Access to Personal Files

Access to Personal information held in social care files

If you are currently receiving a service from Children’s Services or Adult Social care, and have a query about your personal information, please contact your allocated social worker in the first instance.

With regard to requests for access to personal information held in closed social care files, you can find out if we hold any personal information about you by making a ‘subject access request’ under UK data protection law. If we do hold information about you, we will:

  • Give you a description of it
  • Tell you why we are holding it
  • Tell you who it could be disclosed to, and
  • Let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form.


We handle all information in a manner that respects the rights of individuals and which complies with the requirements of UK data protection legislation. Please see further information below.


Everyone who receives a service from Children’s Services or Adult Social Care will have some type of record.

Different information is kept, depending on the reason for your contact with us. The record will include basic information such as your address, date of birth, next of kin, and details of any contact you have had with social care workers.

There may also be copies of your assessments and care plans. Any decisions made about you will be recorded, with explanations why those decisions were made. There may also be information from other professionals you are involved with.

Depending upon the age of your records, they may be held on the Council’s electronic case management system, or if archived, on the Council’s secure network.

All staff are required to keep information confidential, and only authorised staff can access your information.

Under UK data protection law you have a right to access your records. In a small number of cases, there may be legal restrictions on some types of information. You can request access to your records held on a closed file by completing an online request form.

Alternatively, you can contact the Access to Files Officers via: Accesstofiles@sefton.gov.uk or by telephone on 0151 934 3405 or 0151 934 3758.

You need to provide two forms of identification, one which confirms your identity and one which confirms your current address. Please send only photocopy documents, do not send originals as these can be lost in transit.

Acceptable confirmation of identity includes:

  • Current Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Unexpired photo card driving licence (full or provisional)

Acceptable confirmation of current address includes:

  • Utility bill dated within the last three months
  • Council Tax bill for current year
  • Unexpired old style paper driving licence
  • Bank statement dated within the last three months
  • Benefits Agency / State Pension correspondence (on letter-headed paper) dated within the last three months.

If you want to nominate a friend or representative to access your records on your behalf, you will need to confirm this on your request form. You will need to provide evidence of your written authorisation for them to access your records on your behalf. Please bear in mind that your records may contain sensitive information you would not want another person to see e.g. medical information.

They will also need to provide two forms of identification from the above list.

Under UK data protection law, the Council must provide access to your records within one calendar month of receiving your completed application form and identification. This period may be extended by a further 2 months where necessary e.g. your files are particularly large or complex. You will be notified in advance if the Council requires such an extension.

Your right of access does not entitle you to receive full copies of original documents held by the Council – only your personal information contained in documents. Some of the information may be withheld because of an exemption in data protection law.

Exemptions are meant to protect particular types of information, or how certain organisations work. The Council may refuse to give you your information if it also includes personal information about someone else, except where:

  • the other individual has agreed to the disclosure; or
  • it is reasonable to give you this information without the other individual’s consent.

When you receive your response, you may find the Council has removed (or edited out) the other individual’s information before sending your information to you. You may see information which is blanked out. This is commonly known as ‘redaction’.

This could mean you only receive partial information – such as copies of documents showing blanked-out text or missing sections.

If the Council does this because information is considered to be exempt, normally we will tell you why this is the case, explain our decision and how you can challenge this outcome.

Further information can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website 

We may also need to contact other services and people such as schools and health professionals, for permission to release any third-party information they have provided. Depending upon the nature of the information, we may advise you to contact the partner organisation directly.

Let us know if you find any errors within your record so that we can correct them. If you disagree with any statements within your record, your comments can be added to the record for reference.

Records are kept in accordance with the authority’s Retention and Disposal Schedules. The length of retention will depend on the type of service you have received from us. The Access to Files Officer can confirm the retention period for your record.

Any errors within your record will be corrected. If you disagree with any statements within your record, your comments can be added to the record for reference.

Records are kept in accordance with the authority’s Retention and Disposal Schedules. The length of retention will depend on the type of service you have received from us. The Access to Files Officer can confirm the retention period for your record.

Privacy Notice

Please take time to read the below Social Care privacy notices. This will explain what information we hold about you, why we hold it and when we will contact you.

Privacy Notice - Adult Social Care (pdf 73KB)
ASC COVID 19 Privacy Notice FINAL (pdf 45KB)
Privacy Notice - Children's Social Care (pdf 384KB)

Last Updated on Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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