What is the Data Protection Act 1998?

It is a law, which came into force at the end of October 1998. It was introduced to protect personal information, that is information about individuals (you and me) no matter how it is processed, what it is processed for or who processes it.

How does it protect personal information about you?

By setting rules and conditions which users of personal information, such as this Council (the Act calls us controllers) must obey when obtaining and using information about you. The Act also provides you with certain rights, which the controllers must respect.

What are your rights?

  • To ask the Council if it holds information about you
  • To ask what it uses the information for
  • To be given a copy of the information
  • To be given details about the purposes for which we use the information and of other organisations to whom it is disclosed
  • To ask for incorrect data to be corrected
  • To ask us not to use personal information about you for direct marketing which is likely to cause damage or distress or to make decisions about you based on the automatic processing of the data
  • To compensation for damage or distress should these be caused by our failure to comply with certain requirements of the Act

Why do we keep personal information?

So that we can provide you with the services you require, collect the council tax, collect rent, calculate housing benefit etc. and maintain a record of the services provided.

What services do we provide?

In addition to those above we provide the following:

  • housing and housing maintenance
  • refuse collection and street cleansing
  • planning
  • licensing
  • environmental health
  • leisure services

We also carry out other administrative and democratic functions.

Do we need your consent to use information about you for any of these purposes?

In some circumstances, when it is considered necessary, the consent of the individual to the processing will be obtained.

All application forms and requests for information explain why we require this information requested and whether or not we need your consent.

How do you ask to see information about you?

If you would like to make a request for personal information held about you under the Data Protection Act 1998 please contact us. We will send you necessary form for you to complete (help is available with filling in this form should you need it). We may also need to obtain proof of identity from you.

Do you have to pay to see your information?

Yes. The council charges a fee of £10.00, as it is entitled to by the Act, to cover some of the administrative work required to find and provide the data requested.

What information will you receive?

The information we hold about you on our computer records, a description of the purposes for which we process your information, a list of others to whom it may be disclosed. We will also provide you with the information we hold about you on our unstructured manual records. Again, a description of the purposes which we process your information and a list of others to whom it may be disclosed.

How will you be given the information?

You will be supplied with the information, constituting any such personal information held, in permanent form – this may be a print out, or in a letter, or in summary form (provided that this does not require disproportionate effort on the part of the Council). Where any of the information is expressed that are not intelligible without explanation, we will provide an explanation of those terms.

What do you do if the information is incorrect?

You must write to us tell us what information is incorrect and asking for the information to be corrected.

We must tell you what we have done within 21 days of receiving your correction request. If we do not agree that the information is incorrect you can ask it to record your disagreement on your records. You can also appeal to the ICO or the court if we do not correct the information.

What do you do if you think you have not been given all of the information you asked for?

You can appeal to us through our appeal procedure or you can appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Commissioner’s Office would not generally pursue a complaint until an individual has gone back to the Council setting out what information they believe to have been withheld and their grounds for considering this to be the case. If, having done this, we have provided what appears to be an unsatisfactory response, the Commissioner’s staff will look into the matter in the individual’s behalf.

How can you prevent us from using information about you for direct marketing or stop it from using information for a purpose which could cause you harm or distress?

You should write to us asking us not to process your information for the first of these. If you think that the use could cause you damage or distress you must also write to us this time giving your reasons for asking them to stop the processing,

How will you know if we have done as you asked?

The Act requires us to respond no later than 21 days after we have received your request. If we do not do so or refuse to do as you ask you can appeal to the court.

How will you know if decisions have been made about you by automatic means?

We will tell you and ask you to write if you have any objections. If you do object we will make a new decision but this time will not do so by automatic means.

Do we provide help in understanding the information?

Yes, if you need help with the information provided, the application form or the leaflet, please let us know and we will provide someone to assist you.


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