Preprint Open Access

The 'Five Safes': a framework for planning, designing and evaluating data access solutions

Ritchie, Felix

The ‘Five Safes’ is a popular way to structure thinking about data access solutions. Originally used mainly by statistical agencies and social science academics, in recent years it has been adopted more widely across government, health organisations and private sector bodies. This paper explains the Five Safes, how the concept is used to organise and simplify decision-making, and how it helps to address concerns of different constituencies. We show how it aligns to recent regulation, anticipating the shift towards multi-dimensional data management strategies. We provide a number of practical examples as case studies for further information. We also briefly consider what issues the Five Safes does not address, and how the framework sits within a wider body of work on data access which challenges traditional data access models.

Files (302.8 kB)
Name Size
302.8 kB Download
All versions This version
Views 1,9551,955
Downloads 727727
Data volume 220.1 MB220.1 MB
Unique views 1,8341,834
Unique downloads 647647


Cite as