For many people who have experienced involvement with Children’s Services, accessing your records can be helpful and important. There are many reasons you may wish to access your files; you may want to understand decisions, make sense of and piece together your past, or may wish to seek answers to unanswered questions.
Sometimes the information contained in your records can be difficult and you may want some support understanding and looking through these. We can't guarantee support, however we can ask if a worker is able to go through this with you.
You have a legal right under the Data Protection Act 2018 to request access to information that the council holds about you.
Depending on the type of involvement with Children’s Services, local authorities have legal timescales in which they have to retain your records. For example, local authorities must retain the records for anyone who was in care for 75 years.
This means you have the time to consider if accessing your records is right for you, and when might be the right point in your life to do this.
There are a few options for how to find out and access information:
Sometimes the information contained in your records can be difficult and you may want some support understanding and looking through these. You can ask for a worker you trust to go through these with you, however sometimes this might not be able to happen.
If you are entitled to advocacy support you can ask an advocate to help you with requesting access to your records.
You can request access to information that the council holds about you by submitting a Subject Access Request. This can be done by sending an email. Your email will need to include the following information to make sure the council can confirm who you are and identify your information:
You should also confirm how you would like to access your information; for example, would you like a worker to go through your records with you or help you understand any information? Would you like a copy sending to your home address?
You should send your request to the Information Governance Team on email: [email protected].
When you have submitted your subject access request, the council has 1 month to provide you with your information. Sometimes the council may need longer and can extend this by a further 2 months. If this happens they will contact you within 1 month to let you know.
Your right to access information only includes information about you. The means you won't see information about anyone else other than yourself. There may also be other reasons some information is not provided and if this happens this will be explained to you.
When there is information that cannot be shared with you, what you will see on your files is certain sections that are blacked out. This can be really hard to look at, particularly when you are trying to understand your story, but workers will try to answer any questions you have.