Subject Access Requests
What is a subject access request?
Under data protection legislation, individuals (data subjects) have the right to request that a data controller provides them with the following:
- Confirmation that their personal data is being processed
- Access to their personal data
- Other supplementary information about the processing of their personal data.
A Subject Access Request (SAR) is simply a request made by, or on behalf of, an individual. Some requests are directly outside the scope of the subject access request regime and are handled by other processes:
Exam scripts and SARS
A specific exemption exists in data protection legislation for access to information recorded by students during academic, professional or other exams. A SAR would not result in the provision of the work that the student submitted, however a copy of the comments recorded by examiners when marking scripts may be made available.
How do I make a Subject Access Request
A subject access request can be submitted verbally or in writing, but must describe the personal data required. Using the University's Subject Access Form (PDF) will aid you in providing as much detail as possible relating to the request and will reduce the potential for delays pending clarification. If you are unable to make a request in writing, telephone the Data Protection Department on +44 114 222 1117 and we will make arrangements to help you submit a request.
Proof of identification must be provided, comprising a copy of an official document containing photographic identification, e.g. passport or driving licence.
You can submit the form and/or proof of identification by email to email@example.com, but note that the University will only begin to process a request once it is in receipt of all items.
We may need to provide the response in an accessible format and will work with you to establish what is appropriate.
What happens once I have submitted a request?
The University will send you an acknowledgement of the request. If we need any clarification, or if proof of ID, we will contact you as soon as possible. Once we are in receipt of a clear request and proof of ID we will begin to locate and collate the relevant personal data.
What information will I receive?
The subject access right allows individuals the right to access personal data of which they are the subject. It does not provide the right to access entire documents if the documents do not fully comprise the personal data of the individual. Therefore, in response to a subject access request, an individual may receive partial or redacted documents.
Can I access the personal data of other individuals?
An individual only has the right to access personal data of which they are the subject and there is no right of access to the personal data of friends or family. However, there are some instances in which a request made on behalf of another individual or for a specific purpose (such as the detection or prevention of crime) will be considered.
When will I receive a response to my request?
Under data protection legislation, the University must respond within one calendar month of receiving a request and proof of ID, unless the request is particularly complex, in which case the deadline may be extended by a further two months. Where the University needs to extend a deadline we will inform the requester of this.
How will I receive copies of personal data in response to my request?
Copies of personal data will normally be sent either electronically (by email attachment, using password protection and encryption) or in hard copy (by the Royal Mail's 'Signed For' service). If you prefer, you can request that we provide personal data to you orally, but we will only do so if we are able to verify your identity first.
What if I am dissatisfied with the University's response to my request?
If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your subject access request has been processed or dissatisfied with the response that you have been given, please write to the Data Protection Officer in the first instance (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that the University is provided with the opportunity to review the matter and respond to your concerns.
You can also ask the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to carry out an assessment to see whether it is likely or unlikely that the University has responded properly. The ICO can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Tel: 0303 1231113
Making a third party request for personal data
There are some circumstances under which the University will consider a request for access to personal data on behalf of another individual, or a request for access to personal data of another individual without their consent. These are:
- The requestor is the parent of a child aged 12 years or under
- The requestor has the written permission to make a request on behalf of another individual
- The requestor has Power of Attorney or an order from the Court of Protection to act on behalf of another individual
- The University believes that it is in the best interests of an individual who does not have the capacity to make a request themselves
- The University deems that release can be justified under crime and taxation provisions.
In these circumstances the University may seek further information from the requestor in order to help determine whether we are willing to release any personal data.
A request for access to personal data made on behalf of a child
Children aged 13 and above are generally deemed mature enough to make decisions about the processing of their personal data and would normally be expected to submit a subject access request themselves. Where a parent of a child over the age of 13 submits a subject access request on the child's behalf, the University may contact the child to request their consent to the release of the personal data, or require the parent to provide written consent from the child.
A parent has the right to request access to their child's personal data, where the child is under 13 years old. The University will decide whether it is in the best interests of the child to make the disclosure. Please follow the subject access request process above, submitting a copy of a form of ID for yourself and your child.
A request for access to personal data made on behalf of an adult
A request for access to personal data made on behalf of an adult will need to be accompanied by a signed letter from the data subject which contains consent to the release of all or specific personal data to the requestor. Such requests are typically made by solicitors acting on behalf of a client.
A request for access to personal data made on behalf of an adult who does not have the capacity to make a request for themselves will need to be accompanied by proof that the requestor has the authority to act on behalf of the data subject, such as through Power of Attorney or an order from the Court of Protection. Where authority is not provided, the University will consider on a case by case basis whether release of the personal data requested is in the best interests of the data subject. Please follow the subject access request process above, submitting a copy of a form of ID for yourself and the data subject and proof of your authority to act on behalf of the data subject.