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    Our work with the ICO

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    Our work with the ICO

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    At NCDV, safeguarding the integrity of our clients’ and employees’ data under the GDPR framework is a paramount commitment. In our continuous effort to refine our processes and uphold the highest standards, we welcomed the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for an onsite audit on the 15th and 16th of May 2023.

    The ICO, an independent regulator, views auditing as a collaborative process aimed at ensuring robust compliance with personal data protection standards. Their expertise and regulatory approach provided us with a well-defined audit plan.

    The audit process, though rigorous, proved to be instrumental. It identified areas for improvement and, where necessary, made recommendations to fortify our adherence to the UK GDPR and DPA18 regulations.

    A total of 45 recommendations were outlined in the ICO’s original audit report, each prioritised based on the perceived risks they aimed to mitigate.

    Over the subsequent months, we worked diligently to address every point raised, underscoring our commitment to data security and compliance. In February 2024, we invited the ICO for a follow-up audit.

    The feedback from this audit reflected substantial advancements:

    1. NCDV have implemented an effective Information Governance (IG) strategy with clear reporting lines, requirements and responsibilities.

    2. NCDV have improved their records management procedures.

    3. NCDV have reviewed and updated their DP training programme.

    4. NCDV have an effective risk management strategy in place to manage information risks.

    5. NCDV have identified their information assets which are now recorded in their hybrid IAR/ROPA document.

    6. NCDV have created a DPIA process which includes guidance for staff, a DPIA screening checklist and a DPIA template

    The ICO concluded that NCDV has successfully implemented a comprehensive IG strategy, encompassing updated policies, procedures, DP training, and monthly risk meetings. The proactive engagement with the ICO and external consultants to elevate our DP compliance was also duly recognised.

    NCDV would strongly recommend any organisation handling sensitive client information to embrace GDPR and carry out an independent external audit to provide them with an action plan to ensure compliance with the regulations.

    Although we have done some great work there is still more to do. Our future plans are to continue in developing our GDPR strategy and make any necessary updates and changes. My thanks go to all those who have been involved with this project.

    Mark Groves 

    CEO

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    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”