The Five Safes framework is a set of principles which enable data services to provide safe research access to data. The framework originated from the ONS and was developed by them and other data providers in the 2010s. The framework has become best practice in data protection whilst fulfilling the demands of open science and transparency.

Five Safes was adopted more recently in 2020 by a range of other Trusted Research Environments (TREs) across the UK including Health Data Research-UK (HDR-UK) and National Institute for Health Research Design Service (NIHR).

Following the Five Safes, the UK Data Service Secure Lab provides Approved Researchers with controlled access to sensitive or confidential data, enabling researchers to access and use datasets in a secure and responsible way.


The Five Safes

Safe data: data is treated to protect any confidentiality concerns.

Safe projects: research projects are approved by data owners for the public good.

Safe people: researchers are trained and authorised to use data safely.

Safe settings: a SecureLab environment prevents unauthorised use.

Safe outputs: screened and approved outputs that are non-disclosive.