Privacy notice for service users
Here we define ‘service users’ as children and young people or adults who are a part of family court proceedings.
This privacy notice is for Cafcass service users (adults in family court proceedings). It explains how Cafcass uses your personal information.
What information do we collect about you?
We collect and use your personal information when it relates to the family court proceedings. This can include:
- your personal details: name, address, email address, telephone number(s), date of birth
- diversity information: ethnicity, any disabilities, first language
- criminal record information: from the Police National Computer
- local authority record information: from your local children’s services
- health information: GP records and other health information.
Why do we do use this information?
We use this information to carry out our legal role which is set out in section 12 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. Our legal role is to:
- safeguard and promote the welfare of children
- give advice to the family courts
- enable children to be represented in the family courts
- provide information and support to children and their families
We also aim to collect your diversity information so that we can:
- better understand and apply equality and diversity considerations in our work
- make sure we are compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and our own Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
We collect your diversity information directly from you and it is your choice whether you share this information with us. You don’t need to provide this information if you do not want to.
Where do we collect this information from?
We collect this information:
- from court documents
- directly from you in telephone or face-to-face interviews
- from other parties on the case
- any other person the Cafcass practitioner needs to speak to for their enquiries.
We also collect information from other agencies as part of our safeguarding work. This is set out in the Child Arrangements Programme (paragraph 13.3). These agencies include:
- the police
- local authorities.
We may make enquiries with other agencies such as your GP or your child’s school.
- Where do this, we will ask for your consent to make these enquiries.
- But if you do not give consent, a court direction may be sought if necessary so we can make our enquiries.
How will we use your information?
We use this information to:
- give advice to the court
- make recommendations to the court in a letter or report
- inform research about family court proceedings.
We may contact you once the court proceedings have ended to ask:
- for your feedback on our services
- if you would be willing to take part in research by Cafcass. We only publish research in a way which means you cannot be identified.
You do not need to give feedback or be involved with research if you do not wish to.
Who will we share the information with?
Information may be shared with:
- the court
- the other parties in the case
- It usually cannot be shared with anyone else. This is because information about court proceedings can’t be shared without the court’s permission.
However, information may be shared with other professionals if it is needed for child protection. This is set out in the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (section 12.73).
We may share limited information with our Commissioned services who provide court ordered activities.
- This work is carried out under strict terms and conditions
- We only share information with these services when completing the activity has been ordered by the court.
For information about Commissioned services please see: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/directory-of-providers/
The Family Procedure Rules (Practice Direction 12G) allow us to share case information with some third parties, including government departments, for research. The data may also be linked to other information that is held about you by third parties. This is to help:
- monitor the effectiveness of family court proceedings
- develop policy and good practice.
This data sharing only takes place if it is approved by the Cafcass Research Governance Committee. This makes sure that:
- projects are conducted ethically and likely to be useful for Cafcass and the children and families we work with
- there are appropriate safeguards in place to meet data protection requirements
- information is anonymised before research is published so that no service users are identifiable.
Please see our approved research projects on the research pages of this website.
How long do we keep your information for?
- We keep information about Cafcass cases until the youngest child in the case is 22 years old.
- Please note that Cafcass does not record telephone calls.
- More information on how long we keep information for is in the retention schedule: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/about-cafcass/policies/
Can we correct your information?
- You can ask us to correct your information if you believe it is wrong.
- Please contact your Cafcass practitioner if any of the information we have recorded about you is incorrect. We will either correct the information or record that it is contested.
- If any of your personal or contact details change, please contact Cafcass as soon as possible so that we can update your records promptly.
Can you have a copy of your information?
How do we keep your information secure?
- We keep information on our secure electronic case management system and in secure archives.
- We send sensitive information by secure postal services or via Egress secure email.
- All Cafcass official email addresses end in @cafcass.gov.uk.
If for some reason you suspect that an email you have received is not from Cafcass, please see the below guidance:
If you receive an email stating to be from Cafcass that does not end in @cafcass.gov.uk please contact us at [email protected] to let us know.
If you receive an email from someone stating to work for Cafcass but you do not know them, please contact our Call Centre on 0300 456 4000 and we can confirm things for you.
If you believe someone is pretending to work for Cafcass please contact [email protected]
More detail on how we protect information is in our Information Assurance Policy
How to contact us
If you have any questions about how we use your information, you can contact our Data Protection Officer:
- by email: [email protected]
- by post: Data Protection Officer, Cafcass, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3HF.
If you have any concerns about how we use your information, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office who ensure organisations comply with data protection laws: https://ico.org.uk/