Data Protection

Data Handling: FAQs and Example Scenarios

This section provides the brief answers to some frequently asked or predictable questions about how Data Protection affects St Bene’t’s Church. Some of the answers are worked through in a different way in a set of “scenarios” at the end of the document.

By its nature this document is subject to modification, so please check that you are reading a recent copy by checking the date indicated above. If in any doubt please contact the Church Office, Wardens or Vicar.

Frequently Asked Questions about the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

  1. Do we have to change everything we currently do to be compliant with GDPR?

Absolutely not – in large part, if we have been acting in line with current regulations we will be largely compliant with GDPR. There are a few new, specific requirements in GDPR, but “good data practice” remains broadly unchanged: the new regulations seek to make good practice more transparent and unambiguous.

  1. Does everything have to be completely GDPR compliant from May 2018?

No, although this is our goal.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) permits that we have made efforts to be compliant, and if our programme of changes is not fully complete, so long as we show that we have a plan to be so, this is acceptable

  1. Does everything require a specific consent form?

No – it needs to be legal under the relevant articles (Article 6, and/or 9 and/or 10) of GDPR which may or may not require written consent. We will provide a generic consent form for completeness.

Much of our data processing is legal because it falls within our “legitimate interests” and not because we have “consent” as a justification- that is, we use the information needed to reasonably fulfil our primary and defined purpose without unnecessarily invading people’s privacy.

Consent or refusal may also be expressed in many forms, including “implicit” or “explicit” – for example, if you provide forms or a sign-up sheet in church and somebody provides information, they have implicitly given their consent to us using them, so long as the purpose is clearly stated, and we have an easily available Privacy Statement.

There are also some pieces of information we are obliged to use and, in some cases, share with other bodies or make public. This would include our Electoral Roll; DBS checks for the PCC and Children’s volunteers; or reading of Banns of Marriage, for example.

  1. Can we still place sign-up sheets for events at the back of church?

Yes – when somebody fills in a sign-up sheet placed in church, we consider it reasonable that they consent to the information remaining visible to other congregants during service times. We would not leave sign-up sheets easily visible to the general public in the church, i.e. outside of service times.

  1. Can we read out the names of the unwell, bereaved or those who have died in our Intercessions during services?

This is a part of our tradition and something we offer to support anybody in difficult times. Please be mindful that to in order to pray for somebody in public it is not necessary to reveal specific information about their personal situation and this should be avoided; and if possible, please ask them if they would like for us to offer Intercessions on their behalf. Of course, we do not require a “consent form” for this. If this is impractical we should act in accordance with their best interests – and anybody uncertain should ask the Incumbent or a Church Warden before offering a public prayer.

  1. Can we use contact details for fundraising?

This will require us to think about what sort of fundraising we are performing.

We can use contact details to update our members about events the church is organising – regardless of whether donations might be made at the event itself, for St Bene’t’s Church or other causes we nominate. If we are specifically using information for a Stewardship campaign (i.e. to raise church funds) the PCC and Incumbent have decided that we should gain separate, specific consent regardless of the type of contact details used (i.e. we adopt a “universal opt in” even if we could justify communication by another GDPR-approved basis). Therefore, by our own rule we would not use the Electoral Roll for fundraising, for example.

  1. Can we respond to requests for information about our members?

We certainly cannot hand out information about our members to 3rd parties without permission. We also should not confirm or deny if somebody is a regular attender at St Bene’t’s Church if they are not on the Electoral Roll. The Roll is in the public domain so does not fall under this restriction.

However, we can take the contact details of the inquirer, stating that we will provide them to the intended recipient if within our power, and make them available to the relevant member(s) of the congregation which will allow them to proceed as they choose.

  1. What happens if somebody requests to have their data erased?

In most cases we will be able to do this simply, without issue, if the data subject tells us in what capacities they provided the information.

If we are unable to erase details because we are required to keep them by regulation/law or because it is impracticable or unreasonably onerous for us to do so we will delete all we can/are allowed to and inform the subject of what information we have deleted, and highlight what sorts of data we do not remove.

  1. Do we have to use blind carbon copy (Bcc) for all emails?

No – this requires a common-sense approach to decide what is most appropriate.

If the purpose of sending an email is to allow a group to organise themselves or keep each other up-to-date it is appropriate to have all emails visible to the group, as this is part of the purpose and it is not unnecessarily invasive, and would reasonably be expected by participants. For example – sending out emails about organising a rota or church event could have all emails visible.

However, if you could achieve all you are aiming to without having all recipients visible to the group it is more appropriate to use Bcc – for example if we are just informing people of an opportunity. This is particularly important if an email is being sent to a group of individuals who may not be aware, or may not wish others to be aware, who else might be interested or involved – for example, a list of those exploring vocations, or support groups for those with particular difficulties that might be exposed by a group email. Again- anybody uncertain should ask the Wardens, Church Office or Incumbent for advice.

  1. Do we make assumptions about the capacity of our respondents?

The PCC and Incumbent of St Bene’t’s do not consider themselves competent to make a formal assessment of capacity- this is a medico-legal decision. In general, the Mental Capacity Act suggests assuming capacity unless proven otherwise; and “capacity” depends on the type of information being given. (For example – deciding to give an email address to be updated about service times is a very different decision to one relating to making a large financial donation). However, if we have any reason to doubt the capacity of an individual providing information, based on our observation of them or any concerns from those that know the individual well or represent them by legal arrangement, we would seek further advice on how to proceed from qualified sources. This may involve limited sharing of information, with boundaries of professional confidentiality having been agreed.

In general, any person under 18 requires the consent of their parent or guardian for us to hold their data. If a person under 18 wishes to act as independent from their parent or guardian we will consider this on a case by case basis. One exception to this is signing up to the Electoral Roll – the Church of England has declared that those 16 years and older may sign onto the Roll independently.

  1. How do we make sure respondents are informed in their decision making?

We achieve this by:

  1. Having an up-to-date Privacy Statement and Data Handling Summary that lets people know how we use data we collect
  2. Providing relevant information at each request for information – verbally and in writing (for example, in Tidings Newsletter) – to explain why in this instance we need the information

We are a little unusual in that we tend to ask people to provide information for single purposes only, that we explain individually, and do not hold it for future use. This helps to ensure that we do not use data inappropriately. (For example – each church event tends to have a new sign-up sheet asking for contact details, which is then subsequently destroyed and not stored as a basis for future contact or fundraising.)

Examples of Worked Scenarios

  1. A couple get married in St Bene’t’s Church and after the event, a friend who was unable to attend wishes to send them a congratulatory note. They contact us to ask for an email address. What do we do?

We cannot give out contact details for the married couple (even though theirs Banns of Marriage were a matter of Public Record), or confirm or deny if they are attending the Church (unless they are on the Electoral Roll). We can, however, offer to take the inquirer’s details and provide them to the married couple if we are in contact in future.

  1. A member of the Church several years ago agreed to their email appearing in Tidings Newsletter as the organiser of an All Ages event. They contact us and ask to exercise their “Right to be forgotten”. What do we do?

Within 1 month, we must delete all the information we hold about them, though it is wise to keep a separate, very brief record that the request was made and fulfilled to demonstrate receipt and compliance with the request. (For example – a date of receipt, initials of the requestor and the action taken in a spreadsheet with a completion date – this would be informative later if further context were provided but not in isolation).

The newsletter itself has been placed in the public domain with the consent of the individual at the time. As a goodwill gesture we could either remove the issue from the website or alter it to remove the contact details of the individual – and as this is simple to do, we should do so. However we are NOT obliged to track down all copies of this issue of Tidings and ensure they are destroyed. Once in the public domain it is unreasonable to expect us to ensure no record remains. We may also keep a record of those who organised or played a significant role in an event, for safeguarding purposes in line with current Church of England guidance. These limitations should be explained to the individual involved.

  1. We have decided to post photographs of individuals from the PCC to make it easier for the congregation to recognise us. Do we need a written consent form for each PCC member?

No – although photographs are a) publicly displayed in the Church at all times and b) more sensitive data than, for example, addresses, we do not need to have a written consent form for each PCC member. The motion was discussed and approved at a quorate meeting, and a request sent out to individuals to request photographs if they were happy to do so. By responding to the request, individuals consent to their photographs being displayed. They have been informed of how we will use the photographs in the PCC discussion and subsequent minutes and in the email requesting the images. This principle extends to most requests for data that we will make, if the reasoning behind the request is explained and legitimate, and not unnecessarily invasive.

May 2018



The Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge

  1. Your personal data – what is it?

Personal data relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data. Identification can be by the information alone or in conjunction with any other information in the data controller’s possession or likely to come into such possession. The processing of personal data is governed by the Data Protection Bill/Act 2017 the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (the ‘GDPR’) and other legislation relating to personal data and rights such as the Human Rights Act 1998.

  1. Who are we?

The PCC of St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge is the data controller (contact details below). This means it decides how your personal data is processed and for what purposes.

  1. How do we process your personal data?

The PCC of St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge complies with its obligations under the GDPR by keeping personal data up to date; by storing and destroying it securely; by not collecting or retaining excessive amounts of data; by protecting personal data from loss, misuse, unauthorised access and disclosure and by ensuring that appropriate technical measures are in place to protect personal data.

We use your personal data to process some or all of the above functions, examples of which are shown, where necessary to perform tasks. In order to facilitate the above, we may use the following:

  • Names, titles, and aliases, photographs;
  • Contact details such as telephone numbers, addresses, and email addresses;
  • Where they are relevant to our mission, or where you provide them to us, we may process demographic information such as gender, age, date of birth, marital status, nationality, education/work histories, academic/professional qualifications, hobbies, family composition, and dependants;
  • Where you make donations or pay for activities such as use of the church, financial identifiers such as bank account numbers, payment card numbers, payment/transaction identifiers, policy numbers, and claim numbers;
  • The data we process is likely to constitute sensitive personal data because, as a church, the fact that we process your data at all may be suggestive of your religious beliefs.

We also use your personal data to perform for some or all of the following purposes:

  • To enable us to meet all legal and statutory obligations (which include maintaining and publishing our electoral roll in accordance with the Church Representation Rules) and trusteeship of the PCC;
  • To carry out comprehensive safeguarding procedures (including due diligence and complaints handling) in accordance with best safeguarding practice from time to time with the aim of ensuring that all children and adults-at-risk are provided with safe environments;
  • To minister to you and provide you with pastoral and spiritual care (such as visiting you when you are gravely ill or bereaved) and to organise and perform ecclesiastical services for you, such as baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals;
  • To deliver the Church’s mission to our community, and to carry out any other voluntary or charitable activities for the benefit of the public as provided for in the constitution and statutory framework of each data controller;
  • To administer the parish, deanery, archdeaconry and diocesan membership records;
  • To fundraise and promote the interests of the Church and charity;
  • To maintain our own accounts and records;
  • To process a donation that you have made (including Gift Aid information);
  • To seek your views or comments;
  • To notify you of changes to our services, events and role holders;
  • To send you communications which you have requested and that may be of interest to you. These may include information about campaigns, appeals, other fundraising activities;
  • To process a grant or application for a role;
  • To manage our employees and volunteers;
  • To enable us to provide a voluntary service for the benefit of the public in a particular geographical area as specified in our constitution;
    • To communicate with you as part of your involvement with a group, rota or event at the church.
  1. What is the legal basis for processing your personal data?

Most of our data is processed because it is necessary for our legitimate interests, or the legitimate interests of a third party (such as another organisation in the Church of England).  An example of this would be our safeguarding work to protect children and adults at risk.  We will always take into account your interests, rights and freedoms.

Some of our processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation. For example, we are required by the Church Representation Rules to administer and publish the electoral roll, and under Canon Law to announce forthcoming weddings by means of the publication of banns.

We may also process data if it is necessary for the performance of a contract with you, or to take steps to enter into a contract. An example of this would be processing your data in connection with the hire of church facilities.

Religious organisations are also permitted to process information about your religious beliefs to administer membership or contact details. Processing is carried out by a not-for-profit body with a religious aim provided:

  • the processing relates only to members or former members (or those who have regular contact with it in connection with those purposes); and
  • there is no disclosure to a third party without consent.
  1. Sharing your personal data

Your personal data will be treated as strictly confidential and will only be shared with other members of the church in order to carry out a service to other church members or for purposes connected with the church. We will only share your data with third parties outside of the parish with your consent.

  • The appropriate bodies of the Church of England including the other data controllers;
  • Other clergy or lay persons nominated or licensed by the bishops of the Diocese of Ely to support the mission of the Church in our parish. For example, our clergy are supported by our area dean and archdeacon, who may provide confidential mentoring and pastoral support. Assistant or temporary ministers, including curates, deacons, licensed lay ministers, commissioned lay ministers or persons with Bishop’s Permissions may participate in our mission in support of our regular clergy;
  • On occasion, other churches with which we are carrying out joint events or activities.
    1. How long do we keep your personal data[1]?

We keep data in accordance with the guidance set out in the guide ‘Keep or Bin: Care of Your Parish Records’which is available from the Church of England website [see footnote for link].

Specifically, we retain electoral roll data while it is still current; Gift Aid declarations and associated paperwork for up to 6 years after the calendar year to which they relate; and parish

registers (baptisms, marriages, funerals) permanently.

In general, we will endeavour to keep data only for as long as we need it.  This means that we may delete it when it is no longer needed.

  1. Your rights and your personal data

You have the following rights with respect to your personal data:

When exercising any of the rights listed below, in order to process your request, we may need to verify your identity for your security.  In such cases we will need you to respond with proof of your identity before you can exercise these rights.


  1. The right to access information we hold on you
    • At any point you can contact us to request the information we hold on you as well as why we have that information, who has access to the information and where we obtained the information from. Once we have received your request we will respond within one month.
    • There are no fees or charges for requesting information.


  1. The right to correct and update the information we hold on you
    • If the data we hold on you is out of date, incomplete or incorrect, you can inform us and your data will be updated.


  1. The right to have your information erased
    • If you feel that we should no longer be using your data or that we are illegally using your data, you can request that we erase the data we hold.
    • When we receive your request we will confirm whether the data has been deleted or the reason why it cannot be deleted (for example because we need it for our legitimate interests or regulatory purpose(s)).


  1. The right to object to processing of your data
    • You have the right to request that we stop processing your data. Upon receiving the request we will contact you and let you know if we are able to comply or if we have legitimate grounds to continue to process your data. Even after you exercise your right to object, we may continue to hold your data to comply with your other rights or to bring or defend legal claims.


  1. The right to data portability
    • You have the right to request that we transfer some of your data to another controller. We will comply with your request, where it is feasible to do so, within one month of receiving your request.


  1. The right to withdraw your consent to the processing at any time for any processing of data to which consent was sought.
    • You can withdraw your consent easily by telephone, email, or by post (see Contact Details below).


  1. The right to object to the processing of personal data where applicable.


  1. The right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office.


  1. Transfer of data abroad

Any electronic personal data transferred to countries or territories outside the EU will only be placed on systems complying with measures giving equivalent protection of personal rights either through international agreements or contracts approved by the European Union.  Our website is also accessible from overseas so on occasion some personal data (for example in Tidings) may be accessed from overseas

  1. Further processing

If we wish to use your personal data for a new purpose, not covered by this Data Protection Notice, then we will provide you with a new notice explaining this new use prior to commencing the processing and setting out the relevant purposes and processing conditions. Where and whenever necessary, we will seek your prior consent to the new processing.


  1. Contact Details

Please contact us if you have any questions about this Privacy Notice or the information we hold about you or to exercise all relevant rights, queries or complaints:


PCC Secretary/Parish Administrator: Philippa Pearson

St Bene’t’s Church, Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3PT

Telephone: 01223 351927



You can contact the Information Commissioners Office on 0303 123 1113 or via email or at the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.



May 2018: Next review, May 2019

[1] Details about retention periods can currently be found in the Record Management Guides located on the Church of England website at: –