During 2008/09 the ICO carried out an investigation into employment blacklisting in the construction industry. As part of that investigation, the ICO seized information from a company called The Consulting Association. Some of the information we seized amounted to a 'blacklist' of individuals who were considered to pose a risk to their employers if employed within the construction industry.
How do I know if The Consulting Association held information about me?
Since 2009 we have been operating a fast-track service so individuals can telephone the ICO and find out whether their name is included within the information seized from The Consulting Association. You can telephone us and we will check the information held. If there might be information that relates to you we will ask you to provide proof of identity and then we will provide you with a copy of the information held. We have also been trying to proactively contact individuals who might have been affected by the activities of The Consulting Association.
I’ve received a letter from the ICO about the blacklist. What should I do next?
You can see the letter we sent out and a blacklist factsheet here. We ask that you contact us by post or email and provide some additional identifying information. We will then check the seized information and provide you with any information where we are satisfied that it relates to you.
In a few cases, there might not be enough information within the seized information to determine that it relates to a specific individual but if this is the case we will tell you.
You may want to use the template letter below:
[Your full address]
Subject access request
[please insert your full name, date of birth and current address]
Please supply the information about me I am entitled to under the Data Protection Act 1998 from the information seized by the ICO from The Consulting Association.
I have included:
• My National Insurance number
• A copy of correspondence showing my name and current address
• A copy of identification showing my name and date of birth (for example, a copy of my passport or driving licence)
• List of my previous addresses
If you need any more information from me, please let me know as soon as possible.
If all your identifying information is available electronically, you can email your letter and identifying information to us at email@example.com.
Or, post it to us at:
Information Access Team
Information Commissioner's Office
I haven’t received a letter. What should I do to find out if I am on the database?
If you wish to check whether information about you is held on the database you can call our helpline on 0303 123 1113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Give us your name and a contact telephone number and an ICO case officer will call you back. The officer will search the database. If no match is found, we will confirm this straight away.
If the details you provide are similar to, or seem likely to match those of someone on the database, we will ask you to provide us with further identification in writing. Once we have verified your identity and confirmed whether your details match those on the database, we will contact you to confirm if information is held about you and provide you with a copy of it.
Why is the ICO not writing to everyone?
In many cases the seized information is old and incomplete and there simply isn’t enough information for us to be able to confidently identify an individual. We are contacting as many people as we can.
What action has the ICO taken against construction companies?
The ICO issued enforcement notices against 14 construction companies based on the evidence recovered from The Consulting Association.
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited
Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Ireland
Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish & Southern Limited
Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (HY) Limited
Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited
Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Limited
C B & I UK Limited
Emcor Engineering Services Limited
Emcor Rail Limited
N G Bailey Limited
Shepherd Engineering Services Limited
Sias Building Services Limited
Whessoe Oil & Gas Limited
What did the ICO do about The Consulting Association and the construction companies which used it?
The ICO prosecuted Ian Kerr, who ran The Consulting Association. He was fined £5,000 for a data protection offence and The Consulting Association ceased trading. The ICO also issued enforcement notices to 14 construction companies.
Could the ICO have issued a more substantial penalty?
It was disappointing to us that we could not issue more substantial penalties, but these were the maximum legal powers available to us at the time. We have since been given the power to issue civil monetary penalties up to £500,000, but these can only be issued where a breach of the Data Protection Act has taken place after April 2010.
Could you have contacted people sooner?
The ICO’s focus since 2009 has been on helping those who feature on the list. To complement our helpline, we set up a fast-track service to allow anyone who suspected they were on the list to find out if they were, and get a copy of any information held about them.
Earlier this year, we wrote to 103 people in the cases where we had the individual’s address and were able to establish its accuracy with the help of Equifax.
In total, we’ve now taken over 4,000 calls from individuals wanting to know if their name was included on the blacklist, using the fast-track process. We have also received over 1,200 written requests, from which 467 individuals have been provided with copies of their information. That figure will continue to grow in the coming weeks, as we help more and more people.
We’ve also worked with construction trade unions to try to proactively reach more individuals whose information is included within The Consulting Association files. We provided details of individuals included on the list to the construction trade unions, which they cross-referenced with their membership lists.
I’ve heard there are other blacklists – what is the ICO doing about this?
The investigation into The Consulting Association did not find evidence of other blacklists. This is the only blacklist held by the ICO. However, if you think you have any evidence about the operation of a further blacklist then you can contact our casework team about this.
How do I find out more about the issue of blacklisting?
The Scottish Affairs Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into employment blacklisting and you can read more about this on their website.