We appreciate organisations will wish to reassure themselves that they can share information with the INWO.
The INWO has statutory tasks which require us to obtain information, including personal data. We must consider complaints that are brought to us and provide reasons if we decide not to investigate. When we are deciding if a concern is appropriate for us to take forward, we need to establish whether it has been raised with the organisation, and if so, what exactly has been investigated. At this stage, we may ask for a range of information including your stage 2 letter so we can be clear what concerns have been considered locally.
If we decide to investigate the complaint we are likely to need more information. At this stage, we will ask you for all the necessary evidence. We can require you to provide this if necessary and have the same power as the Court of Session to compel the production of evidence. This includes requesting input from other staff working in that area, and this will normally be through interview. Please see our leaflet on what to expect during an interview (PDF, 142KB) for more information.
We act as a complaints standards authority and the legislation requires organisations to cooperate with us in applying the National Whistleblowing Standards within your organisation.
We explain on our leaflets, online form and in our privacy notice that we will be contacting the organisation complained about and asking for information. People are encouraged to talk to us if they are concerned about this. If we need to access special category data such as medical records, we will normally ask you to redact any identifying information. Alternatively, we may issue a notification to the person whose information it is (or someone acting on their behalf) to let them know we will be seeking access to that data and giving them a clear opportunity to object. We may provide you with a copy of this to reassure you we are processing the data fairly, however, this is not a consent form and, technically, we do not require consent to access this information.
When you provide us with data, please let us know if you are providing anything which requires sensitive or careful handling. Our powers allow us to release information for the purposes of an investigation but if you have informed us of any concerns you have about releasing information, we will be able to take that into account. In the event of a subject access or other information rights request, we would normally contact you to ask whether there is anything you would not like us to release and why. The best time to let us know about any concerns about the information you are providing, is at the time you provide it, as that concern can be stored with the information.
We know some of the information we ask for can be particularly sensitive and may relate to personnel or medical records. We are always very happy to talk to you about any concerns or questions you may have about our requests for information.
We are committed to protecting the privacy of those involved in our process. We will process the information your organisation provides to use in accordance with its intended purpose and in line with the Data Protection Act 2018, the SPSO Act 2002 and the Healthcare Whistleblowing Order 2020. We may need to collect and share information with a number of sources to carry out our investigation. When we do so we do not name individuals. We may also use information we collect to compile statistics and undertake research and analysis. There may be public interest benefits in reusing information for these purposes. Information is completely anonymised and we are very careful to share information in such a way that individuals cannot be identified. If we need to share information which could reveal the identity of someone involved in an INWO investigation, we would contact them beforehand, to explain why we want to share the information and gain their consent (unless this is not required by law).
Your organisation’s views are valuable to us, and we may contact you to invite you to take part in our surveys for research purposes.
To find out more about how we handle information and the rights of individuals whose information we hold, see our privacy notice. If you have any concerns about what we do, please let us know straight away.