National Safe Haven Services

The National Safe Haven is one of a number of trusted research environments in Scotland with IT infrastructure provided by EPCC

A Trusted Research Environment


The National Safe Haven is one of a number of trusted research environments in Scotland with IT infrastructure provided by EPCC. For specific details on the software available, licencing requirements and how to get data into and out of the National Safe Haven, please click here.

Remote access to the National Safe Haven
In some cases, data controllers may allow the researchers remote access to the data. This will be via a VPN (virtual private network). To remotely access the safe haven there is a 2 factor authentication process, the first part of which will be receipt of an access code via your mobile phone. For more details on remote access please contact the eDRIS support team 

Accessing the National Safe Haven via safe settings
A data controller may require that their data is only accessed through a secure access point to ensure data security. A secure access point is a dedicated computer in a physically secure area where no external devices can be used or connected. The secure access point does not connect to the internet nor can it be accessed remotely. If you are working in a secure access point, you will be given a username and password for your linked data files.
The location of the secure access points may depend on the data you wish to access. We have secure access points at our offices in the BioQuarter at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and at selected universities across Scotland. You must book a timeslot to work on your data files with your research co-ordinator who will check availability and arrange access.

Data hosting services
eDRIS can arrange hosting of other data within the National Safe Haven secure environment. You will need to provide as a minimum, evidence that appropriate approvals have been obtained and funding is available.

Depending on the data to be hosted there may be a variety of approvals required including but not limited to:

  • Statistics PBPP
  • Local Authority
  • Approval by a single Scottish Health Board
  • Data Controller of UK Audit dataset

This will be provided as either an approval letter or a Data Sharing Agreement clearly stating the Data Controller is willing to share the data with the researcher.

Evidence will need to be provided that there is sufficient funding to pay for the safe haven support which is charged under a “Compute & Disclosure” annual fee (see eDRIS pricing guide for details). Note that for some studies (e.g. SCADR/ DSLS / UDBC) it is sufficient to provide evidence that the organisation is willing to support the study.

Next steps
Before agreeing to host the data, an assessment will be made that it is data that can be reasonably hosted in the national safe haven. Studies which the national safe haven may not wish to host include but are not limited to those where the data are unfeasibly large and those which require unusual software that can’t easily be installed. 
If the data is suitable to be hosted, then the following will need to be provided:

  • a data processing agreement or eDRIS Customer Contract between the researcher’s employing institution and PHS 
  • evidence of current IG training for all researchers accessing the data
  • signed eDRIS user agreements for all researchers accessing the data

Please note that as a condition of hosting the data eDRIS will perform Statistical Disclosure Control (SDC) on any outputs prior to release (see our guide for users and the PHS SDC protocol). To discuss your hosting requirements in more detail please contact

Indexing services
Indexing is the process of probability matching available personal identifiers to a population spine and returning an anonymised unique person identifier specific to the project. For health data where PHS is the data controller eDRIS can perform the indexing, otherwise indexing services are provided by trusted third party indexing services from National Records Scotland (NRS) Indexing Team or PHS CHI Linkage (CHILi) Team as required.  
If you would like to discuss our indexing services in more detail, please contact

National Safe Haven User Support
eDRIS provides a range of research support to users of the National Safe Haven which generally falls into two categories: user support and analytical support. 

User support
We provide a range of technical support for users of the national safe haven including:

  • Login help and password resets
  • National Safe Haven performance issues
  • Data storage issues
  • Providing advanced notice of planned maintenance
  • Overseeing researcher visits to the safe settings rooms at eDRIS
  • Other day to day support and guidance

Analytical support
Our analyst team have extensive experience in data analysis and this can be used to help you analyse your data. To discuss details of the analytical support available please contact