Helpline open 9am – 7:30pm Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm Weekends & Bank Holidays
LawCare is committed to providing a high quality service to the legal community. We hold the privacy and dignity of those seeking our support in high regard, and we recognise the importance of confidentiality in our interactions with individuals who contact us for help. It is important that anyone contacting LawCare has complete confidence and trust in our services. Our service is confidential and we protect any information that individuals choose to share with us.
Any information that an individual discloses to a member of the Helpline team, (both staff and volunteers) is treated respectfully and sensitively. The Helpline team work closely to ensure that individuals receive the best support we can offer, so sometimes it is necessary to share information within the team. Personal information conveyed to LawCare will not be shared with non-Helpline staff and volunteers or external organisations without explicit and informed consent (other than in the exceptional circumstances listed below). Sometimes in order to help an individual we may need to liaise with external organisations so that we can provide effective support eg contacting other support agencies or counsellors. In these circumstances we will ask for permission to share any relevant information.
Exceptional circumstances and limitations to confidentiality
There are rare instances when we are unable to maintain our commitment to confidentiality. These are circumstances where:
In such circumstances we would seek to obtain consent prior to disclosure of any personal information, but if the risk of non-disclosure is judged by the helpline team, the CEO and the Chair to be sufficiently serious, the information will be disclosed without consent.
Individuals may provide information of a personal and sensitive nature about their health, finances, work circumstances or personal difficulties. A record of the discussion will be kept to ensure that the appropriate response is provided, particularly if the individual contacts LawCare again. Notes may record the key points or issues raised, the information given by Helpline staff/volunteers, relevant background information and any follow-up action, as well as contact details if disclosed. Access to this information is limited to staff only on a need-to-know basis.
We keep computer-based records of all the information provided to us. All personal and sensitive data is processed in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.
We collect routine statistical information about those using our services, which is anonymised and used for reporting and evaluation purposes. This information may be summarised and used in LawCare publications. We take great care to ensure that no individually identifiable information is disclosed.
The period for which records are held before destruction is informed by current data protection legislation and good practice within the helpline sector.
Access to Records
Under the Data Protection Act (1998) individuals have the right to access information held about them. Individuals may request a copy of the personal data held about them by LawCare by emailing email@example.com
LawCare needs to keep certain information on its service users, employees, volunteers and trustees to carry out its day to day operations, to meet its objectives and to comply with legal obligations.
The organisation is committed to ensuring any personal data will be dealt with in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. To comply with the law, personal information will be collected and used fairly, stored safely and not disclosed to any other person unlawfully.
The aim of this policy is to ensure that everyone handling personal data is fully aware of the requirements and acts in accordance with data protection procedures. This document also highlights key data protection procedures within the organisation.
This policy covers employed staff, trustees and volunteers.
In line with the Data Protection Act 1998 principles, LawCare will ensure that personal data will:
The definition of ‘Processing’ is obtaining, using, holding, amending, disclosing, destroying and deleting personal data. This includes some paper based personal data as well as that kept on computer.
The Personal Data Guardianship Code suggests five key principles of good data governance on which best practice is based. LawCare will seek to abide by this code in relation to all the personal data it processes, i.e.
Under the Data Protection Guardianship Code, overall responsibility for personal data in a not for profit organisation rests with the governing body. In the case of LawCare this is the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees delegates tasks to the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive is responsible for:
All employed staff, trustees and volunteers who process personal information must ensure they not only understand but also act in line with this policy and the data protection principles.
Breach of this policy will result in disciplinary action for staff, and/or action judged appropriate by the Chief Executive and Board of Trustees for staff and volunteers.
To meet our responsibilities, staff, volunteers and trustees will:
We will ensure that:
Staff and Volunteers are trained about the Data Protection Act and how it is followed on induction by the Chief Executive (for staff) and during initial training (for volunteers).
Gathering and checking information
Before personal information is collected we will consider whether it is required, and whether the purposes for which it is required are in the caller’s interests.
We will inform people whose information is gathered that we will keep a brief note on LawCare’s secure server, and direct them to the terms of the confidentiality and data protection policies on our website.
We will take measures to ensure that personal information kept is accurate, including reading back phone numbers and checking spelling of unusual names with the caller.
Personal sensitive information will not be used apart from the exact purpose for which permission was given.
LawCare will take steps to ensure that personal data is kept secure at all times against unauthorised or unlawful loss or disclosure. It will do this by keeping data on a secure server only accessible by staff with individual login details and passwords. Personal data may not be printed, downloaded or otherwise removed from the server. Laptops and other devices should not be left logged into the server when not in use, or when in an unsecure or public location.
Any unauthorised disclosure of personal data to a third party by an employee may result in disciplinary proceedings.
Any unauthorised disclosure of personal data to a third party by a volunteer or trustee may result in whatever remedial action is deemed appropriate by the Chief Executive.
Subject Access Requests
Anyone whose personal information we process has the right to know:
They also have the right to prevent processing of their personal data in some circumstances and the right to correct, rectify, block or erase information regarded as wrong.
Individuals have a right under the Act to access certain personal data being kept about them on computer and certain files. Any person wishing to exercise this right should apply in writing to Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive, PO Box 5192, Bath BA1 0UB.
Before access is granted we will require information sufficient to identify without doubt the correct file. We will also require proof of identity of the person making the request.
Queries about handling personal information will be dealt with swiftly and politely.We will aim to comply with requests for access to personal information as soon as possible, but will ensure it is provided within the 40 days required by the Act from receiving the written request.
This policy will be reviewed at intervals of 2 years to ensure it remains up to date and compliant with the law.
We aim to provide a high quality support and information service to people working within the legal community and their families. It’s important that we know about any problems so we can deal with them quickly and effectively.
We recognise that sometimes our service may not meet people’s needs or expectations and when this happens it’s important that we know about it so we can respond to any problems. This also helps us to continue to improve the service we offer.
What to do if you have a complaint about LawCare’s service, staff or volunteersPlease contact the Chief Executive by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO, LawCare PO Box 5192, Bath BA1 0UB
If your complaint is about the CEO please put this in writing to the Chair, Bronwen Still, PO Box 147, Benfleet, SS7 3WZ or email email@example.com
All complaints are confidential and will be acknowledged in writing within 3 days and where possible the outcome of any investigation notified to you within in 14 days.
ProcessThe CEO will notify the Chair of any complaint received. The complaint will be investigated by discussing it with relevant staff/volunteer/team and the complainant. The CEO will respond on behalf of LawCare (in consultation with the Chair) to the complainant and take any appropriate follow up action. Where the complaint is about the CEO, the Chair will follow the same process and consult with the Board.
The response may include:
There is no right of appeal to the Chair or Trustees as all complaints are responded to in consultation with them.
LawCare welcomes feedback on its service. When a compliment is received, either by email, phone, or other means, the member of staff receiving the communication will:
Where permission has been given the quote or email is recorded in a document accessible only by LawCare staff. Details of the caller/sender are removed, as are names of staff members, volunteers or peer supporters, and any other details which might identify any individual. The date and method by which the complimentary quote was received are also recorded. This document provides source material for quotes used on LawCare’s website, annual report, and other literature.
Where possible, the quote is also recorded against the file of a former helpline caller.
Where permission is not given either to report the compliment to other members of staff, or to record it, no note of the telephone call is taken, or the email is deleted.
The caller/sender may contact LawCare at any point in future to request that their quote is not used, even if permission had originally been given. It will then be deleted from LawCare’s system and no longer used on promotional materials.