Somerset Council is committed to protecting your privacy when you use our services. The Privacy Notice below explains how we use information about you and how we protect your privacy.
We have a Data Protection Officer who makes sure we respect your rights and follow the law. If you have any concerns or questions about how we look after your personal information, please contact the Data Protection Officer at DPO@somerset.gov.uk or by calling 0300 123 2244 and asking to speak to the Data Protection Officer.
Why we use personal information
Do you know what personal information is?
Personal information can be anything that identifies and relates to a living person. This can include information that, when put together with other information, can then identify a person. For example, this could be your name and contact details.
Did you know that some of your personal information might be 'special'?
Some information is 'special' and needs more protection due to its sensitivity. It's often information you would not want widely known and is very personal to you. This is likely to include anything that can reveal your:
- sexuality and sexual health;
- religious or philosophical beliefs;
- physical or mental health;
- trade union membership;
- political opinion;
- genetic/biometric data;
- criminal history.
Why do we need your personal information?
We may need to use some information about you to:
- deliver services and support to you;
- manage those services we provide to you;
- train and manage the employment of our workers who deliver those services;
- help investigate any worries or complaints you have about your services;
- keep track of spending on services;
- check the quality of services; and
- to help with research and planning of new services.
How the law allows us to use your personal information
There are a number of legal reasons why we need to collect and use your personal information.
Each privacy notice from the menu on the left explains for each service which legal reason is being used. Generally we collect and use personal information in the where:
- you, or your legal representative, have given consent
- you have entered into a contract with us
- it is necessary to perform our statutory duties
- it is necessary to protect someone in an emergency
- it is required by law
- it is necessary for employment purposes
- you have made your information publicly available
- it is necessary for legal cases
- it is to the benefit of society as a whole
- it is necessary to protect public health
- it is necessary for archiving, research, or statistical purposes
If we have consent to use your personal information, you have the right to remove it at any time. If you want to remove your consent, please contact DPO@somerset.gov.uk and tell us which service you're using so we can deal with your request.
We only use what we need!
Where we can, we'll only collect and use personal information if we need it to deliver a service or meet a requirement.
If we don't need personal information we'll either keep you anonymous if we already have it for something else or we won't ask you for it. For example in a survey we may not need your contact details we'll only collect your survey responses.
If we use your personal information for research and analysis, we'll always keep you anonymous or use a different name unless you've agreed that your personal information can be used for that research.
We don't sell your personal information to anyone else.
Who do we share your information with?
We may share your personal information across the Council and with other partner organisations, where this is necessary, e.g. to provide a service. We will never share your personal information with a third party unless we have a lawful reason to do. We sometimes share your information when we feel there's a good reason that's more important that protecting your privacy. This doesn't happen often but we may share your information:
- in order to find and stop crime and fraud; or
- if there are serious risks to the public, our staff or to other professionals;
- to protect a child; or
- 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.
We use a range of organisations to either store personal information or help deliver our services to you. 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 privacy impact assessment (PIA) before we share personal information to make sure we protect your privacy and comply with the law.
Where your information is shared, 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, unless we are not required to do so. For example if a person is under investigation for fraud, letting them know that an investigation is taking place may disrupt the investigation so we would not need to tell them.
Will I be contacted for marketing purposes?
We do not make your personal details available to third parties for marketing purposes and SSDC will only send you marketing emails and otherwise contact you for marketing purposes if you sign up to a mailing list, for example, to the Octagon Theatre so you could be kept informed of forthcoming shows, or otherwise asked to be kept informed.
If you wish to have your name removed from a mailing list or have any questions please contact DPO@somerset.gov.uk
National Fraud Initiative
The Local Authorities and the Registered Providers are under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you have provided on this form for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.
The Cabinet Office is responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.
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. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
The partner Local Authorities and the Registered Providers participate in the Cabinet Office's National Fraud Initiative: a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud and are required to provide particular sets of data to the Minister for the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise.
What you can do with your information
The law gives you a number of rights to control what personal information is used by us and how it is used by us.
You can ask for access to the information we hold on you
You have the right to ask for all the information we have about you and the services you receive from us. When we receive a request from you in writing, we must give you access to everything we've recorded about you.
However, we can't let you see any parts of your record which contain:
- confidential information about other people; or
- data a professional thinks will cause serious harm to you or someone else's physical or mental wellbeing; or
- if we think that giving you the information may stop us or another organisation from preventing or detecting a crime.
This applies to personal information that is in both paper and electronic records. If you ask us, we'll also let others see your record (except if one of the points above applies).
If you would like to ask for access to the information that we hold on you please complete and return this form to DPO@somserset.gov.uk or alternatively send it to:
C/O Brympton Way
You can ask to change information you think is inaccurate
You should let us know if you disagree with something written on your file.
We may not always be able to change or remove that information but we'll correct factual inaccuracies and may include your comments in the record to show that you disagree with it.
If you would like to ask to change information you think is inaccurate please send an email to DPO@somserset.gov.uk or alternatively send a letter to:
You can ask to delete information (right to be forgotten)
In some circumstances you can ask for your personal information to be deleted, for example:
- where your personal data is no longer needed for the reasons why it was collected in the first place;
- where you have removed your consent for us to use your information (where there is no other legal reason for us to use it);
- where there is no legal reason for the use of your information;
- where deleting the information is a legal requirement.
Where your personal information has been shared with others, we'll do what we can to make sure those using your personal information comply with your request for deletion.
Please not that we can't delete your information where:
- we're required to have it by law;
- it is used for freedom of expression;
- it is used for public health purposes;
- it is for, scientific or historical research, or statistical purposes where it would make information unusable; or
- it is necessary for legal claims.
If you would like to ask for your information to be deleted please send an email to DPO@somserset.gov.uk or alternatively send a letter to:
You can ask to limit what we use your personal data for
You have the right to ask us to restrict what we use your personal information for where:
- you have identified inaccurate information, and have told us of it;
- where we have no legal reason to use that information but you want us to restrict what we use it for rather than delete the information altogether.
When information is restricted is can't be used other than to securely store the data and with your consent to handle legal claims and protect others, or where it's for important public interests of the UK.
Where restriction of use has been granted, we'll inform you before we carry on using your personal information.
You have the right to ask us to stop using your personal information for any Homefinder Somerset service. However, if this request is approved this may cause delays or prevent us delivering that service.
Were possible we'll seek to comply with your request, but we many need to hold or use information because we are required to by law.
If you would like to ask us to limit what we use your personal data for please send an email to DPO@somserset.gov.uk or alternatively send a letter to:
You can ask to have your information moved to another provider (data portability)
You have the right to ask for your personal data to be given back to you or another service provider of your choice in a commonly used format. This is called data portability.
However, this only applies if we're using your personal information with consent (not if we're required to by law) and if decision were made by a computer and not a human being.
It is likely that data portability won't apply to most of the services you receive from the council.
You can ask to have any computer made decisions explained to you, and details of how we may have 'risk profiled' you
You have the right to questions decisions made about you by a computer, unless it's required for any contract you have entered into, required by law, or you've consented to it.
You also have the right to object if you are being 'profiled'. Profiling is where decisions are made about you based on certain things in your personal information, e.g. your health conditions.
If and when the Homefinder Somerset Partnership uses your personal information to profile you, in order to deliver the most appropriate services to you, you will be informed.
If you have any concerns regarding automated decision making, or profiling, please send an email to DPO@somserset.gov.uk or alternatively send a letter to:
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'.
- Pseudonymisation, meaning that we'll use 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 our 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, we try to include all of these in our retention schedule.
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.
Where can I get advice?
If you have any worries or questions about how your personal information is handled please contact our Data Protection Officer at DPO@somerset.gov.uk or by calling 0300 123 2244 and asking for the 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.
Alternatively, visit ico.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.