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Information Compliance

Information from the College is released for many reasons and to many people on a daily basis.  In addition to the release of general information in response to routine enquiries the College is required to deal with requests arising from statutory rights of access provided by the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environment Information Regulations 2004.  Compliance with each piece of legislation places obligations on the College about how requests are processed and handled.

The  information below provides brief guidance.  If you require further information or help with a request please contact FOIrhul.ac.uk|.

Data Protection (DPA)

The Data Protection Act 1998 protects the rights and privacy of individuals and ensures that data about individuals is not processed without their knowledge and is processed with their consent where possible.

The Data Protection Act  covers data held in electronic format and manual data held in a relevant filing system. 

Royal Holloway is a data controller and is registered with the Information Commissioners Office as required under the Data Protection Act.  The College will only process personal data in accordance with the College's notification and current Data Protection Legislation.  The College's entry on the Data Protection Register can be found by searching the ICO webpage at  http://www.ico.org.uk/EDSWebpages/Dosearch|

The Data Protection Act requires that processing should be carried out according to the eight Data Protection Principles.  These are outlined below:

  1. Be obtained and processed fairly and lawfully and shall not be processed unless certain conditions are met.
  2. Be obtained for a specified and lawful purpose and shall not be processed in any manner incompatible with purpose
  3. Be adequate and relevant and not excessive for those purposes
  4. Be accurate and kept up to date
  5. Not kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose
  6. Be processed in accordance with the data subject's right
  7. Be kept safe from unauthorised access, accidental loss or destruction
  8. Not be transferred to a country outside the European Economic area unless that country has equivalent levels of protection for personal data.

The College and all staff or others who process or use any personal information must ensure that they follow these principles at all times.

The College's Data Protection Policy can be found at Data Protection Policy.|

Data Security

Unauthorised disclosure of personal data could result in criminal proceedings against the College.  All staff are responsible for ensuring that any personal data which they hold is kept securely to ensure that:

  • there is no unauthorised access to, alteration or destruction of the data;
  • there is no unauthorised disclosure, either orally or in writing, of the data;
  • there is no accidental loss or destruction of the data
  • there is no accidental disclosure, either orally or in writing, of the data to any unauthorised third party.

Individual Rights under the Data Protection Act

Staff and students and other users of the University have the right to access any personal data kept about them on computer or in manual filing systems.  Any requests for personal data (known as subject access requests) should be made using this form: Subject Access Request Form|.

A verification of identity may be required.  The College may also charge a fee of £10.00 as specified in the Act.  Information will be provided to the requestor within 40 calendar days.

If as a member of staff you receive a subject access request please forward it as soon as possible to FOIrhul.ac.uk|.

Responsibilities of Staff

Staff have responsibilities both as data subjects and data users.  All members of staff are responsible for:

  • Checking that any information they provide to the College in connection with their employment is accurate and up to date.
  • informing the College of any changes to information they have provided e.g. changes of address.  This can be done through MyView
  • checking information that the College will send out from time to time, giving details of information kept and processed.

If as part of their responsibilities, staff collect information about other people they must comply with the Data Protection Principles, the content of the Data Protection policy and advice given by the Data Protection Officer.

Responsibilities of Students

Students must ensure that all personal data provided to the College is accurate and up to date.  They must ensure that changes of address and other information held by the College about them are notified to Registry.  Students processing personal data as part of their course should do so under the supervision of staff responsible for their course.  Students processing personal data other than part of their course are required to make an individual notification to the Information Commissioner.

Freedom of Information (FOI)

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force in January 2005.  It iis intended to make public authorities more open and accountable.  The Act places two main responsibilities on public authorities:

  1. To produce a Publication Scheme and Guide to information identifying all the information that the College already publishes. The College follows the model publication scheme for Higher Education Institutions approved by the Infomation Commissioner's Office (ICO).

  2. To respond to requests for information.  This gives individuals the right to request recorded information held by the College.  They have the right to be told whether or not the information is held and it is to have the information communicated to them.

The Publication Scheme follows the model publication scheme and can be found at: Publication Scheme|

Requests for Information

Freedom of Information requests must be made in writing and have a valid address to respond to.

Public authorities must respond to a request within 20 working days.

The Act is "requestor blind" so all requests have to be treated the same way.  However, there may be occasions when this does not apply e.g. if the request is for personal data or if the request could be consider vexatious or repeated.

The Freedom of Information Act contains a number of exemptions which specify the circumstances when public authorities are not obliged to provide information.

Royal Holloway is committed to being as open and transparent as possible however on some occasions it may be appropriate to apply an exemption.  Below is a brief guide to the exemptions which are most likely to be used:

 

  • Information about other people - personal information about third parties is exempt if disclosure would be contrary to the data protection principles set down in the Data Protection Act.
  • Information provided in confidence where disclosure of information would constitute an actionable breach of confidence. 
  • Commercially sensitive information where disclosure of information would prejudice the commercial interests of Royal Holloway or another body.
  • Information where disclosure would endanger the health and safety of other people.
  • Information which is readily accessible by other means.  This applies to information that is readily available elsewhere e.g. on the College's website or published elsewhere.
  • The College may also decline to release information if it is intended for future publication.  Where possible the College will indicate when it expects the information to be available. 

Further information about exemptions can be found on the ICO's Guidance Index to freedom of information and environmental information.|

The College may also refuse a request if the cost of locating or extracting the information is estimated to exceed the appropriate limit|.  This has been set at £450 or 18 hours of staff time at the rate of £25 per hour.  This rate is the same for any member of staff who deals with the request.

Making an FOI Request

Although requests can be sent to any staff member we recommend that requests are sent to the following address to ensure that they are dealt with promptly.

FOIrhul.ac.uk|

Freedom of Information
Secretariat
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham
Surrey  TW20 OEX

The request should include a name, an address for correspondence and the address the information should be sent to  (if different). Description of the information requested.

In order to ensure that we have understood a request we may ask for further clarification about the information required.  Once a request for the clarification has been made the 20 working day response time stops until a reply is received from the requestor.

When replying to a request the College will confirm or deny whether the information is held by the College.  If we hold the information we will either provide it or explain how it can be accessed.  If we cannot provide the information we will explain why the decision was made to apply an exemption.  We will also explain what to do if you are not satisfied with the way the request has been handled. 

Complaints

If you are not satisfied with the response to your request you can request an internal review by writing to:

Deputy College Secretary - Secretariatrhul.ac.uk|

Or by post to:

Deputy College Secretary
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham Hill
TW20 OEX

 Complaints Procedure|

Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

The Environmental Regulations 2004 allow public access to information held by a public authority which relates to the envirionment in the following areas:

Air
Water
Soil
Land
Flora and fauna
Biodiversity
Emissions
Noise
Energy
Waste
Health & Safety
 
The main differences between the EIR and FOI are:

Requests for information under EIR do not have to be made in writing
Requests cannot be refused on the grounds of cost.
There are no absolute exemptions, there are exceptions that can be used to refuse a request but these are subject to a public interest test.

IAlthough request under the EIR do not have to be made in writing if you wish to make a request under EIR please e mail  FOIrhul.ac.uk|.  This will help us to provide an appropriate response to your request.  Alternatively,  please call 01784 276244.

Further information can be found on the  Information Commissioners Office website: www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/environmental_information/guide|

 
 
 

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