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Privacy statement

1. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) is a Public Authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  PPO is also registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office, to process personal information for the purposes of:

  • Investigating complaints made against prison, secure training centre, probation and immigration detention service provider
  • Investigating deaths of those held in prison, secure training centre or immigration detention and those held in probation approved premises
  • Promoting lessons learned from investigations, including publishing an annual report.

2. PPO investigations are conducted according to the Terms of Reference set by the Secretary of State for Justice.  The purpose of any PPO investigation is to:

  • find out what happened
  • to try to find out why
  • to see whether there are any lessons to be learned and
  • to make recommendations for future practice, if appropriate.

3. This privacy statement tells you what to expect when the PPO collects personal information in order to satisfy its remit. We collect information from multiple sources and, at any one time, can be processing personal information about various individuals including:

  • witnesses
  • bereaved families
  • complainants or their representatives
  • the subject of a complaint or their representatives
  • individuals who we may contact when carrying out a complaint or death investigation
  • service providers
  • offenders and suspected offenders
  • individuals captured by CCTV images
  • survey respondents.

How we use personal information collected for the purpose of investigation

4. Personal information is only collected by the PPO for the purpose of investigation into either a complaint or a death in custody and to share the lessons learned from the incident. The type of personal information we collect about any one of the individuals listed above can include:

  • personal details
  • family details
  • lifestyle and social circumstances
  • financial details
  • employment and education details
  • details of complaints, incidents and grievances
  • visual images, personal appearance and behaviour.

5. We also process classes of sensitive information that may include:

  • physical or mental health details
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • religious or other beliefs
  • political opinions, sexual life
  • offences (including alleged offences)
  • criminal and legal proceedings, outcomes and sentences.

6. There may be occasions when the PPO is obliged to disclose personal data shared during the interview and wider investigation process. For instance, evidence provided to the PPO may be shared with specialist advisers and with other investigatory bodies including the police, where that is necessary for the purposes of the PPO investigation, for a criminal investigation or for the inquest in the case of a fatal incident investigation.

7. Personal information may also be shared with others including the family, associates and representatives of the person whose personal data we are processing; with those making an enquiry or complaint; with organisations subject to a complaint or investigation; with prosecuting authorities or courts; and with other central government bodies.

8. Investigation evidence is retained only for as long as is necessary in order to satisfy the Ombudsman’s remit, as described in his Terms of Reference. Agreed retention periods are outlined in the PPO’s Record Retention and Disposition Schedule.

Learning lessons from investigation

9. In order to share the lessons from individual investigations, and to prevent further complaints and the risk of more deaths in custody, illustrative case studies are published as part of the Ombudsman’s annual report and within his Learning Lessons publications.  All case studies are drafted in such a way as to exclude all personal data and so to protect the identification of the subject. Themes from investigations will also be identified and published in order to improve future practice.

Contact details

10. If you wish to get in touch with the PPO we can be contacted at:

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
PO Box 70769
Tel: 0207 633 4100
Fax: 0207 633 4141
E-mail: mail@ppo.gsi.gov.uk

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