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Personal data runs through the veins of our organisation

We all need to protect personal information, we do this every time we lock our mobile phones, for example. It’s also important that we, as Civil Servants, protect the personal information that others share with us to help us create a great place.

We are getting ready for the big changes to data protection coming in May and, as part of the Defra Knowledge and Information team within Digital Data and Technology Services (DDTS), I am leading the work to make sure our customers and staff understand how to protect personal data.

Telling our customers

We collect personal data so we can carry out our environmental work. We have many different customers: people who submit information requests, members of the public who report a problem in their local environment, recipients of payments and many others. The Data Protection Bill introduces stronger rights for each one of those individuals. We need to tell our customers what we’ll do with their personal data. We will also make it easier for customers to understand how we will use their data and how they can access or change it. We’re aiming to do this by making it easy for our customers to learn about their data rights and how they apply across our many uses of data in Defra group.

Preparing our staff

Personal data runs through the veins of our organisation and we need to be confident we use the right data in the right way.

All our staff handle personal data in one form or another. That’s why we’re raising awareness on the importance of looking after it. We will inform staff on the changes to the law and the actions they can take now to get ready. We will also ensure everyone has refreshed their training on looking after personal and sensitive information.

Protecting data doesn’t mean that we won’t share it with others if we need to. By sharing our farming data across the Defra group we avoid duplication for the customer and save them (and us) a lot of time and effort. But it’s important that the data is shared properly and that the right people have access.

We are focussing on getting the basics right by making sure:

  • We know what personal data we hold, where we hold it and how we use it
  • We are deleting what we no longer need
  • Our staff know what they need to do to manage data well

Our staff are our first line of defence in protecting internal and customer data. By ensuring they’re aware of, and working to, the latest legislation with the right tools and training we can be confident in our continued safe and secure management of personal data. I’m really pleased to be part of the team making this happen.

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