The standards you can expect from Valuation Office Agency when we handle and hold personal information.
Personal information supplied by you as part of our statutory functions
Holding this information enables us to fulfil our statutory duties, serve customers and meet our obligations as an employer.
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) provides the statutory framework in relation to personal information.
When we handle personal information supplied by you as part of our statutory functions, your rights under the DPA are limited. The DPA permits us to use personal information for these purposes.
Personal information held outside our statutory purposes
When you supply personal information for purposes outside of our statutory obligations and duties, we will:
- make sure you know why we need it
- ask only for what we need
- protect it and ensure that access to it is restricted
- let you know if we share it with other organisations (unless it is shared for law enforcement purposes)
- make sure we do not keep it longer than necessary
In return, we ask you to:
- give us accurate information
- tell us as soon as possible if there are any changes
Information we collect
When someone uses our web services, we collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We collect this information in a way which does not identify anyone. We do not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting our web services.
We publish our corporate information and guidance on GOV.UK.
We will not associate any data gathered from the site with any personally identifying information from any other source. If we do want to collect personally identifying information through our web services, we will make this clear.
The contact information we hold may be used to contact customers when appropriate. Users may opt out of further communication if they choose.
Our web applications use forms for customers to submit information. We may collect contact information such as email addresses and financial information in relation to the setting of business rates.
Customer contact centre
When you call our customer contact centre we collect information, such as names and contact details. We use this information to help improve our efficiency and effectiveness. The information is recorded within our customer contact systems. Some telephone calls are recorded for quality assurance.
When we receive a complaint from a person we make up a file containing the details of the complaint. This normally contains the identity of the complainant and any other individuals involved in the complaint.
We will only use the personal information we collect to process the complaint and to check on the level of service we provide. We do compile and publish statistics but not in a form which identifies anyone.
We usually have to disclose the complainant’s identity to whoever the complaint is about. This is inevitable where, for example, the accuracy of a valuation is in dispute. If a complainant doesn’t want information identifying him or her to be disclosed, we will, in exceptional circumstances try to respect that but it will not usually be possible to handle a complaint on an anonymous basis.
We will keep personal information contained in complaint files in line with our retention policy for a period of 10 years. Our document disposal policy and list is available on request. It will be retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle.
Similarly, where enquiries are submitted to us we will only use the information supplied to us to deal with the enquiry and any subsequent issues and to check on the level of service we provide.
Usually we do not identify any complainants unless the details have already been made public.
To provide our services we have to hold users’ details and we may use this information for other related purposes, eg to carry out a survey.
For some of our services the terms and conditions set out what we may do with your information.
Job applicants and employees
If you apply to work for us we will only use your information to process your application and monitor our recruitment statistics.
When we need to disclose information to a third party, for example where we want to take up a reference, we will let you know beforehand, unless the disclosure is required by law.
Once a person has taken up employment with the Valuation Office Agency, we will compile a file relating to their employment.
Complaints or queries
We try to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information and we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously.
You can make a complaint if you think our collection or use of information is inaccurate, unfair or misleading.
We also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.
Access to personal information
You can make a ‘subject access request’ under the Data Protection Act 1998 to find out if we hold your personal information.
If we hold information about you we will:
- give you a description of it
- tell you why we are holding it
- tell you who it could be disclosed to
- let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form
There are exceptions under the DPA and, if these apply, we may not necessarily provide you with information requested.
How we use your information
We will not disclose, share or use personal data without consent unless it is within our own internal departments or with:
- other government departments and agencies
- law enforcement and regulatory agencies
- other relevant bodies
We may share information with third parties
- if false or inaccurate information is provided
- if it is in the public interest
- for the prevention and detection and investigation of crime, including registration fraud
Information that relates to fraud is shared with the police for:
- protecting life and property
- preserving order
- preventing the commission of offences
- bringing offenders to justice
- any duty or responsibility of the police arising from common or statute law
We follow the Information Commissioner’s ‘Data sharing code of practice’ where possible.
We access and use information disclosed to counter fraud organisations to prevent fraud and money laundering.
Freedom of Information
We may disclose information without obtaining your consent to comply with legislation, including the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004, or an order of court.
Protecting your information
We acknowledge that your trust and privacy is important. We are committed to protecting the information you provide us. To prevent unauthorised access, maintain accuracy and ensure proper use of information, we have physical, electronic and managerial processes to safeguard and secure the information we collect.
Complaints Investigation Team
Valuation Office Agency Complaints Investigation Team
93 to 107 Shaftesbury Avenue
Telephone 03000 500 471
For independent advice about data protection, privacy and data-sharing issues, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.