socio-economic groups. It was agreed that sufficient safeguards (including researcher accreditation, security environment) were in place to allow this data to be shared securely. 

January 2016
Strathclyde Regional Transport Model 13 Access Granted

This request was for travel diary data from the Scottish Household Survey at the individual level. This data will be used by academics to develop a model. Subsequent updates of the model will be undertaken by SYSTRA Ltd; a UK company who regularly provide transport modelling and analysis for Transport Scotland and Scottish Government. It was agreed that the researchers must demonstrate a clear need for each of the demographic variables requested before access is granted, with data collapsed to the highest category level where appropriate, limiting any risk of identifying individuals. The data can then be shared as specified in the submitted application.

January 2016
Impact of information on food waste in the dairy supply chain in Scotland. 15 Access Denied

The data was collected using the Statistics of Trade Act (1947) and as a consequence it is not possible to share the requested data for research and statistics purposes.

July 2015

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Measurement Framework Analysis – based on secondary analysis of the Scottish Household Survey


Access Granted

This request was for survey data at the Scotland level only. It was therefore agreed that risks to privacy were limited; it would be difficult to identify an individual based on a set of characteristics from this data as only a sample of the Scottish population had completed the survey. Also the data will be collapsed to the highest category level for the ethnicity and religion variables, again limiting the risk of identifying any one individual.

15 December 2014

*Any assessment that receives a score of 12 or more is sent to the panel for assessment. The Panel may also discuss applications for data based on other criteria warranting review. Scoring may be subsequently revised during assessment.


Data Access Panel - Terms of Reference

The Data Access Panel will support IAOs to fulfil their statutory responsibilities, specifically to make information available in-line with the Data Protection Act 1998. Through a common approvals process, the Data Access Panel aims to:

  • provide a proportionate approach to data access, ensuring that privacy is considered and balanced against the efficient use of data for research and statistics
  • support compliance with the governance aspects of the Guiding Principles for Data Linkage and the Identity Management Privacy Principles
  • maintain and foster public trust in decision making around personal data
  • allow SG data to be made available to researchers via the Scottish Informatics and Linkage Collaboration (SILC)

The Data Access Panel will meet monthly via conference call. If no applications have been received by a week in advance of the meeting, it will be cancelled. The meetings are scheduled  to take place on the 4th Monday of each month.


Secretariat will be provided by Nicola Kerr, Data, Statistics and Outcomes Division, Scottish Government. Phone: 0300 244 9452 Email: statistics.enquiries@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.



The Data Access Panel will consist of the Information Asset Owners (IAO) for each Analytical Service Division across the Scottish Government or their delegates. It will be chaired by the same IAO (or their delegate) for the period of one year to ensure consistency. It will request the attendance of an SG colleague with legal/privacy knowledge and experience either on an on-going or ad-hoc basis and request the attendance of the Branch Head who referred the application. A majority of members must be available for a meeting to go ahead and a majority of those present must agree with the decision for it to be valid.