What records am I allowed access to?

The Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the general right to see personal information that organisations hold about you. The law protects you in two ways. It says that organisations with personal information about you should handle it with care by making sure it is accurate and also secure. The law also says that you have a right to see any of the personal information about you that organisations have and that you can correct any information that is wrong.  These rights are slightly different in relation to school, health, housing and social work records, whether they are held on computer or paper. For more information on accessing personal information see: http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/personal_information You can also request information from a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The information requested under this law is not information specifically about you, but general information such as how the public authority came to a certain decision or how it spends public money. More information on the Freedom of Information Act can be found at: Requesting Information from Public Bodies http://ico.org.uk/Global/faqs/requesting#f6F077BED-9486-4B1F-998D-ED5045CB85DF

How old do I have to be to access information about me?

In Scotland, if you are under the age of 16, you have the right of access (or refuse access by others) to your records if you have a general understanding of what it means to exercise that right. Generally, if you are over the age of 12 you are presumed to be old enough to have the required understanding, but the age of 12 is a guide only. It is for the person holding the records to decide whether you have the necessary maturity and understanding to request them.

Can I access my school records?

Yes, you have a right to a copy of your own information held by the Local Authority in charge of your school or directly from the Governing Body if your school is independent. It is likely that your personal information will be held on what is known as an ‘educational record’. You have to make a request in writing to your local authority to see your educational record. The Local Authority or school will not let you see information about you if they think that it will cause you or someone else serious physical or mental harm. They may also not disclose any information which also identifies another person, such as another pupil, and that person has not given permission for you to see that information. They may also withhold information provided by the Children’s Reporter for a children’s hearing, information contained in adoption records, copies of examination scripts or examination results before they are announced. Your parent can also see your educational record, unless the Local Authority or school think that disclosure to your parent “would be likely to cause significant distress or harm” to you or any other person. For more detailed information on educational records see: Accessing Pupil’s Information http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/topic_specific_guides/schools/pupils_info

What about medical records?

Your GP surgery has your medical records as well as a summary of any hospital tests or treatment you may have had. If you want to read your health records, you can ask in your GP surgery and arrange a time to go in and read them. You don’t have to give a reason for wanting to see your records though you may have to write to your GP with your request. Any hospitals where you have had treatment or tests will hold records of this and you should write to the medical records manager at the hospital. Your optician and dentist will also hold records about you. Again, your GP or hospital will not let you see information about you if they think that it will cause you or someone else serious harm or if it discloses information about somebody else. For more detailed information on health records see: http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/topic_specific_guides/health

Can I see what my Social Work Records say?

Yes, the rules apply to Social Work too but with the same exceptions that apply to your educational and health records. The Social Work Authority, like schools and GPs, do not have to disclose information provided by the Children’s Reporter for a children’s hearing or information contained in adoption records.    

Will it cost me anything?

That depends. You should be able to see your records for free, however if you would like copies to take away the organisation may charge you depending on how much information you want. You should ask about any charges when making your request. For more information on any of the above, see: What’s On My Record? 

NOTE: This factsheet is intended as a guide to the law as at December 2017 and not as an authoritative statement and interpretation of the law.