Law Review: I appear to have committed a criminal offence in relation to the Census

I received the Census 2011 form through the post last week. Rather than waste even more time on this I decided to use the online form – which was extremely quick and far easier than faffing with the paper version which newspapers were reporting this morning had baffled 61% of the population.

Relying on the advice given on the Census 2011 online page…

You will be able to complete your census online questionnaire any time between 4 March and 6 May 2011

I completed my Census form online before Census Day on 27th March 2011.   (The paper form does state that one should fill the form in “on the 27th or as soon as possible afterwards.”)  It would appear that this advice is also wrong…. see:   Census (England) Regulations 2010, regulation 10)

Francis Davey, a practising barrister,  I now discover, is advising today in a blog post…

Don’t return your census form early

Briefly…I won’t bore you with the minutiae of Census law…. life is just too short… save for this….

10.—(1) Every prescribed person to whom a household pack has been delivered or on whose behalf delivery was taken under these Regulations must, on the day after census day or as soon after as is reasonably practicable—

Davey states:  ONS is simply wrong to suggest that early return is OK.  (This Census is governed by the Census (England) Regulations 2010, regulation 10)

Technically, filling in the Census form early  is a criminal offence under section 8 of the Census Act 1920.  Davey notes:  “There doesn’t appear to be, in the regulations or the act, any power for the ONS to disapply these provisions or vary when the census returns may be made.”


Have I been duped by The Office of National Statistics into committing a criminal offence by the advice given on their website? It would appear so.

What a curious state of affairs…. even more curious, arguably, than arranging for Lockheed Martin, an arms manufacturer, to conduct it on behalf of the government.

Am I bothered about being prosecuted? No.  Will I be prosecuted?  Surely not!   What if I am prosecuted…along with countless others?

Hahaha…. I think it would be a most amusing morning in court.  I shall arrange for Dr Erasmus Strangelove of leading City niche boutique firm Muttley Dastardly LLP to represent me.




EXCELLENT….  This from The United States…via @Windypundit

Census Form! Entrapment! Beware!

13 thoughts on “Law Review: I appear to have committed a criminal offence in relation to the Census

  1. The fact that you can fill the form in online so early indicates that they have a lack of confidence in their platform’s ability to cope, if there was a sudden rush on the 27th. Bit like the wonderful HMRC online platform.

  2. I filled in the census form last night because I shall soon be in sunnier climes until after 6 May. I thought it was a bit odd that the electric form let me do something that the paper form said I shouldn’t. The opportunity to test the system was too good to miss, but I did not know that it could be a criminal offence.

    Thanks for reassuring me that I should not be worried.

  3. The US Patriot Act affords the US Government on request, access to all the minutiae of data (including UK census data) held by the US company Lockheed Martin which is doing the UK census… Right?

  4. Thanks but I don’t see how they can possibly purport to have done so. Last time I looked, neither Parliament nor the British Government had any power over the US Congress or its laws.

  5. My Dear Charonqc. What dire sin have you committed?

    We are likewise affected by the intrusion of the Census, however the view of this antipodean citizen is thus.

    The objective is to obtain a “snapshot” of the population at a given point in time. Since the most interesting “snapshots” are taken during times of revelry, I feel obliged, nay, compelled to complete the census after a period of boistrous merriment. since the information pack makes no mention of sobriety being a requirement.

    Duplication of information is inefficient, and since governments are forever naffing on about it, I help as much as I can by only providing data that is not already available to them. Income, property ownership, assets and any religious data are already recorded elsewhere and so I exclude it.

    Age and gender is all they get from me, they have all the rest if they care to look for it. HA!

  6. Yes, when I do my company return it is made up to a a specified date. It would not be accepted by Co’s House if I submitted it earlier than this date.

    Justice Cocklecarrot will be sentencing you later. Expect a custodial sentence.

  7. Pingback: Law Review: I appear to have committed a criminal offence in … | U.S. Justice Talk

  8. Surely – even under your interpretation – returning the form early is not an offence, it simply does not fulfil your obligation to provide a return at the correct time. So even after sending the form early you could still ask for another form or complete the online questionnaire.

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