During May's London Mayoral election, Full Fact pushed all the candidates to commit to providing Londoners with more reliable information by signing up to the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
These important rules ensure that:
- Official Statistics used by government and politicians are also available to members of the public;
- Politicians and journalists that use Official Statistics do so in a fair way;
- Official Statistics are independently evaluated, and their limitations are made clear.
Unfortunately, Londoners are frequently presented with poor quality information because the Mayor and the Greater London Authority (GLA) aren't bound by the Code.
For example, Full Fact found serious problems with the current Mayor's use of transport crime and reoffending figures. (Having launched in 2010, we cannot comment on the previous Mayor's use of statistics).
However yesterday members of the Assembly unanimously passed a motion asking the Mayor to consider adopting the Code.
The motion stated:
"This Assembly recognises that there should be complete transparency around any statistics used by the Mayor of London, the London Assembly and the Greater London Authority.
"This Assembly notes with concern the Mayor of London's unwillingness to adopt the UK Statistics Authority Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Given the Mayor's decision to commission a Data Dashboard for London, the Assembly now calls on the Mayor to ensure that any statistics published by the Greater London Authority on the Data Dashboard, or in any publication published by the GLA or its Functional Bodies, meet the UK Statistics Authority Code of Practice."
Assembly Members from all sides of the chamber spoke in support of the motion and on the importance of sound information if the public are to trust the political process.
We've been told by the Mayor's office that its position on the Code of Practice is currently 'under review' and they have promised to keep us abreast of any progress.
So while there is a long way to go yet in the battle to provide the capital's residents with the best quality information possible, there is at least light at the end of the tunnel.