Trusted Research Environments

Secure Research Service,

The serviceThe ONS Secure Research Service (SRS) gives accredited or approved researchers secure access to de-identified, unpublished data for research projects in the public interest.
AdvantagesThe SRS is an access point for all data held within ONS for statistical purposes, where there is also agreement to share the data for research (some datasets are UK-wide, other are GB, England and Wales or England only).
ConditionsOnly de-identified data is made available in the SRS. Linkage on identifiable data can only be done by processors accredited under the Digital Economy Act (DEA) for the preparation of data (i.e. the ability to receive data for matching, linking and de-identification). Projects must go through the Research Accreditation Panel (RAP) before data can be accessed.
Data access chargesONS do not charge for access to the SRS. ADR UK’s investment has enabled significant expansion of the service, and for the service to remain free at the point of use.
Data access pointsData in the SRS can be accessed at ONS offices (Newport, Titchfield and London), SRS safe rooms available in National Records Scotland (Glasgow) and NISRA (Belfast) and via the SafePod Network. ONS will also be making some SRS data – dependent on data owner agreement – available to researchers via secure remote access through the Assured Organisation Connectivity (AOC) scheme.
Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)The ONS SRS physical secure setting has been closed until further notice, but remote access is available. Access to the SRS from home is possible, providing the project and researcher organisation meet necessary criteria and there is data owner approval.

ADR Northern Ireland

The serviceThe Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) allows researchers safe access to project specific de-identified data in a secure environment to carry out secondary data analysis. NISRA hosts the Trusted Third Party for ADR Northern Ireland.
AdvantagesProject specific de-identified data can be accessed by accredited researchers through NISRA. The ADR NI Data Prospectus contains data from across Northern Ireland government departments.
ConditionsAdministrative datasets are accessed via direct application to NISRA Research Support Unit (RSU). Health and Social Care (HSC) data is accessed via a different route, via application to the HSC Honest Broker Service. Distinct linkages can be made between HSC data and data from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) on application to the NISRA Research Support Unit (RSU).
Data access chargesData access charges for the NISRA Secure Environment are currently covered by ADR UK funding.
Data access pointsData is accessible via the NISRA Secure Environment Belfast.
Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)The secure research room in Colby House closed on 14 October in response to recent local coronavirus restrictions. This decision will be reviewed four weeks after the closure date. 

    Research Data Scotland,
    ADR Scotland

    The serviceA wide range of de-identified administrative datasets held in the National Safe Haven (NSH) are made available for research through the electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS), whilst Research Data Scotland (RDS) currently offers safe, secure and cost-effective access to data for research in response to the Covid-19 epidemic.
    AdvantageseDRIS facilitates and supports the majority of research projects using administrative data in Scotland. Research Data Scotland seeks to streamline and improve the process for both data controllers and researchers.
    ConditionsCurrently, gaining access to administrative data in Scotland involves a number of steps, including meeting certain essential criteria. The Researcher Handbook published by ADR Scotland, updated in 2021, provides further information about data access.
    Data access chargesData access charges are not currently covered by ADR UK funding, although the feasibility of doing this for secondary data analysis calls is being explored to promote interest in newly available datasets. For more information about access charges, please see the eDRIS web page.
    Data access pointsAll data held in the NSH is accessible via safe settings in Bioquarter (Edinburgh) and in other centres around the UK including in Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews and Glasgow. Some data controllers using the NSH allow other arrangements for accessing data, subject to data access agreements.
    Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)

    All safe settings are closed until further notice. Some data controllers are allowing data to be accessed from home during this period, subject to certain to criteria being met and new data access agreements with the researcher.

    As a result of ADR Scotland’s response to Covid-19 and establishment of the Covid Research Data Service, the partnership has worked on the acceleration of RDS. A baseline RDS service has been developed through the creation of a website providing access to a researcher support service, access to data, information governance and a rich analytical environment, building on the current data access and information governance landscape. The data access processes for this service will follow different routes for health and non-health data.

      SAIL Databank,
      ADR Wales

      The serviceSAIL Databank gives researchers secure remote access to datasets with billions of anonymised person-based population, health and social care data records. SAIL utilises the services of a Trusted Third Party (TTP) to facilitate data linkage via personal identifiers. There are no personal identifiers held within SAIL.
      AdvantagesData submitted to the TTP with identifiers allows data to be linked automatically to all other data holdings related to those individuals within SAIL (includes: a range of health data, including hospital and GP data; CAFCASS data; educational outcomes data; energy data; and local authority held data, such as that relating to council tax, homelessness and looked after children).
      ConditionsIf data owners are not willing to submit data with personal identifiers to the TTP, data cannot be linked to other datasets and remains a standalone asset. The majority of data already held within SAIL relates to the population of Wales, so onward linkage of other data is limited.
      Data access
      Data access charges for SAIL are not currently covered by ADR UK funding, although the feasibility of doing this for secondary data analysis calls is being explored to promote interest in newly available datasets. For more information about access charges, please see the SAIL website.
      Data access pointsSecure remote access to data is available within the SAIL Gateway. This is subject to researcher verification, a data access agreement and physical and procedural controls.  Researchers can also access the SAIL Gateway through the SafePod Network.
      Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)SAIL remote access services are operating as usual.
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