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What is Personal Data?
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, Personal Data is defined as data that identifies a living person and/or includes any expression of opinion about that person.
Personal data will therefore cover basic details such as name, address, telephone number, and Date of Birth, or notes and comments made about a person, and information held about that person in files.
Sensitive Personal Data
Certain data are classified as 'sensitive personal data' under the Data Protection Act, for example:
- Racial or ethnic origin
- Religious or other beliefs of a similar nature
- Physical or mental health or condition
- Sexual life
- Offences (including alleged offences)
Consent must usually be provided by the person for us to hold this sensitive data. Where we are asking you for sensitive personal data, we will always try to tell you why and how the information will be used.
Why Do We Need to Collect and Store Personal Data?
We need to collect personal data so that we can supply certain Council services, and/or to get in touch with you. We always try to make sure the information we collect is correct and isn't an invasion of your privacy.
How We Use Your Information
The Council will collect, store and use the information you provide in a manner that is compatible with the Data Protection Act. We will try to keep your information accurate and up to date and not keep it for longer than is necessary.
In some instances the law sets the length of time information has to be kept, but in most cases the Council will use its discretion to make sure that we do not keep records for longer than we need to.
Where the Council does not directly provide the service, we may need to pass your personal data onto the people who provide the service. These providers are obliged to keep your details safe and secure, and to use them only to fulfil your request. If we wish to pass your sensitive personal data on to a third party, we will usually only do so once we have obtained your consent, unless we are legally required to do so.
We will always try and keep your personal data secure, whether it is held on paper or electronically. Our privacy statement sets out our commitment to you when you access our services via the Internet.
Using Your Personal Data
We will use the information you provide for the following purposes:
- Provision of council services, including updating you on the progress of service requests you have submitted and asking for feedback
- Regulatory, Licensing and Enforcement functions, which the Council is obliged to undertake
- All financial transactions to and from the Council, including payments, grants and benefits
- Where you have agreed to this, for the purpose of consulting, informing and gauging your opinion about our products and services
- To ensure that the Council meets its statutory obligations, including those related to diversity and equal opportunity.
Joined-Up Services: Sharing Personal Data
The Council wants to be able to provide appropriate, timely and effective services. It is important to us that we co-ordinate what we do for you properly.
To help us do this, information is stored in a central database. We share basic information such as names and addresses between services within the council. This enables us to keep our information on you as up-to-date as possible and helps us improve our services to you. For example, the system will report any change of address to all the services that use the database, so you will not have to repeat it every time you phone up the Council.
Even though our systems are joined-up, we ensure that staff within the council can only access the information they need to do their job. In addition, we have a duty to protect the public funds we administer. This means we may use the information we hold to prevent and detect fraud and for any other purposes required by law.
The National Fraud Initiative (NFI)
This is the Audit Commission’s data matching exercise that tackles a broad range of fraud risks faced by the public sector. Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. The information compared is usually personal information.
The Audit Commission requires councils to participate in data matching exercises to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. Councils are required to provide particular sets of data to the Audit Commission for matching for each exercise.
For more information please go to the Audit Commission's website. The Council cannot refuse to hand over this data.