How to look for Government datasets

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

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We do not provide copies of online records – please download to view

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

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This guide is designed to help users locate datasets from The National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) collection, in Discovery, our catalogue.

The National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) collection preserves and provides online access to archived digital datasets and documents from UK central government departments. NDAD spans 40 years of recent history, with the earliest available dataset dating back to about 1963.

By interrogating the NDAD datasets yourself, you can analyse information and statistics gathered from a wide variety of departments and subjects. For example, health, education, housing, crime and nature, amongst others.

Further information about the background of the NDAD service can be found on our archiving datasets page.

What records can I see online?

You can download the data tables and the accompanying explanatory documentation in a zip file.

The datasets are organised into series. At series level, the catalogue gives general information about how and why the government collected the data.

Datasets for downloading are at the next level down, along with a digitised collection of the accompanying documents (mostly paper), we received from the transferring government department.

These could include examples of survey forms, user manuals, code books, associated policy documents, etc., and are a useful aid to understanding the data in the datasets tables.

It is advisable to read the dataset documentation, always the last piece number in each series, before accessing the datasets themselves as this can provide very useful background to the data files.

You can access the data using the chart below. Click on and download the ‘dataset documentation’ in the right-hand column, and then access the data itself by clicking on the link in the series-level ‘National Archives ref.’ column, and using the ‘Browse by hierarchy’ option to access the datasets.

What’s available?

Department Series title NDAD ref. National Archives ref. Dataset documentation
Agricultural Departments Agricultural and Horticultural Census CRDA/4 MAF 408 MAF 408/21
Bovine TB CRDA/56 MAF 430 MAF 430/4
Coast Protection Survey of England CRDA/10 MAF 406 MAF 406/6
Internal Draining Board Database CRDA/9 MAF 407 MAF 407/4
British Railways Board British Rail Electronically Archived Documents CRDA/37 AN 186 AN 186/3
Coal Authority Mining Reports Systems CRDA/16 KD 2 KD 2/28
Countryside Agencies Local Heritage Initiative project directory CRDA/67 CA 1 CA 1/2
Vital Villages [and Rural Communities Best Practice] database CRDA/68 CA 2 CA 2/2
Rural Development Commission Survey of Rural Services CRDA/30 D 16 D 16/5
Millennium Commission Millennium Commission: Awards Scheme Database (AMIS) CRDA/65 MM 3 MM 3/2
Millennium Commission: Grants Database (PROFESA) CRDA/66 MM 4 MM 4/2
Department for Culture, Media and Sport National Lottery Awards Database CRDA/39 PF 1 PF 1/3
Department of Trade and Industry (1983-2007) Enemy Property Claims Assessment Panel (EPCAP) CRDA/42 NK 1 NK 1/3
Home Leisure Accident Surveillance Systems CRDA/58 NK 3 NK 3/2
Education Departments Grant Maintained Schools Database CRDA/36 ED 278 ED 278/2
Schools’ Census (Form 7) CRDA/13 ED 267 ED 267/86
ED 267/86A
ED 267/86B
ED 267/86C
Department of Education and Employment Learning Partnerships CRDA/53 NV 4 NV 4/2
Learning and Training at Work CRDA/52 NV 3 NV 3/5
Register of Educational Establishments CRDA/47 NV 2 NV 2/3
English Heritage /
Works Departments
Heritage Protection datasets CRDA/64 WORK 93 WORK 93/3
Environment Agency Bathing Water Directive database CRDA/74 RD 1 RD 1/2
Department of Environment and successors Countryside Information System CRDA/46 AT 73 AT 73/11
English House Condition Survey CRDA/51 AT 76 AT 76/13A
AT 76/13B
House Building Inquiry CRDA/54 AT 86 AT 86/2
Housing Data: Renovation Grants and Group Repair Schemes Activity CRDA/29 AT 68 AT 68/2
State of the Cities Database CRDA/76 AT 104 AT 104/83
Works Departments Deeds Registry Application CRDA/49 WORK 88 WORK 88/2
Forestry Commission National Inventory of Woodland and Trees CRDA/3 F 45 F 45/9
Health Departments
Department of Health (1988 – present)
1994 General Household Survey: Follow-up Survey of the Health of People aged 65 and over CRDA/28 JA 6 JA 6/2
Anatomy Office – Anatomy dataset CRDA/21 JA 3 JA 3/3
General Medical Practitioners Workload Survey CRDA/63 JA 9 JA 9/2
Public Health Common Dataset CRDA/24 JA 5 JA 5/120
Department of Health and Social Security and related bodies AIDS Advertising Evaluation CRDA/35 BN 97 BN 97/2
Children’s Difficulties on Starting Infant School CRDA/33 BN 94 BN 94/2
Children in care CRDA/38 BN 98 BN 98/16
Elderly and their Medicines CRDA/34 BN 96 BN 96/2
Reasons for Retirement CRDA/27 BN 93 BN 93/2
Survey of Abortion Patients for the Committee on the Working of the Abortion Act CRDA/32 BN 95 BN 95/4
United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Single Professional Register and Index of Training (SPRINT-UK) CRDA/50 KN 2 KN 2/2
HM Revenue & Customs and predecessors Beer duty system CRDA/19 CUST 134 CUST 134/3
Home Office British Crime Survey CRDA/2 HO 400 HO 400/11
Public Record Office Archive Inspection Services Unit: Archival Mapping of Places of Deposit in England and Wales: Projects CRDA/60 PRO 71 PRO 71/4
Conservation Database CRDA/71 PRO 80 PRO 80/9
Presentations under the Public Records Act 1958, s.3(6) CRDA/59 PRO 72 PRO 72/2
Records Accessions Registers CRDA/62 PRO 79 PRO 79/2
Lord Chancellor’s Department Judge Advocate General’s Office case index system CRDA/23 LCO 60 LCO 60/5
The Court Service and Successors Judicial Statistics CRDA/8 LE 1 LE 1/8
Metropolitan Police Crime Statistics System (ME) CRDA/1 MEPO 36 MEPO 36/10
Museums and Galleries Commission Digest of Museum Statistics (DOMUS) CRDA/12 EB 6 EB 6/4
Nature Conservation Departments Ancient Woodland Inventory CRDA/43 FT 43 FT 43/2A
FT 43/2B
British Bats CRDA/17 FT 40 FT 40/2
Joint Nature Conservation Committee International Designations – European database (‘Natura 2000′) CRDA/57 KR 8 KR 8/12
Ramsar Wetlands Sites Data CRDA/75 KR 9 KR 9/6
Benefits Agency Earnings Top-up Scheme CRDA/48 NB 5 NB 5/2
Statistical Departments Company Accounts Analysis CRDA/41 RG 81 RG 81/2
Consumer and Retail Prices Index CRDA/61 RG 77 RG 77/4
Historic Mortality Data Files CRDA/20 RG 69 RG 69/3
Primary Births CRDA/5 RG 71 RG 71/5
Commission for the New Towns and Successors English Sites Database CRDA/69 FJ 7 FJ 7/2
House Building Inquiry CRDA/54 AT 86 AT 86/2
Housing Data: Renovation Grants and Group Repair Schemes Activity CRDA/29 AT 68 AT 68/2
Local Government Boundary Commission for England Humberside: study of attitudes and preferences 1989 – 1990 CRDA/72 AX 14 AX 14/2
Department of Transport (1976 – 1998) Survey of Heavy Goods Vehicles CRDA/14 LM 1 LM 1/33
Welsh Office and the Wales Office Coastal Survey – Wales CRDA/6 BD 80 BD 80/2
Survey of Contaminated Land in Wales CRDA/15 BD 83 BD 83/2

Other ways to find NDAD Datasets

  • You can search for a particular dataset by entering a keyword, along with the term ‘dataset’ in the Discovery search box. For example, ‘Crime AND dataset’. You can also refine your search by topic or by entering a date range
  • Alternatively, you may wish to browse through details of the whole collection. Please note that the list returned by Discovery is not in any particular order
  • You can also search for the full catalogue reference, for example, AT 68

How do I find and download records?

From the above list, click on the dataset series you are interested in (for example, ED 267) and then click on ‘browse’.

Click on 'browse' to find files within ED 267






Alternatively, enter a reference into the Discovery search box…

datasets 3






…then click on the description of the record series.

datasets 4

You will then see the series description (as in first image above) and you can click on ‘browse’.

In ‘browse view’ the left-hand side shows the general information about the dataset. The right-hand side scrolls independently to particular instances of the dataset. In this example the Schools Census was taken annually, and there is one set of data for each year.

datasets 8

Each dataset has a specific reference (ED 267/ followed by a number) – the dataset for 1977 has the reference ED 267/3. To see more information about a specific dataset, click on ‘details’

datasets 7

From here you can download the dataset.

In the box that appears, select ‘save’ and choose what you want to name the zip file and where you wish to save it. When the file is saved on your computer, locate and open the folder.

Technical requirements

As the datasets are delivered as zip files you will need a program capable of unzipping these files. Most modern Microsoft Windows operating systems will automatically unzip files when you download them. However, Windows 95/98/2000 does not have built in zip file support. It is therefore necessary to use third party software. If you are unable to unzip the files there are numerous programs available which can do so, such as: PentaZip, PicoZip, PKZip, PowerArchiver, StuffIt and WinZip. Most programs offer a 30-day limited trial period during which you can download and try the utility for free.

To download the .csv files within a dataset, you will need to have a spreadsheet viewer installed on your computer.

What records can I find at The National Archives?

  • All the available datasets in the NDAD collection can be downloaded
  • Other government datasets can be downloaded from government websites in the UK Government Web Archive

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

  • The UK Data Archive has government datasets as part of its collection of economic and social science data
  • Search our catalogue, and refine your results using the filters, to find datasets that aren’t part of NDAD

What other resources will help me find information?

  • The UK Government Web Archive has snapshots of the original NDAD website which have information about the early days of NDAD, up to its closure in 2010
  • Please note that it is not possible to download actual datasets from the archived NDAD websites