Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding Data Protection and West Midlands Police. If you cannot find the answer to your question here please contact the Data Protection Unit:
What laws and policies are relevant to personal information?
Personal information is managed in accordance with the following legislation and policy:
- The Data Protection Act 1998
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Computer Misuse Act 1990
- Association of Chief Police Officers Code of Practice for Data Protection
- Her Majesty's Government Manual for Protective Security
- Statutory Code of Practice for the Management of Police Information
Reference will also be made to relevant case law and to legal guidance and codes of practice issued by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
Who is the Data Controller for West Midlands Police?
The person ultimately responsible for the management of personal information by West Midlands Police is the Chief Constable. All employees of West Midlands Police act as the representatives and agents of the Chief Constable.
What is the purpose for holding personal information?
West Midlands Police has notified the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that personal information is held and used for the following purposes:
- The prevention and detection of crime,
- Apprehension and prosecution of offenders,
- Protection of life and property,
- Maintenance of law and order,
- Rendering assistance to the public in accordance with force policies and procedures.
Provision of necessary services to support the Policing Purpose including:
- Staff administration
- Occupational health and welfare
- Management of public relations, journalism and media
- Management of finance, internal review, accounting and auditing
- Property management
- Insurance management
- Vehicle and transport management
- Payroll and benefits management
- Management of complaints
- Management of IT
- Legal services
- Information provision
- Licensing and registration
- Pension administration,
- Research (including surveys)
- Performance management
- Sports & recreation
- System testing
- Health and safety management
Who might the police pass my personal information to?
Disclosure or passing of personal information to other organisations or individuals is strictly controlled. There are some occasions when we will pass personal information to other official agencies because we are required to do so by law or because that agency has a legitimate reason supported by legislation to be given the information.
For example the Health and Safety Executive when investigating accidents, the Inland Revenue when investigating tax fraud and Social Services when considering child protection and welfare.
We work in partnership with other agencies to reduce crime and disorder, reduce the fear of crime and protect the vulnerable. In order to work together it is necessary to share information.
Often this information is about crime figures or areas where crime or disorder is a particular problem. Sometimes it is necessary to share personal information to tackle a particular problem involving an identified offender or victim.
Sometimes information is shared to assist the partner agency in carrying out their lawful functions, but only when it is necessary and proportionate to do so.
Agencies we work in partnership with include:
- Local Authority Departments, including. Social Services, Housing, Environmental Health
- The Probation Service
- The Prison Service
- NHS Trust
- Department of Work and Pensions
Can I get a copy of my personal information?
The Data Protection Act provides the right for the individual to request a copy of personal information held about them by a data controller. This is known as 'Subject Access'. Please click on the 'Subject Access Request' tab to learn more.
Will I get all the information?
Subject Access entitles you to computerised records, except when an exemption is relevant. Manual or paper records are included if they are held in a 'relevant filing system'.
It may be the case that information about you or provided by you is held by West Midlands Police in paper form and in an unstructured format, that is, it cannot be easily located without looking through large volumes of information. In this case you would have to specify exactly what the information is that you require.
We may also refuse to provide such information if to locate, retrieve and extract it exceeds a total of 18 hours work. If the paper records held in an unstructured format relate to matters relating to your employment by us, the information is exempt from Subject Access.
The Data Protection Act contains a number of exemptions that may be applied to refuse disclosure of information. More information about these exemptions can be found here. Please note that the legislation does not require that the applicant is informed when an exemption has been applied.
The Act also provides an exemption relating to unstructured personal data where the estimated cost would exceed the appropriate fee limit – currently £450 or 18 working hours. The exemption does not cover the need to inform the applicant whether their personal data is being processed unless to do so would exceed the appropriate fees limit.
Is there any reason why I will not get my information?
The Data Protection Act 1998 does contain some exemptions from providing information following a subject access request.
Those most likely to be relevant to information held by the police are:
- Information held for the purpose of safeguarding national security
- Information held for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime, apprehending and prosecuting offenders but only when disclosure to the applicant might prejudice those purposes
- The police service will also consider whether to disclose information to an applicant if it might prejudice the wider public interest or might be relevant to current or future criminal proceedings in the courts
What do I do if I believe my information is wrong or that the police should not have or use that information?
You have the right to request that inaccurate information is corrected or deleted. You can also request that your information is no longer used or held if you can show that you are being caused significant and unwarranted damage or distress. In some cases you might be entitled to compensation.
Making such a request will not automatically result in the information being changed or removed.
If we can show that the information is necessary and relevant to our lawful and legitimate functions the information will be retained.
These are the options you can take:
- Contact the Data Protection Unit with your complaint.
- Contact the Chief Constable or West Midlands Police Professional Standards Department.
- Contact the Information Commissioners Office. This is the government department responsible for ensuring organisations are using personal information in accordance with the Data Protection Act. They can be contacted as follows:
The Information Commissioners Office
- You can also take advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.