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Phased Development

Phase 1 of AD|ARC ran from June 2020 to March 2023, funded by Administrative Data Research UK and UKRI. In phase 1 the project team with the assistance of the wider partnership created AD|ARC national databases  based on the 2011 Census of Population across the UK, initiated a strategic research programme and governance framework.

Phase 2 of AD|ARC launched in March 2023, it runs to 2025 and is  core funded by Administrative Data Research UK. This funding will deliver an update of AD|ARC national databases based on the 2021 Census of Population and further develop strategic research programme within the existing governance framework.

In this video from the November 2023 ADR UK conference, Paul Caskie (Principal Investigator) and Laura Madden (Welsh Government Project Lead), reflect on AD|ARC’s governance, data, and challenges, and invite collaboration with the project:

About AD | ARC

Ethics & Responsibilities

How is the AD|ARC database being kept safe?

Keeping the de-identified data we use for research safe and secure is our top priority. Key to this is the network of trusted research environments that store AD|ARC data, which operate based on the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Five Safes framework.

The trusted research environments which store AD|ARC in Great Britain are:

• England– the ONS Secure Research Service
• Wales– the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank
• Scotland- the National Safe Havens.

In Northern Ireland a sister resource, CARS( Census Agricultural Research Study), is stored in:

• Northern Ireland– the NISRA safe research environment

The trusted research environments of the UK are secure systems that do not allow researchers to copy or remove data from the secure location or secure connection. This means that researchers do not have any data on their own computers. All the research results from AD|ARC (such as tables or graphs) are also stored in the trusted research environment. Before researchers can share any results (for example, in a report), they are checked by an independent team at ONS to protect them against any potential re-identification.

All researchers that can access AD|ARC have been accredited and trained on how to handle data safely and ethically. Researchers who wish to analyse the AD|ARC data must prove to a governance panel that their research has the potential to benefit the public.

Can researchers find mine, or my child’s records within the AD|ARC database?

No – The AD|ARC database is “de-identified” which means it doesn’t contain any information that identifies a person. For example, it doesn’t include names, addresses, dates of birth, or NHS numbers.

What if I do not want my data (or child’s data) to be included in AD|ARC?

The AD|ARC team strongly believe in the benefits of research using de-identified data, and have robust policies and security in place to prevent the misuse of individuals’ de-identified data. Nevertheless, we understand that some individuals may not want information about them used for research. If someone is concerned about having their de-identified records included in AD|ARC, they are welcome to contact us for any further information they require. Please see the section- ‘How do I contact the AD|ARC team?’

Because the AD|ARC datasets held in the trusted research environments only contain de-identified data, the AD|ARC team are unable to directly to identify you so cannot remove your records from the collection. However, if you would like to find out more about the secondary uses of de-identified data and the policies of the UK trusted research environments where AD|ARC is stored, which includes information about whether and how you can opt out of de-identified data that relates to you being used for secondary purposes, please see the sections below for each UK administration.

Data shared for the AD|ARC database is done so via a range of legal gateways which allow accredited researchers to access data for research and statistical purposes. One of the most commonly used legal gateways is the Digital Economy Act 2017, Section 64 – ‘Disclosure of information for research purposes’. It states that de-identified data held by a public authority in connection with the authority’s functions may be disclosed to another person for the purpose of research. This is, however, subject to meeting certain criteria, including the assurance that a person’s identity is not specified in any information disclosed for research.

AD|ARC data in Wales is stored in the SAIL Databank. Information on SAIL and contact information can be found by following the links below.
SAIL Databank -The Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank
SAIL Databank -FAQs

AD|ARC data in England is stored in the ONS Secure Research Service. Information on ONS Secure Research Service and contact information can be found by following the links below.
Secure Research Service -Office for National Statistics
Privacy Policy -Office for National Statistics
You have the right to tell NHS Digital if you do not want the information you provide to the NHS to be used beyond the purpose of providing healthcare.
This is known as a ‘patient objection.’ Please visit NHS Digital’s website for further details.
Your choice will not affect the health care you receive.

AD|ARC data in Scotland is stored in the National Safe Havens. Information on the National Safe Havens and contact information can be found by following the links below.
Safe Havens | NHS Research Scotland | NHS Research Scotland
A Federated Network of Safe Havens -Charter for Safe Havens in Scotland: Handling Unconsented Data from National Health Service Patient Records to Support Research and Statistics.

Northern Ireland
CARS data in Northern Ireland is stored in the National Safe Havens. Information on the NISRA safe research environment and contact information can be found by following the links below.
NISRA safe research environment

How do I contact the AD|ARC team?

If you have questions or concerns about AD|ARC, please contact the project team:

AD|ARC Project Team
Knowledge and Analytical Services
Welsh Government
Cathays Park

Email: AD|

What if I have a complaint?

If you have a complaint about the use of de-identified data by AD|ARC you have the right to complain directly to the Information Commissioners Office, the independent regulatory authority set up to uphold information rights.