3 Big Data Myths: Busted

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”
― George Bernard ShawMajor Barbara

Myth #1:  Handwritten SMP notes belong to the Doctor

Having brought and subsequently lost a constructive dismissal claim, in 2014 and 2015, a Mr Percival made a series of Subject Access Requests to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) seeking access to the judge’s notes relating to the employment tribunal.

The MoJ initially resisted the request on the basis that judicial notes should not be disclosed as part of a subject access request. They argued that the Judge’s notes were not part of a “relevant filing system” so were not within the scope of the Data protection Act and that the MoJ were not the relevant data controller concerning the notes

The ICO also disagreed with the argument put forward by the MoJ that they were not the data controller, deciding that the MoJ became the data controller in relation to the notes as soon as they were included in the court file.

Accordingly, the ICO recommended that all personal data (including the Judge’s handwritten notes) should be provided. The judge’s notes were eventually released to Mr Percival in January 2017.

It is reported that the ICO letter to Mr Percival stated

there is no doubt that clarifying the nature of the relationship between judicial notes and the DPA is important … a decision on the relationship is likely to be far-reaching and extend well beyond the particular circumstances of your own case.”

Often SMP’s keep their scribbles to themselves.  The ICO advice makes it clear that if the SMP has used a pen during the appointment, then he or she is obliged to disclose what they have written in answer to a subject access request.

Myth #2:  consent to Disclose a report cannot be revoked when an Occupational Health Doctor is performing a work test for an employer

IODPA has already discussed the Access to Medical Reports Act.  You can refresh your knowledge here:

Access to Medical Reports Act

But what are the thoughts to the GMC on this matter?  Michael Keegan, Policy Adviser with the GMC’s Standards & Ethics Team made it quite clear in a 2009 letter he sent to the Faculty of Occupation Medicine.

If a doctor makes a report based on that person’s own medical history, specific consent of disclosure is required.

Mr Keegan elucidates:

For the avoidance of doubt, I should state that the disclosure of a report expressing an opinion (on a patient’s fitness to work, for example) based on confidential information is a disclosure. I think that was common ground.

He contrasts this with a report authored with information that originated from the employer alone:

Reports based on information to which patients’ employers or insurers already have access are not disclosures for the purposes of this guidance, although the involvement and role of doctors should be explained as part of the information about the process.

Police forces do not have the information held on your GP medical records – this is why they demand full records from birth with poorly veiled threats to suspend awards on non-compliance.  They fail to realise by obtaining such information they then have statutory restrictions on any report or certificate they write based on such information.

This takes us to the final myth: they can’t keep the confidential, personal and sensitive data they already possess!

Myth #3:  A Police force can retain the personal CONFIDENTIAL & sensitive data of a retired officer forever in perpetuity “just in case

This debunk involves a Mr Herring who, having attended a Police Medical Appeals Board (‘PMAB’), approx 15 years ago recently discovered that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary still retained a full set of his medical records from birth. They attempted to justify this retention on the basis that the records were being held ‘just in case’ they were required at some point in the future. Case law confirms that once a medical assessment has been made under the PIBR 2006, then that decision is final and introducing or using previous medical information can be unlawful.

The case was taken to the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) regarding the excessive retention and processing of data of personal sensitive information. After consultation with the National College of Policing (‘COP’), the ICO upheld the complaint, and instructed the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to cease processing this material forthwith and either destroy it, or return it to Mr Herring upon request.

We quote from the ICO’s advice to Mr Herring,

“…it would appear that the constabulary is excessively processing sensitive personal data about you. It would appear unnecessary for the constabulary to continue to retain information about your medical records, going right back to your birth.
We have therefore asked the constabulary to cease processing your medical records. We would recommend that you contact the constabulary directly to agree how best for them to do this; whether it be that they return the information to you or securely destroy it”

Mr Herring subsequently had his medical records returned to him.

There is therefore no justification or provision in law for holding or processing such excessive amounts of sensitive personal information. Many forces hold vast amounts of information relating to retired officers, and for no lawful reason. We understand that the COP will be issuing guidance to forces, but in the meantime it is open for all retired officers to contact their force and ask for the return of their data. We would also encourage them to do so.





3 Big Data Myths: Busted

10 thoughts on “3 Big Data Myths: Busted

  • 2017-11-05 at 10:15 am

    There was a time when the British Police Service was upheld as the finest in the world.
    Yet behind the veneer lay a catalogue of pusillanimous bullying, sexual deviance, distortion of the regulations, and blatant disregard for the welfare and lives of serving police officers.
    In recent years that veneer is being peeled away layer by layer and we are seeing the reality behind the mask:
    – Young people attended recruitment interviews and medicals, and found themselves sexually assaulted by force doctors – betrayed by the very strata of society who bore the greatest responsibility for decency and lawfulness and in whom trust should have been without question.
    Of course nowadays that behaviour is a little too hot to handle as people are more inclined to speak out….so the same demonic need for power is exercised through
    – Flagrant disregard for equality law meaning female, black, gay and disabled officers were subjected to the repugnant, regardless of competence and ability. There are cases aplenty that come to light.
    – And here we are in the current day and age seeing those same people who are supposed to uphold the law bringing about a targeted and systematic campaign to abuse the law in order to harm a whole group of disabled people, whose only ‘crime’ was to find themselves harmed serving the public.

    What’s next ACPO?
    You already have sexual deviance, rife racism and sexism, wholsesale disability discrimination…
    … you already think you are far more important that the law of the land…
    … you might as well just openly resort to the kind of tactics once so widely executed by the KKK – maybe a certain solicitor of warped mind could head up the horsey cavalcade carry the lit flame, whilst the rest of you stupidly and blindly follow !

  • 2017-10-17 at 8:28 am

    I personally collected my medical notes from the OH unit at Avon and Somerset and received assurances that there weren’t any copies. If of course there are and they come to light later then I think it will be a lot more trouble than its worth for the force.
    However, whilst they gave me all my medical notes they have retained an amount of personal/sensitive information. I have asked why and it appears to be ‘just in case’, so I have instructed solicitors to find out why and further complained to the ICO.
    I wrote to the force over a year ago explaining the DPA to them, but as usual they thought they knew best. I am delighted that the ICO agrees with me.
    I am always happy to share my information.

  • 2017-10-16 at 9:41 pm

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but for a police service to blatantly continue to breach regulations should be investigated by the college of policing; but I guess they are not interested.

  • 2017-10-16 at 9:12 pm

    When are the Police forces going to realise that if the IODPA can sort all of these things out and put the powers that be straight, if they actually took the time to go into things properly and address the regulations and conducted their business correctly and sensitively.

    Then they would actually have saved some money as opposed what this cluster fuck must be costing them.

    They should actually open a dialogue with IODPA.

  • 2017-10-16 at 6:47 pm

    Dear IODPA

    I always read your blogs with great interest and I have to say that each and every one leaves me more and more aghast.

    While I am sure that some elements of particular Police Forces will also read them (with, I imagine, a different sort of interest), I am concerned that you hold a wealth of information and experiences that should be firmly placed at their doors.

    Is there any way in which the IODPA could filter such information as this blog directly to Police HR departments or Police Pension Authorities?

    The information within this blog is based on legal fact, not opinion or fiction. PPA’s and HR departments need it spelling out to them personally.

    I have always been impressed by the work of the IODPA, but I have to say that your increasing knowledge base regarding the Police Injury Regulations, Data Protection law and Human Rights legislation combined with your continuing commitment to supporting officers injured in the line of duty, is absolutely first class.

    Thank you does not cover it.

    Keep up the superb work – it is truly appreciated.

    Kindest regards

    T Bird

  • 2017-10-16 at 4:57 pm

    When will the PPA’s learn that mendaciousness is not the way to save money. In general, savings to one part of the system (PPA budget) are costs to another (public purse). Of course the PPA believe that as long as they are saving they are succeeding but at what expense financially and in terms of pensioners health. There appears to be a hodgepodge of arrangements carefully formulated and existing independently although working at cross purposes to achieve this. What do they actually achieve, they sour the pensioners feelings towards the PPA and generate enormous administration costs which add to the overall costs, it is madness. SMPs are openly being enticed to act as “double agents” in an open ended and inherently inflationary system, over which no one seems to have control or care for controlling. SMPs achieve this by tailoring their care or lack of care for their patients in order to save money for their paymasters the PPA. By acting in the way the PPA advocate causes the SMP to be used again, a favourable repeat. Clearly this sends out the message that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

  • 2017-10-16 at 3:03 pm

    I wonder how many years all this stuff has been going on for. We all know that Police Officers get no preparation about what could happen if they were ever seriously injured on duty. Injuries are common for a police officer. Kicks on the shins, hair pulled, spit upon, an dd thump or two about the body. These never even get reported. It’s classed as part of the job. Almost always a serious injury would end in compulsory IH retirement and if an officer is aware they have the right to claim for IOD pension when that happens.

    We are becoming more aware now, thanks to groups gathering to fight, about the most obnoxious illegal stoppages from IOD pensions. What has now become obvious, thanks to IODPA, is how numerously the practices that are actually illegal that are being used by the Forces we served.

    I think it is time now that some Authority should be brought in to investigate what is going on. The IOD Pension Rules and Regulations are clear enough. Unlawful demands are being made of IOD pensioners in matters of review.

    Let them be warned that we are now aware! We have fabulous researchers in IODPA that can turn up PROOF that the current paractices by HR departments and SMP’s are illegal!

    My suspicion is that they will try to minimalise IOD pensions no matter what! If they are busted they will fight! Not too many IOD Pensioners are aware of what is going on and are not aware that they can appeal any decision that is not correct but ‘made up’ by whatever SMP of HR department involved. (That is changing thankfully!)

    Go ahead IODPA! Get them all busted and paying for their actions

  • 2017-10-16 at 1:21 pm

    Well well well.

    Firstly, I find it difficult to believe that the Information Commissioner has finally come down on the side of a complainant, especially regarding the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, who prior to this had been widely regarded, certainly by myself, and those that I associate with, as the Constabulary’s puppet.

    Perhaps, this is why they ( The ICO ) are still dragging their heels in relation to a subject access request made to them, by yours truly, for all documentation, Email, and recordings, either electronic or handwritten between themselves, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, and the 1st tier tribunal service.

    They do not have a good record here, because the first ” Tribunal Bundle ” received not just myself, but one other person, who does not reside in this country, contained data in relation to two completely different persons, neither of whom had made a complaint to the ICO, or appealed their decision to the Tribunal.

    I will be writing to the Constabulary for the return of my Medical notes, and I would encourage others to do so accordingly.

    Of course, you would like to think, that once caught with their trousers down, again, they might do the decent thing, be proactive and return all incriminating data, prior to receiving further requests, and ultimately the complaints that will follow as a result of this ruling.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    What is evident, is that they are not lying down,they are going to all the relevant agencies, and governing bodies, before they once again, return to the area of IOD reviews, suitably armed with the necessary information.

    Just stick to the steps contained within the regulations and they will not go far wrong, but they can’t.

    Because the Regs are not weighted in their favour.

    Shame that.

  • 2017-10-16 at 10:03 am

    Great work as always, IODPA!
    Keep the blows landing on the criminals!

    • 2017-10-16 at 11:02 am

      As we know, full well, that ‘they’ are not to be trusted, how can we be sure that once they return your sensitive medical data, as requested, that they haven’t copied them first?

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