Data Protection Policy


1.    Introduction

1.1     We hold personal data about our employees, freelancers, clients, suppliers and other individuals for a variety of business purposes.

1.2 .    This policy sets out how we seek to protect personal data and ensure that people who work with us understand the rules governing their use of personal data to which they have access in the course of their work. In particular, this policy requires those we work with to ensure that the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations be consulted before any significant new data processing activity is initiated to ensure that relevant compliance steps are addressed.

1.3     Strategic North Limited has a commitment to protecting the rights and freedoms of data subjects and safely and securely processing their data in accordance with all of our legal obligations.


2.    Scope

2.1     This policy explains what we will do with personal data, to inform all those who work with and for us about it.

2.2     This policy must be adhered to by everyone who works for us, whether as an employee, freelancer or supplier.  It sets out what Strategic North are committed to doing. If you work for us, you must be familiar with this policy and comply with its terms – where it talks about things you must do, it is essential that you do them.

2.3     This policy supplements our other policies relating to data breach, IT security and device management. We may supplement or amend this policy by additional policies and guidelines from time to time. Any new or modified policy will be circulated to everyone who works for us before being adopted or at the time it is adopted.


3.    Who is responsible for this policy?

3.1     The Strategic North Board have overall responsibility for this policy.

3.2     The Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations have overall responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of this policy. You should contact either of them for further information about this policy if necessary. Contact details below:

(a) Managing Director –

(b) Head of Finance & Business Operations –


4.     The Principles

4.1     Strategic North Limited shall comply with the principles of data protection (the Principles) enumerated in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We will make every effort possible in everything we do to comply with these principles.  The Principles are:

(a) Lawful, fair and transparent

  • Data collection must be fair, for a legal purpose and we must be open and transparent about how the data will be used.

(b) Limited for its purpose

  • Data can only be collected for a specific purpose.

(c) Data minimisation

  • Any data collected must be necessary and not excessive for its purpose.

(d) Accurate

  • The data we hold must be accurate and kept up to date.

(e) Retention

  • We cannot store data longer than necessary.

(f) Integrity and confidentiality

  • The data we hold must be kept safe and secure.


5.     Accountability and transparency

5.1     We must ensure accountability and transparency in all our use of personal data. We must show how we comply with each Principle. You are responsible for keeping a record of how all your work with data complies with each of the Principles. This must be kept up to date and any changes must be approved by the Managing Director and the Head of Finance & Business Operations.

5.2     To comply with data protection laws and the accountability and transparency Principle of GDPR, we must all demonstrate compliance. You are responsible for understanding your particular responsibilities to ensure we meet the following data protection obligations:

(a) Fully implement all appropriate technical and organisational measures, including using the required storage folders and encryption software.

(b) Maintain up to date and relevant documentation on all processing activities

(c) Conducting Data Protection Impact Assessments.

(d) Implement measures to ensure privacy by design and default, including:

(e) Data minimisation – only store what you have to.

(f) Pseudonymisation – not using actual peoples’ names for data files or analysis (or redacting instead)

(g) Transparency – if a problem happens, flag it up ASAP.

(h) Allowing individuals to monitor processing (the Administrator)

(i) Creating and improving security and enhanced privacy procedures on an ongoing basis.


6.    Our Procedures

6.1     The Strategic North Board have overall responsibility for this policy.

(a) We must process personal data fairly and lawfully in accordance with individuals’ rights under the first Principle. This generally means that we should not process personal data unless the individual whose details we are processing has consented to this happening.

(b) If we cannot apply a lawful basis (explained below), our processing does not conform to the first principle and will be unlawful (and in breach of contract). Data subjects have the right to have any data unlawfully processed erased.

6.2     Controlling vs. Processing Data
Strategic North Limited is classified as a data controller and data processor. We must maintain our appropriate registration with the Information Commissioners Office in order to continue lawfully controlling and processing data.

6.3     Lawful Basis for Processing Data
We must establish a lawful basis for processing data. Ensure that any data you are responsible for managing has a written lawful basis approved by the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations. It is your responsibility to check the lawful basis for any data you are working with and ensure all of your actions comply the lawful basis. At least one of the following conditions must apply whenever we process personal data:

(a) Consent: We hold recent, clear, explicit, and defined consent for the individual’s data to be processed for a specific purpose (for market research healthcare projects, this will be a Consent Form by default unless otherwise specified)

(b) Contract: The processing is necessary to fulfil or prepare a contract for the individual.

(c) Legal obligation: We have a legal obligation to process the data (excluding a contract).

(d) Vital interests: Processing the data is necessary to protect a person’s life or in a medical situation.

(e) Public function: Processing necessary to carry out a public function, a task of public interest or the function has a clear basis in law.

(f) Legitimate interest: The processing is necessary for our legitimate interests. This condition does not apply if there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides the legitimate interest.

(g) In the majority of cases, 1. and 4. will be applicable to Strategic North Ltd.’s projects.


7.    Special categories of personal data

7.1      What are Special Categories of Personal Data?
Previously known as sensitive personal data, this means data about an individual which is more sensitive, so requires more protection. This type of data could create more significant risks to a person’s fundamental rights and freedoms, for example by putting them at risk of unlawful discrimination. The special categories include information about an individual’s:

  • Race
  • Ethnic origin
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Trade union membership
  • Genetics
  • Biometrics (where used for ID purposes)
  • Health
  • Sexual orientation

7.2      In most cases, items will apply to our healthcare projects, and where we will require the data subject’s explicit consent to do this unless exceptional circumstances apply or we are required to do this by law (e.g. to comply with legal obligations to ensure health and safety at work). Any such consent will need to clearly identify what the relevant data is, why it is being processed and to whom it will be disclosed.


8.    Responsibilities

8.1     The Company’s Responsibilities

(a) Analysing and documenting the type of personal data we hold

(b) Checking procedures to ensure they cover all the rights of the individual

(c) Identify the lawful basis for processing data

(d) Ensuring consent procedures are lawful

(e) Implementing and reviewing procedures to detect, report and investigate personal data breaches

(f) Store data in safe and secure ways

(g) Assess the risk that could be posed to individual rights and freedoms should data be compromised

8.2     Your Responsibilities

(a) Fully understand your data protection obligations

(b) Check that any data processing activities you are dealing with comply with our policy and are justified.

(c) Do not use data in any unlawful way

(d) Do not store data incorrectly, be careless with it or otherwise cause us to breach data protection laws and our policies through your actions

(e) Comply with this policy at all times

(f) Raise any concerns, notify any breaches or errors, and report anything suspicious or contradictory to this policy or our legal obligations without delay

8.3     Responsibilities of the Board

(a) Overall responsibility for data protection risks and issues

(b) Reviewing all data protection procedures and policies on a regular basis

(c) Arranging data protection training and advice for all employees and selected freelancers.

(d) Answering questions on data protection from team members and other stakeholders
Responding to individuals such as clients and team members who wish to know which data is being held on them by us

(e) Checking and approving with third parties that handle the company’s data any contracts or agreement regarding data processing

(f) Ensure all systems, services, software and equipment meet acceptable security standards

(g) Checking and scanning security hardware and software regularly to ensure it is functioning properly

(h) Researching third-party services, such as cloud services the company is considering using to store or process data

(i) Approving data protection statements attached to emails and other marketing copy

(j) Addressing data protection queries from clients, target audiences or media outlets

(k) Ensuring all marketing initiatives adhere to data protection laws and the company’s Data Protection Policy (this document)

8.4     Accuracy and Relevance
We will ensure that any personal data we process is accurate, adequate, relevant and not excessive, given the purpose for which it was obtained. We will not process personal data obtained for one purpose for any unconnected purpose unless the individual concerned has agreed to this or would otherwise reasonably expect this.

Individuals may ask that we correct inaccurate personal data relating to them. If you believe that information is inaccurate you should record the fact that the accuracy of the information is disputed and inform the Head of Finance & Business Operations.

8.5     Data Security
You must keep personal data secure against loss or misuse. Where other organisations process personal data as a service on our behalf, the Head of Finance & Business Operations will establish what, if any, additional specific data security arrangements need to be implemented in contracts with those third party organisations.

8.6     Storing Data Securely

(a) In cases when data is stored on printed paper, it should be kept in a secure place where others cannot access it.

(b) Printed data should be placed in the confidential waste bins when it is no longer needed. Material placed in these bins are emptied and shredded on a regular basis.

(c) Data stored on a computer should be protected by strong passwords that are changed regularly, and/or by Strategic North Ltd encryption software.

(d) Data stored on CDs or memory sticks must be encrypted or password protected and locked away securely when they are not being used.

(e) The Head of Finance & Business Operations must approve any cloud used to store data

(f) Data should never be permanently stored on mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or smartphones, other than thru’ our encryption portal.

(g) All sensitive data must be protected by encryption software.

(h) All possible technical measures must be put in place to keep data secure.

8.7     Data Retention
We must retain personal data for no longer than is necessary. Our specific retention periods are outlined in our Privacy notices. Employee data will be retained 7 years. Market Research Respondents data will be held for the duration of the project. Consent forms and adverse event report forms may require archiving after this time, which will happen via encryption.

8.8     Transferring Data Internationally
There are restrictions on international transfers of personal data. You must not transfer personal data outside of the EEA without express permission of the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations.


9.    Rights of individuals

9.1       Individuals have rights to their data which we must respect and comply with to the best of our ability. We must ensure individuals can exercise their rights in the following ways:

9.1.1         Right to be Informed.

(a) Providing privacy notices which are concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible, free of charge, that are written in clear and plain language, particularly if aimed at children.

(b) Keeping a record of how we use personal data to demonstrate compliance with the need for accountability and transparency.

9.1.2        Right of Access.

(a) Enabling individuals to access their personal data and supplementary information

(b) Allowing individuals to be aware of and verify the lawfulness of the processing activities

9.1.3        Right to Rectification.

(a) We must rectify or amend the personal data of the individual if requested because it is inaccurate or incomplete.

(b) This must be done without delay, and no later than one month. This can be extended to two months with permission from the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations.

9.1.4        Right to Erasure.

(a) We must delete or remove an individual’s data if requested and there is no compelling reason for its continued processing.

9.1.5         Right to Restrict Processing.

(a) We must comply with any request to restrict, block, or otherwise suppress the processing of personal data.

(b) We are permitted to store personal data if it has been restricted, but not process it further. We must retain enough data to ensure the right to restriction is respected in the future.

9.1.6         Right to Data Portability.

(a) We must provide individuals with their data so that they can reuse it for their own purposes or across different services.

(b) We must provide it in a commonly used, machine-readable format, and send it directly to another controller if requested.

9.1.7         Right to Object.

(a) We must respect the right of an individual to object to data processing based on legitimate interest or the performance of a public interest task.

(b) We must respect the right of an individual to object to direct marketing, including profiling.

(c) We must respect the right of an individual to object to processing their data for scientific and historical research and statistics.

9.1.8        Rights in Relation to Automated Decision Making and Profiling.

(a) We must respect the rights of individuals in relation to automated decision making and profiling.

(b) Individuals retain their right to object to such automated processing, have the rationale explained to them, and request human intervention.


10.  Privacy notices

10.1     When to Inform About our Privacy Notices

(a) A privacy notice must be supplied at the time the data is obtained if obtained directly from the data subject. If the data is not obtained directly from the data subject, the privacy notice must be provided within a reasonable period of having obtained the data, which means within one month.

(b) If the data is being used to communicate with the individual, then the privacy notice must be supplied at the latest when the first communication takes place.

(c) If disclosure to another recipient is envisaged, then the privacy notice must be supplied prior to the data being disclosed.

(d) As a default, the Strategic North Limited privacy notices are publicly available on our website, and can be found at

(e) Project specific notices may be created as part of a data protection impact assessment (DPIA), conducted by Research Operations Manager at the beginning of each project.

10.2     What we Include in a Privacy Notice
Privacy notices must be concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible. They are provided free of charge and must be written in clear and plain language, particularly if aimed at children.

The following information must be included in a privacy notice to all data subjects:

(a) Identification and contact information of the data controller and the data protection officer.

(b) The purpose of processing the data and the lawful basis for doing so.

(c) The legitimate interests of the controller or third party, if applicable.

(d) The right to withdraw consent at any time, if applicable.

(e) The category of the personal data (only for data not obtained directly from the data subject).

(f) Any recipient or categories of recipients of the personal data.

(g) Detailed information of any transfers to third countries and safeguards in place

(h) The retention period of the data or the criteria used to determine the retention period, including details for the data disposal after the retention period.

(i) The right to lodge a complaint with the ICO, and internal complaint procedures.

(j) The source of the personal data, and whether it came from publicly available sources (only for data not obtained directly from the data subject).

(k) Any existence of automated decision making, including profiling and information about how those decisions are made, their significances and consequences to the data subject.

(l) Whether the provision of personal data is part of a statutory of contractual requirement or obligation and possible consequences for any failure to provide the data (only for data obtained directly from the data subject).


11.  Subject access requests

11.1     An individual has the right to receive confirmation that their data is being processed, access to their personal data and supplementary information which means the information which should be provided in a privacy notice.


12.  How we deal with subject access requests

12.1     We must provide an individual with a copy of the information the request, free of charge. This must occur without delay, and within one month of receipt. We endeavor to provide data subjects access to their information in commonly used electronic formats, and where possible, provide direct access to the information through a remote accessed secure system.

12.2     If complying with the request is complex or numerous, the deadline can be extended by two months, but the individual must be informed within one month. You must obtain approval from the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations before extending the deadline.

12.3     We can refuse to respond to certain requests, and can, in circumstances of the request being manifestly unfounded or excessive, charge a fee. If the request is for a large quantity of data, we can request the individual specify the information they are requesting. This can only be done with express permission from the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations.

12.4     Once a subject access request has been made, you must not change or amend any of the data that has been requested. Doing so is a criminal offence.


13.  Data portability requests

13.1     We must provide the data requested in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format. This would normally be a CSV file, although other formats are acceptable. We must provide this data either to the individual who has requested it, or to the data controller they have requested it be sent to. This must be done free of charge and without delay, and no later than one month. This can be extended to two months for complex or numerous requests, but the individual must be informed of the extension within one month and you must receive express permission from the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations first.


14.  Right to erasure

14.1     What is the Right to Erasure?
Individuals have a right to have their data erased and for processing to cease in the following circumstances:

(a) Where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected and / or processed

(b) Where consent is withdrawn

(c) Where the individual objects to processing and there is no overriding legitimate interest for continuing the processing

(d) The personal data was unlawfully processed or otherwise breached data protection laws

(e) To comply with a legal obligation

(f) The processing relates to a child


15.     How we deal with the right to erasure

15.1     We can only refuse to comply with a right to erasure in the following circumstances:

(a) To exercise the right of freedom of expression and information

(b) To comply with a legal obligation for the performance of a public interest task or exercise of official authority

(c) For public health purposes in the public interest

(d) For archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific research, historical research or statistical purposes

(e) The exercise or defence of legal claims

15.2     If personal data that needs to be erased has been passed onto other parties or recipients, they must be contacted and informed of their obligation to erase the data. If the individual asks, we must inform them of those recipients.


16.     The right to object

16.1       Individuals have the right to object to their data being used on grounds relating to their particular situation. We must cease processing unless:

(a) We have legitimate grounds for processing which override the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual.

(b) The processing relates to the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

16.2     We must always inform the individual of their right to object at the first point of communication, i.e. in the privacy notice. We must offer a way for individuals to object online.


17.  Third parties

17.1     Using Third Party Controllers and Processors

(a) As a data controller and data processor, we must have written contracts in place with any third party that we use. The contract must contain specific clauses which set out our and their liabilities, obligations and responsibilities.

(b) As a data controller, we must only appoint processors who can provide sufficient guarantees under GDPR and that the rights of data subjects will be respected and protected.

(c) As a data processor for our clients, we must only act on the documented instructions of our clients. We acknowledge our responsibilities as a data processor under GDPR and we will protect and respect the rights of data subjects.


18.  Contracts

18.1       Our contracts must comply with the standards set out by the ICO and, where possible, follow the standard contractual clauses which are available. Our contracts with data controllers and data processors must set out the subject matter and duration of the processing, the nature and stated purpose of the processing activities, the types of personal data and categories of data subject, and the obligations and rights of the controller.

At a minimum, our contracts must include terms that specify:

(a) Acting only on written instructions

(b) Those involved in processing the data are subject to a duty of confidence

(c) Appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the security of the processing

(d) Sub-processors will only be engaged with the prior consent of the controller and under a written contract

(e) The controller will assist the processor in dealing with subject access requests and allowing data subjects to exercise their rights under GDPR

(f) The processor will assist the controller in meeting its GDPR obligations in relation to the security of processing, notification of data breaches and implementation of Data Protection Impact Assessments

(g) Delete or return all personal data at the end of the contract

(h) Submit to regular audits and inspections, and provide whatever information necessary for the controller and processor to meet their legal obligations.

(i) Nothing will be done by either the controller or processor to infringe on GDPR.


19.  Audits, monitoring and training

19.1     Data Audits

Regular data audits to manage and mitigate risks will inform the data register. This contains information on what data is held, where it is stored, how it is used, who is responsible and any further regulations or retention timescales that may be relevant. Data audits will be conducted on a quarterly basis.

19.2     Monitoring
Everyone must observe this policy. The Strategic North Board have overall responsibility for this policy. Strategic North Ltd will keep this policy under review and amend or change it as required. You must notify the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations of any breaches of this policy. You must comply with this policy fully and at all times.

19.3     Training
You will receive adequate training on provisions of data protection law, specific for your role. You must complete all training as requested. For healthcare projects, this will include the BHBIA Legal & Ethics online training, completed annually, as well as any client-required self-certification and/or online training.

If you require additional training on data protection matters, contact Head of HR.


20.  Reporting breaches

20.1     Any breach of this policy or of data protection laws must be reported as soon as practically possible. This means as soon as you have become aware of a breach. Strategic North Limited has a legal obligation to report any data breaches to the ICO within 72 hours. We may have client breach reporting clauses also.

20.2     All members of staff have an obligation to report actual or potential data protection compliance failures in line with our data breach process. This allows us to:

(a) Investigate the failure and take remedial steps if necessary

(b) Maintain a register of compliance failures

(c) Notify the ICO of any compliance failures that are material either in their own right or as part of a pattern of failures

20.3     Any team member who fails to notify of a breach, or is found to have known or suspected a breach has occurred but has not followed the correct reporting procedures will be reported to the ICO, and removed from the project and may face disciplinary action. Please refer to our Data Breach Policy.

21.  Failure to comply

21.1     We take compliance with this policy very seriously. Failure to comply puts both you and the organisation at risk.

21.2     The importance of this policy means that failure to comply with any requirement may lead to us being no longer able to work with you.

21.3     If you have any questions or concerns about anything in this policy, do not hesitate to contact the Managing Director and Head of Finance & Business Operations.

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