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Why do we handle personal information?

We obtain, hold, use and disclose personal information for policing purposes including:

  • Preventing and detecting crime
  • Apprehending and prosecuting offenders
  • Protecting life and property
  • Preserving order
  • Maintaining law and order
  • Rendering assistance to the public in accordance with force policies and procedures
  • Any duty or responsibility arising from common or statute law

We obtain, hold, use and disclose personal information to support policing purposes including:

  • Staff administration, occupational health and welfare
  • Management of public relations, journalism, advertising and media
  • Management of finance
  • Internal review, accounting and auditing
  • Training
  • Property management
  • Insurance management
  • Vehicle and transport management
  • Payroll and benefits management
  • Management of complaints
  • Vetting
  • Management of information technology systems
  • Legal services
  • Information provision
  • Licensing and registration
  • Pensioner administration
  • Research, including surveys 
  • Performance management
  • Sports and recreation
  • Procurement
  • Planning
  • System testing 
  • Security 
  • Health and safety management

What types of personal information do we handle?

We may obtain, use and disclose personal information relating to or consisting of the following:

  • Personal details such as name, address and biographical details
  • Family, lifestyle and social circumstances
  • Education and training details
  • Employment details
  • Financial details
  • Goods or services provided
  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Political opinions
  • Religious or other beliefs of a similar nature
  • Trade union membership
  • Physical or mental health or condition
  • Sexual life
  • Offences (including alleged offences)
  • Criminal proceedings, outcomes and sentences
  • Physical identifiers including DNA, fingerprints and other genetic samples
  • Sound and visual images
  • Licenses or permits held
  • Criminal Intelligence
  • References to manual records or files
  • Information relating to health and safety
  • Complaint, incident and accident details.

We will only use appropriate personal information necessary to fulfil a particular purpose or purposes. 

Personal information could be information which is held on a computer or a paper record.  It can also include other types of electronically held information such as CCTV.

Where do we obtain personal information from?

We may obtain personal information from a wide variety of sources, including the following:

  • Other law enforcement agencies
  • HM Revenue and Customs
  • International law enforcement agencies and bodies
  • Licensing authorities
  • Legal representatives
  • Prosecuting authorities
  • Defence solicitors
  • Courts
  • Prisons
  • Security companies
  • Partner agencies involved in crime and disorder strategies
  • Private sector organisations working with the police in anti-crime strategies
  • Voluntary sector organisations
  • Approved organisations and people working with the police
  • Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
  • Auditors
  • Central government, governmental agencies and departments
  • Emergency services
  • Individuals themselves
  • Relatives, guardians or other persons associated with the individual
  • Current, past or prospective employers of the individual
  • Healthcare, social and welfare advisers or practitioners
  • Education, training establishments and examining bodies
  • Business associates and other professional advisors
  • Employees and agents of West Midlands Police
  • Suppliers, providers of goods or services
  • Persons making an enquiry or complaint
  • Financial organisations and advisors
  • Credit reference agencies
  • Survey and research organisations
  • Trade, employer associations and professional bodies
  • Local government
  • Voluntary and charitable organisations
  • Ombudsmen and regulatory authorities
  • The media 
  • Data Processors working on behalf of West Midlands Police.

We may also obtain personal information from other sources such as our own CCTV systems, or correspondence.

Whose personal information do we handle?

We may obtain, use and disclose personal information relating to a wide variety of individuals including the following:

  • Staff including volunteers, agents, temporary and casual workers
  • Suppliers
  • Complainants, correspondents and enquirers
  • Relatives, guardians and associates of the individual concerned
  • Advisers, consultants and other professional experts
  • Offenders and suspected offenders
  • Witnesses
  • Victims
  • Former and potential members of staff, pensioners and beneficiaries
  • Other individuals necessarily identified in the course of police enquiries and activity.

We will only use appropriate personal information necessary to fulfil a particular purpose or purposes. 

Personal information could be held on a computer or in a paper record.  It can also include other types of electronically held information such as CCTV.

How do we handle personal information?

We will handle personal information in accordance with the Data Protection Act. 

We will ensure that personal information is handled fairly and lawfully with appropriate justification. 

We will strive to ensure that any personal information used by us or on our behalf is of the highest quality in terms of accuracy, relevance, adequacy and non-excessiveness.  It will also be kept as up-to-date as required, is protected appropriately, and is reviewed, retained and securely destroyed when no longer required. 

We will also respect individuals' rights under the Act.

How long do we retain personal information?

We keep personal data as long as is necessary for the particular purpose or purposes for which it is held. 

Personal data which is placed on national police systems namely, the Police National Computer, National DNA Database or National Fingerprint Database is managed in accordance with NPCC Deletion of Records from National Police Systems.

Other records containing personal data relating to crime recording, domestic violence, child abuse investigation, public protection, missing persons, case and custody, incident records, firearms licensing and intelligence will be retained in accordance with the Authorised Professional Practice on the Management of Police Information.

We may monitor or record and retain telephone calls, texts, emails and other electronic communications to the force in order to deter, prevent and detect inappropriate or criminal activity and to ensure security.

We do not place a pre-recorded 'fair processing notice' on telephone lines that may receive emergency calls (including misdirected ones) because of the risk of harm that may be caused by the delay in response to the call.

Who do we disclose personal information to?

We may disclose personal information to a wide variety of recipients in any part of the world, including those from who personal information is obtained. 

This may include other law enforcement agencies, partner agencies working on crime reduction initiatives, partners in the Criminal Justice arena, Victim Support, and IT contractors or survey organisations working on our behalf. We may also disclose information to prevent harm to individuals.

Disclosure of personal information will be made on a case-by-case basis with necessary controls in place.

Some groups that we disclose personal information to are situated outside of the European Union.  They may not have laws that protect data protection rights as extensively as in the United Kingdom. We will take proper steps to ensure that it is adequately protected as required by the Act.

We will also disclose personal information to other bodies or individuals when required to do so by an act of legislation, rule of law, or by court order. This may include disclosures to the Child Support Agency, the National Fraud Initiative, Home Office and to the Courts.

We may also disclose personal information on a discretionary basis for the purpose of any legal proceedings or for obtaining legal advice.

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
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
SK9 5AF 

How can I complain about how my information being used or disclosed?

If you have a complaint about how your information has been disclosed or used, please email our Information Security team at


If you want to request the removal of data, or have any other related queries, please email, or write to:

The Civil Disclosure Unit
West Midlands Police
PO Box 52
B4 6NQ

For all other Data Protection queries, including complaints and breaches, please email or write to:

Information Security & Assurance
West Midlands Police
PO Box 52
B4 6NQ



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