Why Should We Have Record Retention and Deletion Policies?
- A survivor’s data belongs to the survivor; agencies might collect and store a survivor’s data temporarily in order to better support that survivor’s needs, but if your agency or collaboration collects data, it has an obligation to safeguard that data, and make sure that your data collection activities do no harm.
- Any data collection or sharing you undertake should result in decreased risks to victims; your data collection processes should never increase risks for victims.
- Some agencies and coordinated community responses (i.e., with courts, law enforcement, prosecutors) have practices or obligatory situations where they might share a survivor’s data or make it part of a public record or online database. For safety reasons, any agency or partnership that has these practices or obligations should provide upfront notice to the survivor and fully discuss all options a survivor has to prevent or restrict the data access or sharing including sealing or restricting access to a record, and, preventing a record from being published online for safety reasons.
- As part of any data collection activities, it is better to have accurate data. Because victims’ lives and circumstances change, especially when having to respond to the perpetrator’s tactics, the data an agency collects one day can become outdated or inaccurate tomorrow.
To increase victim safety and record accuracy, you should have clear policies and processes at the program, agency, and collaboration level that address record review, retention and deletion.