What is the Data Protection Act?
The processing of personal data relating to living individuals is governed by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Under DPA, individuals can seek information about themselves, held on computer and in paper records, via a 'Subject Access Request' (SAR).
Who can request information?
A SAR is usually made by the subject to whom the data relates. Applications for third parties may be made in certain circumstances.
Solicitors representing an individual. The solicitor must provide a letter, signed by the subject, to authorise this;
Where the subject is an adult incapable of managing their own affairs, requests can be accepted from third parties appointed by a court of law to maange those affairs;
Where a child does not have capacity to make their own SAR, a person with parental responsiblity may make a SAR on that child's behalf.
How to Submit a Subject Access Request
A SAR must include
Your full name and address
Your contact telephone number and email
2 forms of identification
Proof of authority (if appropriate) to obtain another individual's information, and proof of their identity
SARs must be submitted in writing via email: FOI.BSO@hscni.net
I have requested data - what happens next?
RQIA has 40 calendar days to give you a response. The time starts once we have all the information required (i.e. details of request and proof of identification).
What information will you receive?
You are entitled to a copy of the information that RQIA holds about you and a description of the purposes for which RQIA uses your information.
There are legal reasons ('exemptions') under the Act that mean we may withold information. You can view the act, and exemptions, in full at:
We will tell you if any information has been taken out of the copy provided to you, and give you an explanation of the exemption(s) used.
If we do not hold the information you have requested we will inform you as soon as possible.
What if RQIA cannot release information?
RQIA will tell you why all, or part, of your request has been withheld. If you are unhappy with this decision, you should first ask for an interview review. You should direct this request, along with your name and contact details, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If the matter cannot be resolved and you remain unhappy, you can ask the Northern Ireland Information Commissioner to decide if your request has been dealt with correctly.
The Northern Ireland Information Commissioner
51 Adelaide Street
Or by email: email@example.com