Sharing and protecting your information
Who do we share your information with?
We use a range of organisations to either store personal information, help deliver our services to you and hear your views on a range of issues.
Where we have these arrangements, there is always an agreement in in place to make sure that the organisation complies with data protection law.
We’ll often complete a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) before we share personal information to make sure we protect your privacy and comply with the law.
Sometimes we have a legal duty to provide personal information to other organisations.
This is often because we need to give that data to courts, including if:
- we take a child into care
- the court orders that we provide the information
- someone is taken into care under mental health law.
We may also share your personal information when we feel there’s a good reason that’s more important than protecting your privacy.
This doesn’t happen often, but we may share your information:
- to find and stop crime and fraud
- if there are serious risks to the public, our staff or to other professionals
- to protect a child
- to protect adults who are thought to be at risk, for example if they are frail, confused or cannot understand what is happening to them.
For all of these reasons the risk must be serious before we can override your right to privacy.
If we’re worried about your physical safety or feel we need to take action to protect you from being harmed in other ways, we’ll discuss this with you and, if possible, get your permission to tell others about your situation before doing so.
We may still share your information if we believe the risk to others is serious enough to do so.
There may also be rare occasions when the risk to others is so great that we need to share information straight away.
If this is the case, we’ll make sure that we record what information we share and our reasons for doing so.
We’ll let you know what we’ve done and why if we think it is safe to do so.
How do we protect your information?
We’ll do what we can to make sure we hold records about you (on paper and electronically) in a secure way, and we’ll only make them available to those who have a right to see them.
Examples of our security include:
- Encryption, meaning that information is hidden so that it cannot be read without special knowledge (such as a password). This is done with a secret code or what’s called a ‘cypher’. The hidden information is said to then be ‘encrypted’
- using a different name so we can hide parts of your personal information from view. This means that someone outside of the Council could work on your information for us without ever knowing it was yours
- controlling access to systems and networks allows us to stop people who are not allowed to view your personal information from getting access to it
- Training for our staff allows us to make them aware of how to handle information and how and when to report when something goes wrong
- regular testing of our technology and ways of working including keeping up to date on the latest security updates (commonly called patches)
Where in the world is your information?
The majority of personal information is stored on systems in the UK.
But there are some occasions where your information may leave the UK either in order to get to another organisation or if it’s stored in a system outside of the EU.
We have additional protections on your information if it leaves the UK ranging from secure ways of transferring data to ensuring we have a robust contract in place with that third party.
We’ll take all practical steps to make sure your personal information is not sent to a country that is not seen as ‘safe’ either by the UK or EU governments.
If we need to send your information to an ‘unsafe’ location we’ll always seek advice from the Information Commissioner first.
How long do we keep your personal information?
There’s often a legal reason for keeping your personal information for a set period of time.
For each service, the schedule lists how long your information may be kept for. This ranges from months for some records to decades for more sensitive records, or as required by applicable law.
Where can I get advice?
If you have any worries or questions about how your personal information is handled contact our Data Protection Officer.
For independent advice about data protection, privacy and data sharing issues, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.