Your prison record
Your prison record is information the prison keeps about you on paper and on the computer.
It includes information like:
- your name and date of birth
- which cell you are in
- information about when you went to court
- any adjudications you have had while in prison
- information about your health
- information about any work or education you are doing.
Information should be kept confidential. This means staff should not share it with people who do not need to know, such as other prisoners. This includes information like what offence you have been convicted of.
Your prison number
You will be given a prison number when you first come to prison.
The number will stay the same if you move to another prison or if you are in prison more than once.
The number helps prison staff keep track of you and your things.
Other services such as healthcare service and resettlement advice services may also hold information about you. They will often use different computer systems and files.
Can I get a copy of my records?
The law says you have the right to see information that is held about you by the prison service, as well as healthcare and probation. This law is included in The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).
A request to see information about you is called a Subject Access Request.
There is some information which will not be shared with you. This can include information such as names of other people or information that has been gathered to stop a crime. For example, some information in your security file might not be shared with you.
You may not be told if information has been withheld from you. If you think they have not shared information which they should have shared you can ask the Information Commissioner to investigate. See below for contact details.
Making a Subject Access Request
The service which hold your records, such as the prison service or healthcare, is known as the data controller. You should make sure any request for information is directed towards the data controller who has the information you want.
To see your records write to the relevant data controller, such as the prison, telling them which information you would like to see. Write ‘DPA Subject Access Request’ at the top. You can do this with on a normal application form.
Your request will be sent to the prison service data protection team. You should receive the information within 1 month of making the request.
Can I be charged for a Subject Access Request?
The prison cannot charge a fee to comply with a subject access request.
The only exceptions are if a request is clearly excessive, or if a person requests further copies of their data following a request, when a “reasonable fee” could be charged.
What if my record is wrong or I disagree with it?
If there is a fact in your file which is incorrect, let the data controller know. They should try to check this. The more important the consequences for you, the more effort they should make to check it is correct.
If the fact is proved to be incorrect, then the Data Controller should change or delete it
If there is a fact, or opinion in your file you disagree with, but cannot be clearly proved or disproved, the Data Controller should make a note on your record that you do not agree with the information.
Complaining about my record
You can complain about the contents of your file using the normal complaints procedure for that data controller. Our information sheet about ‘How to make a complaint in prison’ has more information.
If you are not happy with the response you can then ask The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to look into it. You contact the ICO by calling 0303 123 1113 or find more information on the ICO website.
You should do this within a year of first seeing the information you are unhappy with. The ICO can tell the data controller to make changes.
You can also speak to the Prison and Probation Ombudsman. Our information sheet about ‘How to make a complaint in prison’ has more information.
You may be able to take a claim to the county court. There is more information on this in Prisoner Advice Service information sheet ‘Data Protection Act’. The ICO may also be able to give more advice about this.
Useful policy documents:
- Prisoner Complaints Policy Framework
- Information Requests Policy Framework
- Information Security Policy Framework