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How we handle your information
Everyone working for Electoral Services has a legal duty to keep and process information about you in accordance with the law.
Why information is recorded about you
We use information about citizens, electors and voters to enable us to carry out specific functions for which we are responsible and to provide you with a statutory service.
We keep records about potential and actual electors, voters, citizens, candidates and their agents, staff employed at an election and the people we need to pay. These may be written down (manual records), or kept on a computer (electronic records).
These records may include:
- basic details about you, for example, name, address, date of birth and nationality
- unique identifiers (such as your National Insurance number),
- scanned application forms and dates of any letters of correspondence,
- notes about any relevant circumstances that you have told us
- details and records about the service you have received,
- your previous or any redirected address
- the other occupants in your home
- if you are over 76 or under 16/17
- whether you have chosen to opt out of the open version of the register
What the information is used for
Your records are used to help ensure that we provide you with the service that you need. We will, based on your nationality, include your name on the Electoral Register so that you are able to vote by your chosen method.
The Electoral Register is a public document which can be viewed by appointment only under strict control.
It is important that your records are accurate and up-to-date as they will help make sure that our staff are able to provide you with the help, advice or support you need.
If you do not provide us with this information then eligible citizens will not be able to vote and you may be breaking the law.
How long we keep your information
To provide you with this service, we rely on our legal obligation. The Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer are obliged to process your personal data in relation to preparing for and conducting Elections. Your details will be kept and updated in accordance with our legal obligations and in line with statutory retention periods.
Occasions when your information needs to be disclosed (shared) include:
- to contracted printers to print your poll cards, postal packs and other electoral material
- to registered political parties, elected representatives, candidates, agents and other permitted participants who can use it for electoral purposes only
- credit reference agencies, the British Library, UK Statistics Authority, the Electoral Commission and other statutory recipients of the Electoral Register
- details of whether you have voted (but not how you have voted) to those who are entitled in law to receive it after an election.
- to verify your identity. The data you provide will be processed by the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service (IERDS), managed by the Cabinet Office. As part of this process your data will be shared with the Department of Works and Pensions and the Cabinet Office suppliers who are data processors for the IERDS service. You can find more information about this at Register to vote
- where the health and safety of others is at risk,
- when the law requires us to pass on information under special circumstances,
- crime prevention or the detection of fraud as part of the National Fraud Initiative
Anyone who receives information from us has a legal duty to keep it confidential.
We are required by law to report certain information to appropriate authorities, for example:
- where a formal court order has been issued.
- to law enforcement agencies for the prevention or detection of a crime
- to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau indicating those persons who are aged 76 or over and are no longer eligible for jury service.
The process of checking citizens' personal identifiers to ensure eligibility for inclusion in the Electoral Register, is controlled by the Cabinet Office via the IER Digital Service.
- The Department for Work and Pensions who use data provided to verify the identity of new applicants
- The Cabinet Office will inform the old local authority of people who have moved area
Information will be processed within the EEA and will not be shared with overseas recipients.
If your details are in the open version of the electoral register, your name and address can be sold to third parties who may use it for any purpose. You can opt out of this version at any time and are given the opportunity annually as part of the canvass of all households.
How you can see your records
The Data Protection Act 2018 allows you to find out what information is held about you, on paper and computer records. This is known as 'right of subject access' and applies to your Electoral Services records along with all other personal records.
If you wish to see a copy of your records you should contact the Data Protection officer. You are entitled to receive a copy of your records free of charge, within a month.
In certain circumstances access to your records may be limited, for example, if the records you have asked for contain information relating to another person.
The Data Protection Act 2018 allows you other rights; for example, if there is an error in your records you have the right to make sure it is rectified or erased.
You have the right to opt out of the open version of the register, at any time, and we must remove you from this version and tell the statutory recipients in the next update.
You have the right to be told if we have made a mistake whilst processing your data and we will self-report breaches to the commissioner.
If you would like to know more about how we use your information, or if for any reason you do not wish to have your information used in any of the ways described, please tell us. Contact the Data Protection Officer on 0191 4332662.
Information Commissioner's Office
The Information Commissioner is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights.
If you would like to know more about your rights under the Data Protection law, and what you should expect from us, visit the Information Commissioner's website. If you have any concerns regarding our privacy practices or about exercising your Data Protection rights, you may contact the Information Commissioner's Office:
Information Commissioner's Office
0303 123 1113 or 01625 545 745