Data Protection and requesting access to your personal information
The Data Protection Act 1998 is designed to help protect personal data. It sets out rules and conditions which Gloucestershire County Council must follow when collecting and using this data. It aims to ensure that people know where their data is held, what it is used for and who it is shared with.
The Data Protection Act allows you to access your personal information - a request for your personal information is known as a subject access request.
What's in my social care records?
If social workers have had an involvement in your life, did you know that there may be written information about you in your records? The information held within files can often hold many answers to a person's past. Go to our "What's in my social care records?" web page which explains the steps to follow if you want to get a copy of the information we hold about you. Alternatively, the steps are set out below.
How do I ask to see information about me?
You must provide your name, address, date of birth, and details of the information you require. Please provide as much information as you can to help us locate the data such as previous addresses, names of social workers/contacts within Gloucestershire County Council. You must also provide proof of identification. This may be:
- a copy of your birth certificate or
- a copy of your passport or
- a copy of your driving licence or
- a copy of 2 different utility bills and/or bank statements from within the past 3 months or
- verification by a Council Officer who has been working with you
- proof of change of name
Documents can be uploaded when completing the online form. Click here for instructions on how to upload files when submitting a request for information. Upload file for customers [2Mb]
Once you have your proof of identity ready you can complete the online form to request information.
Alternatively, you can print out and complete the Subject Access Request form [58kb]. Please return it to: Gloucestershire County Council, Ground Floor Block 2/3, Shire Hall, Westgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 2TG, United Kingdom.
Do I have to pay to access my personal information?
Gloucestershire County Council charges a £10 fee for each Subject Access Request (each person you are asking for information on) and £50 for access to Health records (e.g. Occupational Health records). If you would like to pay by Debit/Credit card please ring 01452 324000 and we will process your application, alternatively you can pay at the Council Offices, Shire Hall, Westgate Street, Gloucester or send a cheque with your application for £10 or £50 per person made payable to "Gloucestershire County Council".
Can someone else make the request for me?
You can authorise someone to make the request for you - this could be a parent, solicitor or another adult. You must provide us with written authorisation for them to do this, along with a copy of yours and their ID.
Where a person is not able to understand or exercise their rights because they are too young (under 12) or suffer from a severe mental impairment then access requests may be made by parents or other persons who are legally able to act on their behalf. You must provide proof of this, for example by sending us proof of parental responsibility or a copy of correspondence confirming power of attorney.
Can I request information for or about someone else?
Your child's records?
As a parent or guardian you can request access to school records until your child is 18 years old. This should be done directly to the school or college that your child attends. You may be charged photocopying costs. For information other than school records, if your child is over the age of 12, and they understand what access to their information means, they must provide consent for their information to be disclosed. If your child is under 12 you will need to prove parental responsibility.
Another adult's records
You must have their written consent or a power of attorney:
- Written consent - You must provide us with the written authorisation for you to make the request on their behalf, along with the fee and a copy of yours and their ID.
- Lasting Power of Attorney - If you have a Lasting Power of Attorney (PoA) for another adult and are making a request on behalf of that person, you need to provide us with a copy of the PoA along with your request. We cannot process your request until we have received the PoA, the fee and all relevant proofs of identification.
Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney, which cover different decisions you can make and information you can access for that person:
- Health and Welfare - this allows you to receive information about things like their daily routine (e.g. eating and clothes), medical care, moving them into a care home, and refusing life-sustaining treatment.
- Property and financial affairs - this allows you to receive information relating to paying their bills, collecting their benefits, or selling their home, not information about their welfare or social care.
The type of PoA will affect the amount of information we are able to release to you.
I am a child; can I get access to my files?
- You can request access to your own information if you are 12 or older and/or able to understand the impact of accessing your information.
- You can agree for someone else to access your information.
- If you are under 12 and/or not able to fully understand the process your parents can access your information on your behalf.
If your parent or other person with parental responsibility is making the request on your behalf, the Council will not give information to them that:
- You gave to us knowing that it would not be shared with them.
- You gave as a result of any examination or investigation knowing that it would not be shared.
I have requested to see my personal information - what happens next?
By law we must provide you with a copy of your information within 40 days of receipt of your written request, all relevant identifications and fee. However, we will provide you with your information as soon as possible. We will try to keep you updated on the progress of your request and inform you of any delays that may occur. If we do not hold the information you have requested we will inform you as soon as possible.
If there is not enough information to complete the request or Gloucestershire County Council has not received the correct documentation you will be sent a request for the appropriate documents.
What information will I receive?
You will be given a paper copy of the information. You can either receive this information through the post or you can arrange to come to the Council's main reception at Shire Hall in Gloucester to pick it up. In some circumstances you may wish to view your file with a member of staff for support.
You are entitled to:
- copies of information that the Council holds about you on both computer and paper records
- a description of the purposes for which the Council uses your information
- a list of others who may have seen the information (if this is not obvious from the information provided)
If you provided us with an email address we will try to send you the information via secure email; however, if this is not possible we will post it to an address provided. You can also arrange to come to the Council's main reception at Shire Hall in Gloucester to pick it up. In some circumstances you may wish to view your file with a member of staff for support.
Will I be able to see all the information held on me?
There are legal reasons under the Data Protection Act that mean we may withhold some information from your file. These are known as exemptions. We will tell you if any information has been taken out of the copy provided to you and why. You can look at a full list of the exemptions by viewing the Data Protection Act 1998. There may be other reasons why some information is not released to you, we will, in most cases, explain these reasons to you.
What if I think the information is wrong?
If you think any information recorded about you is wrong, you should inform a member of staff or tell the Council straight away. If the Council does not agree that the information is incorrect, you can ask to record your disagreement on your records. You can also appeal to the Information Commissioner if the Council does not correct the information.
What do I do if I think I have not been given all of the information I asked for or if the Council has breached the Act?
You can Contact the Information Management Service, appeal to the Council through its Information Compliance Complaints Procedure (2012) [94kb] or you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. The Commissioner's staff will look into the matter on your behalf.
Who is the Information Commissioner?
The Information Commissioner enforces and oversees the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The Commissioner is a UK independent supervisory authority, which reports directly to the UK Parliament and has both an international and national role. For more information on the Commissioner and the Act visit the Information Commissioner's Office
We have recently received a ClearMark award for access to records for care leavers. www.careleavers.com