After spending a considerable time under the
care of the local authority I felt that I would like to see the
records the organisation had held on me. After picking up a leaflet
from the local social services department, entitled 'Requesting
your social services records,' I filled it in and sent it off. Six
months passed and nothing...and then another six months.....and
after eighteen months of nothing I decided to contact the department
to chase up my application. I was told that 'due to a high volume
of requests it would take a considerable time before I received
my file.' After twenty four months of waiting I finally received
my file, and this section will show just some of the
information I received.....Below are a few basic Q & A's, taken
from my local department, and you can click on the buttons
to the right to get an over view of what I received information
wise - but this is only an overview and not the full amount of information
received. Within the documentation received some of the text has
been hidden by the social services due to data protection. I have
also anonymised every person, including myself, involved in the
How to access information held about you by Social Services
The Access to Personal Files Act 1987 defined your rights to be able to see
"accessible personal information". In line with this legislation, Social
Services firmly believes that individuals have a right to see the information
kept about themselves on our records.
The Policy only applies to records held since 1 January 1988.
However, requests for access to information held on records which were kept
before this date, will be considered.
Social Services provides a wide range of services to the public. To provide
an effective service, we have to obtain relevant information, keep a record of
what help people are requesting and what services they are receiving.
Alongside other professionals, like your doctor, bank manager or employer, we
take this responsibility very seriously and aim to ensure that confidential
information is kept securely.
Therefore, if you see a Social Worker, receive a service in your home (such
as home help), attend a Day Centre or live in one of our Residential homes, we
will need to keep a record of our work with you.
We need to keep important details, such as names and addresses of family
members, schools and doctors etc., in order to know who to contact should the
need to do so arise.
We also need a factual record of how we have assessed your needs and the
service provided so that if, for example, the worker involved with you is
unavailable, other staff can help you.
- What information can I see?
Only you can see the record of your involvement with the Social Services.
Other people, including members of your family, cannot see your file without
In the same way, you can not see information about other people, including
members of your family without their permission. This applies whether you are a
child, young person or an adult.
- What information canít I see?
You will not be able to see information:
- which is given to us, in confidence, by an individual or agency, unless the
people or person has given prior permission.
- which is about another person unless you have their permission.
- when we believe that serious harm to your physical or mental health, or that
of someone else, would result. This is very rare and we would have to be able to
provide very good evidence of our concerns.
- where there are clear legal reasons, for example where the holding of the
information is to prevent a crime and giving access to the information would
make the crime more likely to occur. Again this would be exceptional.
Records have to kept of any refusal to show information so that the reasons
can be checked and appeals investigated.
- How to gain access to your records
Ask the member of staff with whom you have the most contact. They will then
make the necessary arrangements.
If it is agreed that you can see your records, access will normally be
arranged within two weeks.
Arrangements will be made for you to see your records at one of our local
offices. If you wish, you may be accompanied by a friend or relative.
If you have difficulty reading your records we can make someone available to
You will not be allowed to take your file away, but you can take a photocopy
of any of the information in it, for which there is a small fee.
If you wish to change any information held on the file, you should tell a
member of staff who will arrange for the record to be altered or for your own
comments to be added.
You can appeal against any decision to refuse to show you all or parts of
your records. However, you will need to be aware of the exceptions listed above
in the "What information canít you see?" section.
To appeal, you should write to the Head of Social and Housing Services who
will choose a member of staff to look into your appeal and report back to him
about your situation.
If after an appeal, you are still unhappy with the decision, you can make a
final appeal to a panel of County Councilors, by again writing to the Director.