Processing ‘special categories’ of personal data

Some personal information is more sensitive than others. As such special rules apply when processing these ‘special categories’ of personal data. Special categories of personal data are:

  • health related
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinions
  • religious and philosophical beliefs
  • trade union membership
  • genetic data
  • biometric data (such as facial images) and genetic data (such as a biological sample)
  • sex life or sexual orientation

The council processes special category data such as ethnicity, first language, gender, sexual orientation and age to analyse the population of the area and the take up of our services. This is to help comply with our legal obligations to ensure fair and equal access to council services and to plan the provision of services in the future. Such analysis will not identify individuals or have impact on entitlement to services and facilities.

The processing of criminal offence data also has additional legal safeguards. Criminal offence data includes information about criminal allegations, criminal offences, criminal proceedings and criminal convictions.

Processing of these types of personal data is prohibited unless one of the conditions below applies:

  • the citizen has given explicit consent to the processing
  • it is necessary for the purposes of carrying out the obligations and exercising specific rights of the council or of the citizen in the field of employment and social security and social protection law (For example, employee equal opportunities data)
  • processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the citizen or of another natural person, where the citizen is physically or legally incapable of giving consent (For example, a life or death situation)
  • processing is carried out by a not-for-profit entity with a political, philosophical, and religious or trade union aim in the course of its legitimate activities
  • processing relates to personal data which is manifestly made public by the citizen (The personal data is already in the public domain)
  • processing is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims
  • processing is permitted where it is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, for example, a natural disaster
  • processing is necessary for the purposes of preventive or occupational medicine, for the assessment of the working capacity of the employee, medical diagnosis, the provision of health or social care or medical treatment
  • processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, such as protecting against serious cross border threats to health (such as foot and mouth disease)
  • processing is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes

Appropriate policy document

The Data Protection Act 2018 outlines the requirement for an Appropriate Policy Document (APD) to be in place when processing special category and criminal offence data under certain specified conditions.

Download the Appropriate Policy Document.

Page last updated: 1 May 2024

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