The 12th December sees the country going to the polls for General Election 2019. While there was some discussion around the use of schools as polling stations, we are aware that there will be some used and that may include your school.
Bearing that in mind, it is important to consider data protection risks that could occur with members of the public coming into your school. Of course, this is a great opportunity to remind staff about their data protection practice and to ensure that they are keeping data secure. A quick refresher would benefit them before the day.
Here are some pointers for reducing the risks and staying compliant on election day:
On polling day, your school will have members of the public in that do not necessarily have any connection to the school. This means that you must be even more vigilant than normal about data that is visible or accessible.
You will already have processes in place about data visibility and the differences between 'public' spaces and those that are not 'public'. However, on polling day, there may be people in spaces that you do not normally consider 'public'. You should ensure that any spaces the public may access (including corridors, meeting rooms, or halls) are clear of personal information. This may involve removing data displayed on walls, locking away paper information, ensuring computers are locked or logged off, and even checking that bins don't have inappropriately disposed of personal data in them. We would advise that you do this in advance of polling day and then again on the day itself.
Consider what areas of the school you want members of the public, and voting officials, to access and ensure that you control that effectively. You may need to put up signage in advance of the day and appoint a member of staff to oversee the area. If there are pupils / students in school when polling is open, interactions between them and members of the public should be considered from a data protection perspective as well as a safeguarding point of view.
It is also worth noting that some of the voters may be parents of your pupils / students and so may try to take the opportunity to come into the school and speak to staff. Access needs to be closely monitored or restricted to prevent people wandering your site.
It is important to remind voters and officials of your policies around the use of mobile devices on site. Your expectations around the taking of photos will need to be adhered to by these visitors, especially if there are students / pupils on site during polling. You may want to display signage/posters to clarify these expectations.
Polling Day Checklist
We have created a checklist to assist you in the run up to polling day and on the day itself.
Download it from the button below:
Please contact us if you do have further questions at GDPR@schoolpro.uk.