The Diocese of Leeds' Privacy Notice can be found here .

Clergy and PCCs need to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force on May 25th 2018. And the best way to start is to follow our simple steps.

The General Data Protection Regulation is a stronger version of the Data Protection Act which we are already legally obliged to comply with.  It takes into account the massive changes in technology since the Data Protection Act was introduced in 1984. The GDPR enhances and strengthens an individual’s rights.

This guide is intended to give the Clergy as the Data Controller, PCCs and Data Compliance Officers information on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force on 25 May 2018.

This is not a definitive guide.There is a wealth of information on external websites such as the ICO. This document is designed to get PCCs thinking about the data they hold and what plans and actions they need to take to get compliant by the time the new regulation comes into being.

Each PCC will need a data controller and a data compliance officer. These are named individuals whose contact details appear on the consent forms and privacy notices.
The Data Compliance Officer will need to ensure that everyone in the PCC is aware of GDPR and that everyone takes responsibility for ensuring personal data is held securely and managed in compliance with the regulation. For clergy, the role is one of data controller which means they will need to ensure overall compliance within their benefice(s). 

This page includes details on

  • The steps you must take
  • The eight rights of data subjects



Important First Steps

Here are 7 key steps for PCCs to take before the regulations take affect.

1. Review all the personal data held.
  • What data do you hold?
  • Why do you hold it?
  • Who has access to the data?
  • How is the data secured?

Carry out a Data Audit Exercise. Examine the various types of data processing carried out, identify the legal basis for carrying it out and document it.A simple table listing what you hold and why etc.will highlight where the gaps in your compliance are.This review process is a good way to capture all the data held and will be a good point of discussion at a PCC meeting to decide what needs to be done next.
Who has access to the data should be clear. Only those that need to see it should have access.

2.  What policies and guidance do you already have in place?

The Church of England website has a wealth of guidance policies on its Record Management page and these should be referred to by PCCs to form the basis of their own policies.
A clear policy for the retention of data is essential and personal data must be erased, without delay when:

  • it is no longer necessary for purpose

  • the data subject withdraws consent

  • there is no longer any legal grounds to hold or process that data

Data cannot be kept indefinitely and PCCsmust remove data, when asked by the data subject. There are exceptions to this removal request:

  • For vital interests or public interest
  • Archiving in relation to public interest, scientific/historic and statistical research
  • Exercise of legal claims

If you already have Data Protection and retention policies in placereview existing policies and think about where the data is collected and how its usage is defined. Do the policies need to be amended to comply with GDPR?

3. Where is your data held?

Think about where your data is held and its security.

  • Does it reside with 3rd parties on IT systems such as cloud suppliers, church members homes etc.?

  • Of the data you hold about data subjects are these records electronic or paper based?

  • How are theIT or paper system protected? (Passwords, encryption, lockable drawers, safes).

  • Who needs authorised access to this data and information?

Any systems used to store or process data need to consider security as part of their implementation. You should only collect the data you need and keep it only as long as needed in order to fulfil an agreed purpose and then delete it.

This means PCCs need to think very carefully about what data they have on people, where it is and who has access to it. This will include the technology used and security in place. For example, data encryption would be one way in which computer data held can be secured.

4. Consent

Under GDPR, Consent cannot be assumed and must be laid out in simple terms in the forms individuals complete. Active consent is required and inactivity does not imply consent. Written consent is the recommended option because evidence of consent must be provided when asked by either individuals or the ICO. The person consenting must know exactly what the PCC propose to use their data for. If the data subject is under 16 then you must obtain parental consent. PCCs need to think about how they will handle requests to have data removed and how this would be done.
In order to achieve clear unambiguous consent from individuals to hold their data PCCs will probably need more than one consent form. One size will not fit all. Consent forms should clearly indicate how long the data will be held.
Children. GDPR sets the consent age at 16. Parental or guardian consent will be required if the person is under 16.
GDPR does not mean you cannot conduct “business as usual”. What it does mean is that when you do hold individual’s personal details, protecting these details is paramount andthe consent form must make clear what the data will be used for and for how long.
Practical Examples:

  • PCCs cannot collect data from parishioners to inform them about services and then use that data to fundraise. PCCs cannot profile certain people to target for fundraising. If you wish to use the personal information to contact individuals on fundraising the wording on the consent form must make this clear.
  • Information obtained from the Electoral Role cannot be used to direct mail individuals about events taking place unless you have explained this is what the information will also be used for and have the individuals explicit consent to contact them.
  • Personal data given for baptism, weddings and funerals cannot be used to mail individuals about services in the year unless the consent form makes it clear. In this case the form could say “ we would like to keep in touch with you for the next two years about all our children’s services or children’s events in the parish. Do you consent to your data being held for this additional purpose?” A clear yes I consent box or no I do not consent tick box and space for a signature would also be required together with a process in place to remove the data after the two years have lapsed.
  • The Youth Worker stores the contact details of the under 16 youth group on an excel spreadsheet on his/her laptop. In this example the consent would be needed from the parent, and the reason it is collected is so the youth worker can communicate about events by email or phone. The PCC should however be aware that personal data is stored on laptop, who has access to it and what security measures are in place on the device to secure the data.

Under GDPR consent can be withdrawn at any time by individuals andPCCs must act on these requests immediately and remove the data/paper files for their records.

5. 3rd Party Risk

Is data shared with people/ organisations outside of your PCC?
If any personal data you hold is “processed” by another company you would be wise to confirm the company complies with data protection and GDPR. For clarity, if they are breached and a complaint is upheld, you as the data controller (owner) remain equally liable. You will also need to review contracts held with companies that process data on your behalf. It is the PCC’s responsibility to ensure the “processor “processes the data you give them, in accordance with GDPR.
Contracts with third parties that have access to the personal data you hold should have a statement within the contract confirming they comply with GDPR. Companies must demonstrate that they have the appropriate policies and security measures in place to protect the data. In these circumstance the PCC is the controller of the data and the 3rd Party Company is the “processor” of the data.
Practical Examples

  • IT databases, IT systems.

  • CCTV. If that is managed by a third party off site and they have the recordings or have access to it. PCCs will need to obtain written confirmation that their company complies with the new GDPR rules. Full information on CCTV is in Appendix B

6. Subject Access Requests  (SAR)

Individuals have the right to request a copy of all the personal data held. This means providing copies of all electronic and paper documents that contain their details or reference to them.
Personal data also includes footage held on a CCTV system, where the individual is the focus of the footage and/or they are clearly identifiable.
You will also need to provide some additional information to peoplemaking requests, such as your data retention periods and the right tohave inaccurate data corrected.
The Data Compliance Officer (PCC Secretary is the obvious choice, but it could be a named employee) who will be the contact for any Subject Access Requests.
If the SAR request is valid and permissible the data has to be supplied within 30 days of the request being deemed valid. You should therefore ensure that the PCC and the Data Compliance Officer have procedures in place to comply with these requests promptly. Charging for requests is generally not permitted. Excessive requestscan be charged for or refused. If you want to refuse a request, you willneed to have policies and procedures in place to demonstrate why therequest meets these criteria.

What to do if you identify a breach

A personal data breach is a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.

If your data is breached and the data breached could cause material or emotional harm to the individual you have just 72 hours to declare it to the ICO and if severe then also the data subject. You need to do this from the point that you are aware. Note: If the data is breached but is encrypted, i.e. it cannot be accessed by anyone and therefore will not cause harm you do NOT need to declare the breach.
Practical Example

  • If a spreadsheet containing names and addresses of people under 16 was accessed by someone unauthorised that is a breach. For example, allowing someone other than the approved members of the PCC to view personal data, is a breach. Other breaches such as Malware (IT) attacks, equipment theft, ID credentials compromised are equally relevant.
7. Fines

The fines that can be imposed due to non-compliance depend on the severity of non-compliance. Examples of fines are:

  • A warning in writing in cases of first and non-intentional noncompliance

  • A fine up to 20 000 000 EUR

The eight rights of Data Subjects

PCCs need to note the eight key rights of data subjects.
(Data subject is the individual whose personal data is held).
1.  The right to be informed
2.  The right of access
3.  The right to rectification
4.  The right to erasure
5.  The right to restrict processing
6.  The right to data portability
7.  The right to object
8.  Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling
The right to be informed. In order to ensure that personal data is processed fairly, PCCs must provide certain minimum information to data subjects, regarding the collection and further processing of their personal data. GDPR states that such information must be provided in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.
The right of access. Data subjects have the right to file a subject access request (SAR) and obtain from PCCsvia the data compliance officer, a copy of their personal data, together with an explanation of the categories of data being processed, the purposes of such processing, and the categories of third parties to whom the data may be disclosed. GDPR requires PCCs to respond to SARs with information, including details of the period for which the data will be stored (or the criteria used to determine that period) and information about other rights of data subjects. SAR must be responded to within one month.
The right to rectification. Data subjects have the right to require PCCs to correct errors in personal data held.
The right to erasure. Data subjects can request PCCs delete their personal data when the datais no longer needed for its original purpose, or where the processing is based on the consent and the data subject withdraws that consent (and no other lawful basis for the processing exists).
The right to restrict processing. This is a new feature of GDPR.In certain circumstances when personal data either cannot be deleted because the data is required for the purposes of exercising or defending legal claims or where the data subject does not wish to have the data deleted, the PCC may continue to store the data, but the purposes for which the data can be processed are strictly limited. E.g. A marriage certificate is a legal document and a data subject could not request the information is deleted.
The right to data portability. This is a new feature of GDPR. This permits the data subject to receive a copy of his or her personal data in a commonly used electronic format.  E.g. Microsoft Word
The right to object. Data subjects have a right to object to processing of their personal data on certain grounds, in addition to the right to object to processing carried out for the purposes of profiling or direct marketing.
Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling. Data subjects have the right not to be subject to decisions based solely on automated processing which significantly affect them.  In reality for PCCs automated decisions are unlikely to be an issue but it is important to be aware of this right.
The Requirements of the GDPR
GDPR requires that personal data must be:

  • processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals; 
  • collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes; 
  • adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed; 
  • accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that inaccurate personal data is erased or rectified without delay; 
  • kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals; 
  • processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.

With grateful thanks and acknowledgement to the Diocese of Portsmouth for providing the source material.

Important Next Steps

The national Church of England Parish Resources website ( has the following useful links that you should read, and they contain useful documents for you to adept and use.

brief guide to GDPR
A more detailed guide for the person implementing this in the parish
simple checklist which covers the actions outlined in the guides to help PCCs monitor progress
template data audit document which will help you to identify the personal data that your parish stores and processes
Sample consent forms as parishes will need to make sure they have consent to communicate with those on the mailing lists
Parishes will also need to produce a privacy notice, and a sample privacy notice is given which can be amended and adopted. If you have a website, it is good practice to make it available online. Guidance on how you can write your own privacy notice is also available.
Finally – do check that your procedures are up-to-date, such as what to do if people request to see the data stored about them, and review your breach management procedures to ensure you know what to do in the event of a breach

Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the following link:

As things progress we will keep you up-to-date with developments – keep an eye on our website.


Care of parish records - keep or bin
Consent Form
Save or Delete - The Care of Diocesan Records


The Diocese of Leeds' Privacy Notice can be found here .

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