How SHIP can support your role as a data custodian

SHIP’s guiding principles and operating procedures provide you, the data custodian, with the confidence that when you provide access to health data for research purposes via SHIP, this data will be used in accordance with optimal information governance standards.  SHIP offers you the security of knowing that the data you are responsible for is safe data being processed by safe people in safe environments because:

  • Applicants for data access through SHIP must have SHIP accredited approved researcher status;
  • The proposed research use of the data, including its relative risks to privacy and public interest benefits, will be subject to an authorisation process proportionate to a risk category assigned according to a triage process based on transparent criteria;
  • Once a research use has been authorised the researchers will be held to the conditions of this approval by a binding Data Sharing Agreement, breaches of these agreements will be penalised;
  • SHIP offers a Safe Haven service, as recommended by the UK Ministry of Justice’s 2008 Data Sharing Review Report, which is at the dispoal ofdata custodias as appripriate;
  • As data custodian you will be able to set conditions on the uses of the data, including making it a requirement that researchers access the data only through a SHIP safe haven and specifying degrees of anonymisation;
  • SHIP safe havens provide a data indexing and linkage service to anonymise or partially anonymise the data.  This means that researchers will only be able to access data at the level of person-identifiability needed for your particular research aims and as set out in your data sharing agreement;
  • The SHIP safe haven takes on the legal responsibilities of data controller jointly with you, the data custodian, for the duration of the project. The Safe Haven is a data controller for both the received datasets and the newly created linked dataset;
  • The safe haven also performs statistical disclosure control on the results of any analysis before releasing these results to researchers, automatically archives the datasets and acts as a repository for all the necessary documentation and approvals for data linkage;
  • You will be able to seek the advice of a Privacy Advisory Committee (PAC) on the sensitivities of providing access to the data, even if you are not a data custodian within NSS Information Services Division (ISD) or National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The route-map ‘Assessing requests for data access through SHIP’ within this Toolkit will guide you step-by-step through your assessment of requests from researchers to use data for which you are responsible and explain how SHIP can facilitate this process and maximise the safe handling of your data.

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