General Privacy Notice

This privacy notice tells you how the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (the Office) uses your personal information.

This Office provides an independent, impartial system for the handling of complaints about the conduct of police officers.

This Privacy Notice tells you what to expect when the Office collects personal information about:

  • Individuals who seek to make, or have made, a complaint about the conduct of a police officer
  • Individuals who make a service standards complaint about the Office’s service
  • Visitors to our Office
  • People who call our complaints line
  • People who email us
  • People who contact us via social media
  • Visitors to our website
  • Job applicants, current and former members of staff

If you send us an email or letter asking for information that relates to another body or organisation, we will direct you to the relevant organisation and provide you with the necessary contact information.

All of the Office’s investigations are conducted in private. The Office will only share personal information when it is fair, lawful and appropriate to do so.

Our legal basis for collecting your information

We use and share your data in circumstances where:

  • it is necessary for us to comply with our legal obligations as set out in Part 7 of the Police (NI) Act 1998 when investigating complaints about the conduct of police officers.
  • it is necessary for the performance of our statutory duties as prescribed by the Police (NI) Act 1998 and associated legislation to secure the efficiency, effectiveness and independence of the police complaints sytem.
  • it is necessary to protect your ‘vital interests’ or in exceptional circumstances that of another person, .
  • it may be necessary to comply with statutory obligations pertaining to employment legislation.

What information do we collect about you and how do we use that information?

Individuals who have made a complaint about a Police Officer

To allow us to determine how to progress your complaint, we need to collect and share your personal information. We collect personal information about you when we receive a complaint. This information is recorded on a computer and in a physical complaint file. When we initially receive your complaint, we may need to ask the police officer(s) and relevant policing body for further details. In doing so we will share your personal information with them and we may also seek advice from a person with specialist knowledge. We may also share your personal information with the Public Prosecution Service if it is a criminal matter. On completion of the investigation, we will write to you with the outcome of the investigation and will also notify the complained against person and policing body named in your complaint.

We will only use the personal information we collect to process the complaint and to check on the level of service we provide. We do compile and publish statistics showing information like the number of complaints we receive, but not in a form which identifies anyone.

We will keep personal information contained in complaint files in line with our Disposal and Retention Policy. This means that information relating to a complaint will be retained for a minimum of three years from closure. It will be retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle.

Further information regarding our investigative processes can be found in the information leaflets available in the Publications section on our website.

Other circumstances when we will share your personal information:

Information Commissioner’s Office

We can share information with the Information Commissioner in certain circumstances. Where it appears that matters concerning the Data Protection Act or Freedom of Information Act 2000 should be brought to the attention of the Information Commissioner we will share relevant information. We will inform you if this information sharing occurs in relation to your complaint.

Health and safety risk

We can share information with any appropriate person where a person is likely to constitute a threat to the health and safety of any other person. Such instances are rare and we will inform you if this information sharing occurs in relation to your complaint.

Other Ombudsmen

We can share information with other ombudsmen, if, at any stage in the course of considering a complaint or conducting an investigation, the Office forms the opinion that the matter could be the subject of an investigation by a person listed in their legislation.  We will inform you if this information sharing occurs in relation to your complaint.

Individuals who make a service standards complaint about the Office’s service

When we receive a complaint about our service standards we record this information on computer and in a physical file. This information contains the personal information of the individual making the complaint and the subject of the complaint, which may be a person or department. We process this information for the purposes of dealing with the complaint.

Further information about how to make a complaint about the service provided by the Police Ombudsman's Office.

Visitors to our Office

When you come to our Office, we will ask you to sign the visitor’s book and provide your name and organisation you work for if applicable. We collect this information for security purposes and also for health and safety in case of fire or emergency while you are visiting.

The Office has CCTV cameras outside the building and also in some main areas inside the building such as the stairwells. This is solely for the purpose of security. These cameras may capture your image, of which the recordings are destroyed after three months.

People who call our complaints line

When you call our complaints line, all incoming calls are recorded.  We do not record Calling Line Identification information unless the caller has offered to provide us with his/her contact telephone number.

People who email us

We use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt and protect email traffic in line with government practice. If your email service does not support TLS, you should be aware that any emails we send or receive may not be protected in transit.

We will also monitor any emails sent to us, including file attachments, for viruses or malicious software. Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you send is within the bounds of the law.

People who contact us via social media

If you send us a private or direct message via social media, the message will be retained by the social media provider. It will not be shared with any other organisations.

Visitors to our website

When someone visits we use a third party service, Good Analytics, to collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We do this to find out things such as the number of visitors to the various part of the site. This information is processed in a way which does not identify anyone. We do not make, and do not allow Google to make, any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting our website. If we do want to collect personally identifiable information through our website, we will be up front about this. We will make it clear when we collect personal information and will explain what we intend to do with it.

This privacy notice only covers our website.  It does not cover the links within this site to other websites.  We encourage you to read the privacy statements on the other websites you visit.  For more detailed information about our website, please go to the Privacy Statement for Website.

Job applicants, current and former members of staff
What will we do with the information you provide to us?

The information you provide during the process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application or to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements if necessary.

We will not share any of the information you provide during the recruitment process with any third parties for marketing purposes or store any of your information outside of the European Economic Area. Your information will be held securely by us and/or our data processors whether the information is in electronic or physical format.

We will use the contact details you provide to progress your application. We will use the other information you provide to assess your suitability for the role you have applied for.

What information do we ask for and why?

We do not collect more information than we need to fulfil our stated purposes and will not retain it for longer than is necessary.

The information we ask for is used to assess your suitability for employment. You don’t have to provide what we ask for but it might affect your application if you don’t.

Application stage

We ask you for your personal details including name and contact details. We will also ask you about your previous experience, education, referees and for answers to questions relevant to the role you have applied for. Our recruitment team will have access to all of this information.

You will also be asked to provide equal opportunities information. This is not mandatory information – if you don’t provide it, it will not affect your application. This information will not be made available to any staff outside of our recruitment team, including hiring managers, in a way which can identify you. Any information you do provide, will be used only to produce and monitor equal opportunities statistics.


Our managers shortlist applications for interview. They will not be provided with your name or contact details or with your equal opportunities information if you have provided it.


When you attend for an interview, we request you bring original documents for:
Proof of your identity
Proof of your qualificationsWe will take copies of your documents and keep them in your recruitment file.


We might ask you to participate in assessment days; complete tests or occupational personality profile questionnaires; and/or to attend an interview – or a combination of these. Information will be generated by you and by us. For example, you might complete a written test or we might take interview notes. This information is held by us.

If you are unsuccessful following assessment for the position you have applied for, we may ask if you would like your details to be retained in our talent pool for a period of twelve months. If you say yes, we would proactively contact you should any further suitable vacancies arise.

Conditional offer

If we make a conditional offer of employment we will ask you for information so that we can carry out pre-employment checks. You must successfully complete pre-employment checks to progress to a final offer. We are required to confirm the identity of our staff, their right to work in the United Kingdom and to seek assurance as to their trustworthiness, integrity and reliability.

Security Vetting

You will be asked to complete a criminal records declaration to declare any unspent convictions. (Our application form states ‘The Office holds an exemption to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

All convictions including cautions must be declared, failure to do so will make the application void, and if discovered at a later date if employed, will result in summary dismissal for gross misconduct.’)

All roles in the Office require National Security Vetting to at least CTC level - some roles require a higher level of security clearance – this will be clear on the advert. If this is the case, then you will be asked to submit information via the UK Security Vetting Agency. They undertake the necessary checks on our behalf and make a recommendation as to whether clearance should be approved. If it is unsuccessful, we might need to review your suitability for the role or how you perform your duties.


We will also ask you to complete a questionnaire about your health for the last five years which will help to determine if you are fit to undertake the work that you have been offered, or advise us if any adjustments are needed to the work environment or systems so that you may work effectively. This is initially assessed in the Office, however we may request an Occupational Health assessment which is done through a third-party. You are able to request to see the report before it is sent to us. If you do not permit us to see it, then this could affect your job offer.

Conflict of Interest

Our Code of Conduct requires all staff to declare if they have any potential conflicts of interest. If you complete a declaration, the information will be held on the Conflict of Interest Register.


We will contact your referees directly to obtain references using the details provided in your application.

Final Offer

If we make a final offer, we will also ask you for the following:
Bank details – to process salary payments
Emergency contact details – so we know who to contact in case you have an emergency at work
Membership of a Civil Service Pension scheme – so we can send you a questionnaire to determine whether you are eligible to re-join your previous scheme.

Use of data processors

Data processors are third parties who provide elements of our recruitment service for us. We have contracts in place with our data processors. This means that they cannot do anything with your personal information unless we have instructed them to do it. They will not share your personal information with any organisation apart from us. They will hold it securely and retain it for the period we instruct.

NICS Pensions

If you are employed by the Office, relevant details about you will be provided to NICS Pensions who are the administrators of the Civil Service Pension Scheme, of which the Office is a member organisation. You will be auto-enrolled into the pension scheme. Your name, date of birth, National Insurance number and salary will be provided to NICS Pensions .

UK Security Vetting Agency

They undertake the necessary checks on our behalf and make a recommendation as to whether clearance should be approved.

Occupational Health Provider

The Office uses a third-party occupational health provider for some assessments. If we request you attend this provider, they will meet you and discuss your health. They will only provide us an assessment of your suitability for employment in the role on offer, and not the details of the visit.

Recruitment Agencies

For some short-term vacancies, we sometimes advertise through recruitment agencies. The Office uses the NICS Agency Protocol.

The security of your information

All of our enquiries and investigations are conducted in private as required by the Office’s legislation. That legislation prevents the Office’s staff from disclosing any information obtained by us except for the purposes of the Office’s investigations and reports and other specified purposes set out in the legislation. We will not share any personal information with anyone other than for the statutory purposes specified in the legislation. We have strict security measures in place to protect the personal information we hold.

How long do we keep your information?

The Office retains information collected in line with our Disposal and Retention Schedule.  Some personal information may be archived in a secure storage facility prior to being destroyed. It will be retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle.

Your right to access the information we hold about you

You can ask to access your personal information the Office holds. We must provide the information to you within one month of receipt of request unless an exemption applies in the Information Acts or the Office’s legislation .

Information Directorate
Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
New Cathedral Buildings
St. Anne's Square
11 Church Street

Under the Data Protection Act, you have rights as an individual which you can exercise in relation to the information we hold about you.  You can read more about these rights here.

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review.  This privacy notice was last updated on 24 May 2018.

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