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The BBC's Jane Warr
"Anyone failing to return their form could face a fine up to 1,000"
 real 56k

Len Cook, General Registrar for England and Wales
"There's a whole lot of reasons that people will not have sent there forms back"
 real 28k

Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Census workers chase missing forms
Census forms
Householders can be fined 1000 for not returning forms
More than a fifth of census forms have not been returned as house-to-house visits to collect questionnaires begin.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says about 17.5m forms from England and Wales have been sent back - 76.9% of the number issued.

David Bradbury, a spokesman for the ONS, said that many more questionnaires were still being processed by Royal Mail, and urged anyone who had not already posted their forms to send them back immediately.

Thousands of census staff have started visiting those who have not returned their forms which should have been filled in on 29 April, the official "census day".

Forms returned
Sheffield: 82%
East Anglia: 81%
North east England: 80%
Yorks and Lincs: 80%
Northern Home Counties: 76%
Wales: 76%
Bradford and Leeds: 75%
Birmingham: 74%
East Midlands: 74%
Greater Manchester: 73%
Scotland: 72%
West Midlands: 72%
South 72%
South West: 72%
North West: 71%
Liverpool: 59%
Greater London: 58%
Householders face a fine of up to 1,000 for not returning the forms.

It is the first year people have been able to return their census forms by post and Mr Bradbury called the scheme "a resounding success".

Graham Jones, director of the census in England and Wales, added: "It is vitally important that we get all the census forms back.

"We need a complete picture of the nation so that public spending and services can be planned properly over the next ten years.

"So, if you haven't filled in your form yet please fill it in now and either post it back or we will call to collect it."

Sheffield quick off mark

The General Register Office for Scotland, which deals with the census north of the border, said 72% of forms had been returned by Tuesday.

A spokesman told BBC News Online that of the 2.3 million forms issued in Scotland, 1.7 million were back, with an estimated half a million in the postal system.

Latest figures for England and Wales suggest householders in Greater London have shown the most apathy towards the census, with only 58% of forms returned.

And the people of Sheffield have achieved the highest success rate with 82% of forms in already.

In Scotland, Orkney and Shetland top the list of returns, with 85% and 87% respectively.

Renfrewshire comes bottom with 52% of forms sent back.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency said over 80% of the 650,000 forms sent out had been returned.

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Census forms 'confusing'
10 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Census data stranger than fiction
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