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Privacy Notice

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



This notice explains how we collect and handle 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 and we will publish a report or reports.  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 (or use) your personal data for a number of reasons, but all of those reasons help us to fulfil our Terms of Reference, which we are legally required to do.

How we collect personal data

When someone 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 that we know what information is 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 the personal data which you provide to us, 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 including our timetable and to help us decide which institutions may need the closest investigation.

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

What sort of data we collect

We collect data about children in care, data about the commission of acts or omissions that constitute abuse and data about the impact of abuse. We collect and retain contact details, and data known as special category data and information about criminal convictions. 

The records that we recover might include personal data including sensitive personal data, relating to criminal convictions, offences, or a person’s sex 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 confidential basis, to organisations which provided residential care or people named as abusers, to organisations which hold records which could assist the Inquiry with its investigations, to experts or to the police.

In some cases your data may be made public, to allow us to fulfil our terms of reference. The Inquiry is extremely careful about what data is made public and we follow a very clear set of rules to make sure that this is done correctly.

Some people are entitled to remain anonymous (i.e. their identity is kept private), and any published information will hide any details that might lead to you being identified if you are entitled to anonymity. Who we consider is entitled to anonymity is set out in the Chair’s General Restriction Order, which you can see here:

If you are concerned or unsure about whether your personal information may be made public, for example via our website or in a final report, 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”. This means that she is responsible in law for all our information - how it is held and how it is used or destroyed.

Each year the Inquiry registers with the Information Commissioner – who supervises the Data Protection Act in the UK. A copy of our current registration certificate is available here:

Data retention

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

We are required to transmit certain records, including personal and sensitive personal data, to the Keeper of the Records of Scotland at the end of the Inquiry.


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 compliance with our legal obligation; sometimes it will be that we are carrying out  a public task or 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 a law. In our case that law is set down in the Inquiries Act 2005. It is this Act that allows a minister to set up an inquiry and it tells us what we must do and how we must do it.

Carrying out a public task means that the processing we carry out is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in us. In our case, the entire purpose of this Inquiry is to benefit the public, by understanding what has happened in the past and to recommend improvements for the future.

Using the personal data in pursuit of our legitimate interest means that we are carrying out necessary processing for the purpose of our interest in fully carrying out our investigations, and creating a clear public record of the events, findings and recommendations. We can rely upon this lawful basis only when we believe our interest is 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 your request to assert your rights under the GDPR. Sometimes it will be correct to comply even if there is an exemption that we can rely upon. Sometimes it will not be correct for us to comply - this will be especially the case if complying with your request would make it more difficult for us to fulfil our Terms of Reference or 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 we might decline your request, 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 may hinder our ability to fulfil our terms of reference.


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 to the Hearings 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 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 the 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 Track and Protect is voluntary, it is critical 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


If you wish to make a complaint about how the Inquiry has handled your personal data, in the first instance please contact

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

UK Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane



Last updated September 2020