Privacy notice for service users
Here we define ‘service users’ as children and young people or adults who are a part of a family court proceeding.
What information do we collect about you and why do we do this?
We collect and process personal information about you where it is relevant to the family court proceedings (where these are either proposed or concluded). We do this to fulfil our statutory role in providing advice to the court when we are appointed. Our role is to:
- safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
- give advice to the family courts;
- make provision for children to be represented;
- provide information, advice and other support for children and their families.
Due to the nature of our work in family court proceedings, this is often sensitive information. The information we collect can include personal characteristics, criminal record information, local authority record information, health information and some other types of information. We hold this material where it is relevant to our statutory role.
Our legal basis for processing this information is our statutory role which is set out in section 12 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.
We also aim to collect diversity information for our workforce to better understand and integrate equality and diversity considerations into their work and provide the best possible service to children and families. This will help us ensure we are compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and is in line with our Diversity and inclusion strategy. This information can include ethnicity, disability, first language and child needs. It is collected directly from you and it is up to you if you share this with us. Other protected characteristics such as beliefs and sexual orientation may also be collected from a number of sources including local authority data.
Where do we collect this information from?
We collect this information from court application documents, from you in phone or face-to-face interviews, from other parties on the case and also any other person the practitioner considers it necessary to speak to.
We also obtain information from other agencies, such as the police and local authorities; we collect information relevant to safeguarding assessments and this is obtained in line with the arrangements set out in the Child Arrangements Programme (see paragraph 13.3).
During the course of the case, we may speak with other agencies such as your GP or your child’s schools; your consent will be sought for these, but if you refuse this, a court direction may also be sought.
For more information on when checks are made with other agencies, please see our Operating Framework.
How will we use your information?
We use this information to advise the court and may make written recommendations to the court in a letter or a report. We keep this information until the youngest child on the case would be 22 years old (unless the case relates to adoption, in which case it may be kept for longer).
Sometimes information is shared as part of research to do with family court proceedings. We will only publish this in a way which means you cannot be identified.
We may want to contact you once the court proceedings have ended to obtain feedback on our services or to ask whether you would be willing to take part in research undertaken by Cafcass.
Who will we share the information with?
Information is shared with the court and with the other parties involved in the case.
In most circumstances, it cannot be shared further even with your consent, as information relating to proceedings cannot be disclosed without the permission of the court. However, it may sometimes be shared with other professionals where it is required for the furtherance of child protection. This is in accordance with the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (please see section 12.73).
The Family Procedure Rules (Practice Direction 12G) also allow us to share information with certain third parties, including other government departments who are conducting research projects. This is to monitor the efficiency of family court proceedings, help with policy development, monitor compliance with key performance indicators (KPIs), and assist with the development of good practice. We may share your case information with individual researchers, subject to approval from the Cafcass Research Governance Committee and, where necessary, the President of the Family Division. Individual researchers must sign and comply with a confidentiality agreement. The original data will be anonymised before sharing beyond the approved researchers and before the research is disseminated.
Anonymised information may be published in the form of statistics on our website and in our annual report, as well as shared with others in the family justice system.
How long do you keep my information for?
Case information is held until the youngest child involved in the proceedings would be 22 years old. Please see more information in the Information assurance policy appendix 1 (Record Classification and Retention) and section 10.1 of the Case recording and retention policy.
Can I see what information you hold about me?
You have the right to see a copy of the personal information Cafcass holds about you (this is called a Subject Access Request).
Can you correct my information if I tell you it is wrong?
You have a right to ask us to correct any inaccuracies in the information we hold about you. Please contact your practitioner if any of the information we have recorded about you is not correct or is out of date. We will either amend the information, or add a note to show that it is contested.
How do we keep your information secure?
We understand that, due to the nature of the work we carry out with children and families, we often deal with personal information that is sensitive. It is our duty to handle this information correctly and protect it from falling into the wrong hands. We protect it by holding new information on our secure electronic case management system and old information in archives on secure premises. We also send sensitive information by secure methods, either by secure postal services or electronically via Egress Switch secure email. This ensures that only those with the right to view the information can access it. More information on how we do this can be seen in our Information Assurance policy and our Case recording and retention policy.
What to do if you think there is a problem with the way we handle your information
Please contact us if you have any questions about our privacy notice, the information we hold about you, or how we handle this information:
- by email: [email protected]
- by post: Information Assurance, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3HF
If you have any further concerns about how we handle your information, you have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who regulate compliance with data protection legislation: ico.org.uk/