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Privacy Notice

This notice explains how we collect and handle your personal data.


This notice explains our approach to collecting and handling your personal data.

We are an independent public inquiry and we exercise statutory functions under the Inquiries Act 2005, in the public interest. We investigate the abuse of children in residential and foster care. We publish various documents relating to our investigations and findings, and sometimes this may include some personal data. We need to process personal data to enable us to carry out our work. 

We explain in this notice in general terms how we collect and handle personal data.

Why we process your personal data

We process your personal data for a number of reasons,  all of which help us to meet the requirement to fulfil our Terms of Reference.

How we collect personal data

When a person visits our website we collect information to measure the use of the website. We do not collect information that identifies anyone but we do track how many individuals have viewed different pages so  we know what information appears to be of most interest to the general public. Further information is provided on our website:


If you contact us by telephone, email or letter, or if you use the contact form on our website, we will retain any personal data  you provide to us in doing so, and we may use it to contact you about the work of the inquiry. We may also use it to help us with our investigations and to help us decide which institutions or organisations need to be investigated.

We may approach you to ask you to give evidence to the inquiry, in which case we will retain any additional personal data  you provide to us and we may use it to contact you about the work of the inquiry.

If you provide evidence whether by giving a statement to us,, or because you have received a statutory notice under section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005 requiring you to submit written evidence, or by attending the inquiry to give evidence in person, or in any other way, we will retain any personal data  you provide in doing so. Also we will retain any personal data which you provide in any correspondence or discussions we have with you in relation to your evidence.  We will use any such personal data  to help us with our investigations and/or otherwise to fulfil our Terms of Reference.

We also recover records from a range of sources, including providers of residential care for children, local authorities, the police and the Scottish Government.


What sort of data we collect

We collect data about children in care, data about the  abuse of children in care and data about the impact of such abuse. We collect and retain contact details, and data known as special category data and information about criminal convictions. 

The records we recover might include personal data including sensitive personal data such as data relating to a person’s criminal convictions, offences, private life or sexual orientation.

How personal data is held

We keep your personal data secure and only share it with those who need to see it.

Personal data is held in secure encrypted electronic storage systems that are only accessible by members of the Inquiry team. Any hard copy information is held in secure conditions within premises to which members of the public do not have access. 

All personal data we receive is handled fairly and lawfully in line with data protection legislation.

Who will personal data be shared with

We may have to disclose personal data, on a strictly confidential basis, to organisations which provided residential care for children, to  people who are alleged to have abused children in care, to organisations which hold records which could assist the Inquiry with its investigations, to experts or to the police.

In some cases, we may publicise your data to allow us to fulfil our Terms of Reference. However, we are extremely careful about what data is made public and we follow a  clear set of rules to ensure that this is done correctly.

Some people are entitled to remain anonymous (i.e. their identity is kept private), and their identities will be protected by appropriate redaction before publication. Details of those who are entitled to anonymity are set out in the Chair’s General Restriction Order, which you can see here: https://www.childabuseinquiry.scot/procedures/general-restriction-order/

If you are concerned or unsure about whether your personal information may be made public, you can ask our witness support team about whether you are entitled to anonymity.


Data controller

The Chief Executive to the inquiry is our “data controller”. As data controller, she is obliged by law to determine the purposes for and means by which we process all and any data including how it is held, how it is used, and when and/or how it is destroyed.

Each year the Inquiry registers with the Information Commissioner – who supervises  compliance with Data Protection legislation in the UK. A copy of our current registration certificate is available here: https://www.childabuseinquiry.scot/key-documents/ico-registration/.

Data retention

If you contact us by telephone, email or letter during the Inquiry, or if we contact you, we will retain any personal data which, in doing so, you provide to us. We will do so solely to enable us to carry out our work.  We will generally retain the data for the duration of the Inquiry.

Under our Terms of Reference we are required to create a national public record, and the Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquiries (Scotland) Rules 2007 require the Chair to keep a comprehensive record of the inquiry.  That means we must, at the end of the Inquiry, transmit certain records we hold, including personal and sensitive personal data, to the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.


The legal basis for processing personal data

We process personal data lawfully in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) and all other UK data protection legislation.

Our ‘lawful basis’,  as defined by the GDPR, is usually the need to comply with a legal obligation; the obligation relied on will usually be that we are carrying out  a  task we require, in the public interest, to perform and/or that we are pursuing our legitimate interest in fulfilling our Terms of Reference.

Complying with our legal obligation means we process your personal data because it is necessary for us to comply with the law that applies to us. In our case our legal obligations as a public inquiry are set out in the Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquiries (Scotland) Rules 2007. That Act empowers a government minister to set up a public  inquiry and it and those rules set out what we must do, what we have the power to do and certain procedures we must follow.

Under data protection laws, the processing we carry out must be  necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the Chair of the inquiry. In our case, all we do is for the benefit of the public, the inquiry having been established because the Scottish Ministers were satisfied it was appropriate to do so given the extent to which there was public concern about the abuse of children in care dating back over many years, the need to understand what happened in the past and the need to seek recommendations for the protection of children in care in the future.  

We also use personal data in pursuit of our legitimate interest, meaning that we  carry out necessary processing for the purpose of our interests in fully carrying out our investigations, in creating a clear public record of the nature and extent of abuse of children in care, in making findings and in deciding on and drafting appropriate recommendations.

We rely on these bases for processing only when we believe our interests are not overridden by your fundamental rights and freedoms.

Your rights in respect of your personal data

Sometimes the processing we carry out allows us to rely on one or more of the exemptions set down in the Data Protection Act 2018. If it does we then have to decide whether or not it remains appropriate to comply with any request you make to assert your rights under the GDPR. Sometimes we will comply even if there is an exemption that we can rely upon. Sometimes we  will conclude that it is not appropriate for us to comply - this will, for example,  be the case if complying with your request would make it more difficult for us to fulfil our Terms of Reference or if it puts another person’s personal data at risk of being revealed.

You have the right to request:

  • access to the personal data we hold about you
  • that incorrect information we hold about you, be corrected
  • that we stop or limit the processing of data we hold about you
  • that we erase the information we hold about you

In all cases we will consider your request very carefully. In some cases, if we believe that your information falls within one of the exemptions set down in the Data Protection Act 2018 and that compliance with your request could hinder our ability to fulfil our Terms of Reference, we might decline your request.

COVID- 19: Return to Hearings

This privacy statement has been updated in response to COVID-19 and is intended to provide information about changes in practice implemented for those visiting the Inquiry venue, and to reassure you that any information gathered in relation to the Test and Protect scheme is being shared appropriately by the Inquiry with NHS Scotland and all relevant public health bodies.


As part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect Service, organisations have been requested to implement the voluntary process of gathering minimal contact details from customers or visitors when on their premises. This measure came into effect on 15 July 2020 and is part of the national effort to suppress the spreading of COVID-19.


As a result, visitors attending the Hearings venue will be asked provide their name and telephone number. This information provided will be collected and held solely for the purpose of sharing with the NHS Test and Protect Service if requested and retained for no longer than 21 days. All contact information from visitors, collected by the Inquiry, will be processed in a secure and safe manner and in addition this will assist NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service to identify and contact individuals who may have been exposed to the virus.


Where members of the public are attending hearings as a small household group, the contact details for one member – a ‘lead member’ – will be sufficient and the size of the group will be noted.


Our ‘Lawful Basis’  for processing this information (as defined by the GDPR) qualifies under the lawful basis of ‘Legitimate Interest’. As providing this information is voluntary, you have the right to object and/or request for your data to be erased. The Inquiry will respect your choice to refuse to comply with this process. However, please be aware that the Inquiry also has the right to refuse entry to the Hearings.


Although collecting contact details for Test and Protect is voluntary, we recognise the Scottish Government’s view that it is important to national efforts to suppress the virus.


Contact and complaints

If you wish to contact us about the terms of this privacy notice, please write to SCAIdataprotection@childabuseinquiry.scot

If you wish to make a complaint about how the Inquiry has handled your personal data, in the first instance please contact kathleen.wilson@childabuseinquiry.scot

If you are unhappy with the outcome of discussions with us you are entitled to  contact the Information Commissioner’s Office online at: Your personal information concerns | ICO, by calling their helpline on 0303 123 1113 or by writing to them:

UK Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane



Last updated  August 2021