The Policy Directorate is split into four departments:

Parliament and Government Affairs Department – makes sure the ICO is known, understood and influential with parliamentarians and government in Westminster and Whitehall. Making a noticeable difference to our key information rights issues with emphasis on public policy, state surveillance and changes to the law affecting the ICO’s information rights interests. This includes data protection regulation after the UK leaves the EU. The department leads the ICO’s policy engagement in the  police, justice and state surveillance sectors. It is also engaged on key compliance issues with central government bodies, elected representatives and political parties and acts as a central point for the ICO’s work with civil society organisations. 

Policy and Engagement Department – develops policy positions and products on core information rights issues. The department leads and coordinates the ICO information rights guidance and contributes a lot to policy development at a European level. We also play a key role in knowledge management within the ICO providing lines to take for ICO staff and offering technical and policy support on information rights issues that are important to the organisation. We own the ICO information rights training packages and coordinate their delivery via an internal training network. Our engagement teams lead the ICO's relationships with strategic stakeholders in the private and third sectors and across public services, including education, local government and health.

International Strategy and Intel Department - The International team ensure the ICO remains influential with relevant international stakeholders, promoting strong information rights, and protecting UK citizens’ personal information through cross border cooperation, enforcement and case handling. The Intelligence Hub is responsible for scanning, collecting, analysing, assessing, evaluating and disseminating intelligence gathered from sources inside and outside the ICO. Each team delivers separate strategies which support the ICO’s Information Rights Strategy; the recently launched International Strategy sets out those challenges and priorities.

Technology Policy - develops policy positions and products in relation to information technology and information security issues. It also contributes a lot to information technology policy development at a European level. The department provides significant technical support and expertise to strategic files, high profile cases and leads on the development of the ICO’s technology strategy.

What skills do we look for?

We value people who are interested in the way society is run and have the ability to analyse complex legislation and understand the operations of organisations across the public, private and third sectors. Key skills and qualities that are required of our people are:

  • excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • the ability to rapidly assimilate and digest high volumes of complex information;
  • the ability to prioritise a busy and varied workload and manage projects from start to finish;
  • experience of policy formulation and drafting;
  • strong interpersonal skills and the ability to negotiate; and
  • the ability to travel to external meetings and conferences on a regular basis.

Roles in Policy Directorate

Each department in the Policy Directorate is led by a Head of Department. Within the department there are Group Managers, Senior Policy Officers, Lead Policy Officers and Policy Officers.

Group Managers

Group Managers head an assigned group with defined responsibility for policy issues and functions which can include engagement activities.

They review group activities, assess policy priorities, contribute to the strategic direction of the Policy Directorate and provide technical expertise to their direct reports to add value to the development of policy positions and products. They can  be involved in engagement with stakeholders on significant issues. Group Managers  will also make sure all staff in their group are clear about the standards expected and are managed effectively to develop their potential.

Senior Policy Officers and Lead Policy Officers

These roles have specified responsibility for developing and producing external guidance or technical advice on complex information rights issues. They lead and influence thinking in the development of policy matters within the relevant department and represent the ICO at selected national and international events, including speaking engagements, meetings with stakeholders and meetings of the Article 29 Working Party where appropriate. External stakeholder engagement on important and developing issues can also feature.

The work is assigned to individual officers depending on the specific role and group they work within.

Policy Officers

Policy Officers support senior colleagues in managing specific relationships with the assigned group, taking the lead in limited areas that do not involve a lot of negotiation such as with cross sector or special interest groups. They also provide research support on areas of policy development.

Lead Intelligence Officer

The Lead Intelligence Officer is responsible for conducting general and themed research and analysis, developing and completing intelligence collection plans, understanding and interpreting intelligence products, building intelligence pictures and identifying new and emerging trends to facilitate a risk-based approach to regulatory activity.

Intelligence Officer

The Intelligence Officer is responsible for conducting general and themed intelligence gathering and analysis. They are also responsible for developing and completing intelligence collection plans, understanding and interpreting intelligence products, building intelligence pictures and identifying new and emerging threats and trends to facilitate a risk-based approach to regulatory activity.