COVID-19 statistics undertaken by the National Records of Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1) A list of decisions relating to the compilation, analysis or publication of coronavirus/Covid-19 statistics undertaken by the National Records of Scotland and signed off by the First Minister's office between January 1, 2020, to date.

2) Please include the nature of the decision, the date of the sign off by the First Minister's office, and a copy of the correspondence between the First Minister's office and the National Records of Scotland in which the sign off decision is intimated.


National Records of Scotland (NRS) are a non-ministerial department of the devolved Scottish Administration and do not require sign-off by ministers for statistics undertaken and published. The NRS Statistics Head of Profession has authority for deciding on methods, standards and procedures, content and timing of release of official statistics. This is compliant with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

NRS routinely inform ministers and other key stakeholders of plans for publication, for information purposes only, not to receive sign-off. Feedback may be sought to develop statistical publications, to ensure that the product meets demand and is of high value.

On one occasion, in July 2020, NRS submitted to ministers a plan to reduce the frequency of the COVID-19 deaths publication to monthly rather than weekly (please find a copy attached as Annex A). However, the First Minister's office requested that weekly publication of these statistics would continue at least until schools returned in mid-August 2020, as these statistics formed an important basis for the decision making at the time. NRS took on board this feedback and modified their plans (copy of email chain attached as Annex B) although it is worth noting that this was their decision to make.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to the information you have requested, and some third party personal information has therefore been redacted.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202100207417 - Information Released - Annex A
FOI - 202100207417 - Information Released - Annex B


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top