What about data protection?

The purpose of the law on data protection is to make sure that information is used in the way in which it was intended to be when it was gathered.  There is nothing about equalities monitoring that should cause a problem in terms of data protection, if the following issues are taken into account:

  • Data protection registration – make sure that your organisation is registered with the Information Commissioner.  Check how you have registered, and what you have said about how information will be used.  Make sure that this is in fact how you do use the information you gather.  Remember, you can update your registration to include new uses of information if you need to.  Find out more by visiting the Information Commissioner's website
  • Consent of service users – make sure that service users provide information willingly.  Let them know that completion of the equalities monitoring form is voluntary, and that it is anonymised.  Explain clearly how information will be used, and who it will be shared with. 
  • Publishing information – when you analyse equalities information, make sure that no-one could identify an individual from this.  For example, if the numbers in one category are very small, it may be possible to identify the individuals involved.  Be particularly careful when analysing multiple equalities issues – for example older LGB people.  Under no circumstances should an individual be able to be identified from published information. 
  • The right to check information – if you are a public authority, you must make sure that service users know they have the right to see the information you hold on them, and have any incorrect information deleted.  If equalities monitoring is done anonymously, obviously this information won’t be stored on the individual’s file.  But if you link information to individuals to track progress, it might make people feel happier if they can check what information you hold.