FOI release

Security of personal data

How the department ensures the safety and security of pupils' personal data.

Documents

Details

  • Date requested: 14 June 2011
  • Publish date: 04 July 2011
  • Updated: 26 April 2012

Request

Now that the department has control over Social Work and Children’s Law does this mean any teacher/anyone at the local education department can access personal data?

How is personal data being protected and kept private from members of council departments and which data is kept private (unless ordered otherwise by a judge) and whom exactly has the right to access any/all our data as and when they want to?

Release

This department has the lead responsibility for children’s policy in England. Professionals working in children’s services in local authorities (LAs) in England may have access to personal information about children which it holds where necessary and appropriate for the performance of their functions. LAs will have their own organisational policies around the handling of personal information.

All processing of personal data will need to comply with the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation. There are also statutory provisions requiring Schools and LAs to share specified personal information with the department.

If a child is at risk of harm there may be a clear and legitimate purpose to share information. Sharing of information when there is concern about a child’s welfare will enable professionals to consider jointly how to proceed in the best interests of the child and to safeguard children more generally. In deciding whether there is a need to share information professionals should consider their legal obligations, including whether they have a duty of confidentiality to the child. 

Where there is such a duty, the professional may lawfully share information if the child consents or if there is a public interest of sufficient force. This must be judged by the professional on the facts of each case. Where there is a clear likelihood of a child suffering significant harm the public interest test will almost certainly be satisfied.  

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) also provides guidance to public bodies and to individuals on the handling of personal data and when such data can be shared lawfully between professionals.