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Local councils sell on YOUR details for £64,000

News | Published:

Personal information is being routinely sold by councils across the Black Country and Staffordshire, it can be revealed.

The 'full' electoral roll – which lists the names and addresses of everyone registered to vote – was sold more than 116 times between 2011 and 2015, bringing in a total of £64,140 for local authorities.

Meanwhile the 'edited' version – which is available to anyone to buy but can also be 'opted out' of – was sold more than 31 times over the same period, raking in an additional £4,326.

Walsall Council recorded the most sales of the register between 2011 and 2015, selling the 'full' version 36 times and the 'edited' version 14 times, for a total of £18,686.50.

The practice of buying and selling the information is believed to contribute greatly to the quantity of unsolicited junk mail sent out by private companies.

West Midlands UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge, criticised the widespread sale of the information held on the electoral register.

He said: "People have got a right to expect a degree of care to be taken over their personal details. They should be able to feel confident their details are kept safe and are not being sold on without their knowledge."

Use of the 'full' version of the register is restricted to elections, preventing and detecting crime and checking applications for loans or credit.

This means credit agencies are the sole purchaser of the 'full' roll.

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The edited register is an extract of the full register, but is not used for elections.

It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. Frequent buyers include direct-marketing firms, charities and debt-collection agencies.

While anyone can opt-out of the edited version by contacting their local Electoral Registration Office, Mr Etheridge believes it is an option few are aware of.

Figures released following a Freedom of Information request reveal that Walsall Council sold the 'edited' register to organisations including carpet fitting firms, Imperial College London and Park Home Insurance Services.

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Sandwell Council recorded £16,068.50 in sales over the period but did not disclose the number of transactions.

Wolverhampton Council brought in £11,331 from 29 sales of the register, including seven of the 'edited' version.

Buyers included individuals acquiring the information for 'marketing' purposes and mobile phone service provider, The People's Operator.

Dudley Council had a total income of £10,797 from 21 sales of the register with buyers including a wedding venue and banqueting suite.

Stafford and Cannock councils brought in a total of £11,583 between them through 47 individual transactions.

Councils have no discretion on whether or not to sell the 'edited' register or over the fees which are charged.

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