Your personal information and privacy

What is personal information?

Your personal information is anything that can identify you. This can include things that, when put together with other information, can then tell someone who you are. For example, this could be your name and contact details like an e-mail address, a photograph, or an address and a description of what you look like.

Special personal information

The Data Protection Act says that some personal information is ‘special personal data’. Special personal data is data about you that the Data Protection Act says is more sensitive, so it needs to be looked after even more carefully.

The special personal data types are:

  • racial or ethnic data,
  • political opinions,
  • religious or philosophical beliefs,
  • trade union membership,
  • health data,
  • sex life,
  • sexual orientation,
  • genetic information (like your DNA) and
  • biometric information (like your fingerprint).

Why do we need your personal information?

We need to collect and hold information about you so we can:

  • offer help and services to you and others
  • help prove who you are to help us offer some help and services
  • contact you by post, email or telephone
  • know your needs to help us support you
  • understand what we can do for you and let you know of other services that could help you
  • find out how you feel about our services
  • update the information we hold about you
  • help us to know how we are doing and what else we can do to help people
  • prevent and spot crime
  • help us do things we have to do by law
  • make sure we are looking after your data how we should by law.

Without the information we have about you or that you give us, we may not be able to help you.

The lawful collection and use of personal information

By law, we offer services to people and some of these services are to do with crime and law enforcement. When we must do something for law enforcement, we must collect and use your personal information if it is needed. In many cases you have to give us your personal information in order to have a service, such as to claim housing benefits.

Sometimes we will ask for or use personal information for other reasons, for example where we:-

  • are dealing with a task in the public interest or need to use a power that we have by law.
  • need to act in the Council’s best interests, but only when this does not go against your personal data rights.
  • need to share personal data in order to protect you or someone else from harm. There are rare times when the risk to someone is so high that we need to share information right away. If this happens, we’ll make sure that we keep a record of what information we shared and why. When we think it is safe to let you know what we have done and why, we will do so.

If we are asking for the personal information for any other reason, we will always only do so if you say we can.

Privacy notices

We write privacy notices for each of our services that might use your personal data. These will tell you what personal information we collect, why we collect it, what we do with it and lots of other information.

When contractors or partners provide council services

When we work with other groups, such as companies or organisations, to help run some services, we will make sure that we are that they will look after any personal information we give them. We will do this by writing contracts or data-sharing agreements where they will promise to look after the personal data.

You can find out what information is shared with other groups in our privacy notices.

How long can we keep your personal information?

Often, there is a legal reason for keeping your personal information for a set length of time, and we will let you know about this when we collect your personal information.

You can find out how long we hold onto your personal information in our retention policy schedule. 

We hold some information for only a few days, but other information for a lot longer. We will only hold onto your personal data if we have a legal reason to do so.