2011 Census

This is the questionnaire for the 2011 census:

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Completion of all the unnecessary and intrusive questions is compulsory with a possible fine of £1000 for refusal. Just that threat of a fine on it's own is enough to make me want to refuse, but if you need any further incentive, just have a look at those questions about you employment and qualifications.

According to the Office of National Statistics:

We have undertaken a census every 10 years from 1801, with the exception of 1941, to create a high resolution snapshot of the people living in England and Wales. Census data is compiled and used to plan the delivery of our public services, thus, the funding received by the NHS, schools and local authorities is directly linked to the number of people deemed to be living in a certain place on census day.

I don't see how any of those employment questions are relevant to this. However, as the government have got nothing to offer that I want to use, I don't see any reason to fill any of this form in. I don't use NHS, schools and local authorities. My failure to complete the census forms would have no effect whatsoever on their "delivery of services".

To this end I've been looking at the consequences of refusing to fill in the forms. This data is also available at the ONS website. Here are some extracts:

Underlying Policy


It is particularly important, in pursuing a non-compliance policy, that prosecutions brought to court are not lost as this would:

• attract adverse publicity;
• let the field staff down; and
• give exactly the opposite message to that which ONS is trying to promote.

Therefore ONS follows a policy of only prosecuting in cases where it has obtained clear and sufficient evidence of a refusal that more or less guarantees success in the courts. Measured by this yardstick, the 2001 Census non-compliance exercise may be deemed to be a success since only 1 out of the 38 cases heard to date has been dismissed.

Field Procedures

Any refusal to complete a form, encountered by field officers was reported to Census HQ and, if there was clear and sufficient documentary evidence of a refusal, and the refusal persisted, consideration was given to a prosecution. The Registrar General gave particular attention to those reported cases where refusals were accompanied by acts of intimidation towards field staff.
Field staff were given specific instructions on the necessary procedures for attempting to conduct Interviews Under Caution under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Details of 6 per cent of the 1,500 or so fully reported incidents of refusal were passed on to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Solicitors for consideration of legal action. A further 4,600 or so incidences of alleged refusal were reported but documentary evidence was insufficient to support prosecution.

HQ Procedures

All reported cases of refusal were scrutinised to assess whether or not legal action should be pursued.
A dedicated unit, under the control of the Head of Legislation Branch, was set up to deal with Non-Compliance issues. A customised data base was created to log refusal reports received from the field, to assist in the assessment of cases and to monitor actions.
Prosecutions were sought on a case-by-case basis, where there was clear evidence of a refusal to return a completed Census form. The criteria for Non-Compliance Unit dropping potential cases were decided by the Legislation Project Manager, following the practise in previous censuses and taking account of more recent legal advice. The main reasons for dropping cases included:

• insufficient confirmation of householder's name (in cases, for example, where no contact had been made and evidence from other sources of information - such as the Electoral Register - was lacking);
• responsibility for making a return had not been established;
• possible irregularities in field procedures;
• evidence of mitigating personal circumstances, such as age or infirmity of the householder or in cases of bereavement;
• claims that forms had been posted back which could not be readily verified because of postal difficulties; and
• cases relating to a second home or holiday accommodation.

It seems the Labour government who came up with the much more detailed 2011 census also wanted to create a "non compliance unit", or census police, to target and prosecute those who refused to fill in the forms. I can't find any information to suggest weather this will go ahead.

It seems that during the previous census 1.5million homes did not complete the forms in their entirety.

In 2001, the ONS has admitted that it had to "impute" information for 6.1 per cent of households who failed to fill in the forms - more than 1.5million families.
It seems that these 1.5 million families refused to fill in certain questions rather than the whole form, as far as I can tell. However, as stated above, there were only 38 cases brought before the courts and one was dismissed on a technicality. This because the ONS were so worried about being seen to lose cases, they only picked the few dead certs.

This was the result:

The 38 successful prosecutions resulted in fines ranging from £35-£500 plus costs in most cases. In two instances a particular Magistrate granted a conditional discharge with no costs. In one case in which a defence based on infringement of human rights was cited, the costs awarded against the defendant amounted to £2,500. In another case, widely reported in the press, the defendant refused to pay his fine and costs and was subsequently imprisoned for contempt of court. In a further case, after prosecution, the defendant successfully appealed against the decision of the court on the grounds that he had been prosecuted under an incorrect name (though it had been the name given at the time of the Census). The second prosecution was dropped when an acceptable return was subsequently made.
So punishment ranged from a conditional discharge to imprisonment.

It seems that these cases were brought before the courts because of a flat refusal to fill in the forms. Maybe the way forward is to just return a blank form. It appears that those who returned incomplete forms were not punished.

I haven't decided what form my rebellion will take. Only that there will be one. There is time to form a battle plan yet.

You may also want to read this. The Waspsnest knows, Who gets your information?

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