NatCen Opinion Panel: privacy notice

Who is collecting my data?

NatCen Social Research is Britain’s largest independent social research agency. For over 50 years, we have been working with charities, universities and government to find out what people really think about the big issues. NatCen is independent of all government departments and political parties.

Why are you contacting me?

We are contacting you because you said at the end of one of our sister studies that you would be willing to take part in future research. The NatCen Opinion Panel is an exciting research project, funded by charities, universities and public bodies, which follows thousands of people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The aim is to provide a truly representative picture of the UK. By taking part you’ll be making your opinion on important issues count and ensuring that your views, and the views of people like you, are represented.

What if I change my mind about taking part?

You are under no obligation take part in any questionnaire. Participation is completely voluntary – it’s your choice. You can change your mind at any point about taking part.

What data is being collected?

We ask questions about a variety of topics – from housing and politics, to health and happiness – with the aim of seeking to help charities, universities and government better understand what is going on in the UK today. To help with analysis, we ask for some information classed as sensitive personal data, such as ethnicity. Participation is entirely voluntary and you can skip individual questions if you prefer.

To help us administer the survey, we collect information such as your contact details and the type of device with which you access our questionnaires online. On occasion we may ask your permission to link your survey answers to other data, for instance held by government departments – but only with your permission and only ever for research purposes.

What will you do with the information I give?

The information you give will be used for research purposes only. This includes selecting and inviting you to take part in surveys and analysis to answer research questions. Sometimes your answers will be analysed together with answers you gave to previous questionnaires to help understand things like how people’s views are changing over time. All data will be processed in line with the lawful basis provided at the time of data collection. Most of the results will appear as percentages and statistics - we will not identify your individual opinion in the results without seeking your direct permission.

Pseudonymised data may be shared with research funders and/or collaborators and/or lodged with the UK Data Service for use by bona fide researchers.

What is pseudonymised data?

Pseudonymisation replaces personal information with aliases to make data sets more private. Pseudonymised data cannot be matched to an identifiable person unless it is combined with a separate set of information. 

Will my contact information be shared with anyone else?

We will never share your contact details with third parties, including government, charities or commercial companies for marketing purposes.  If there was a legitimate research purpose for sharing contact details or identifiable information, we would only do so with your direct permission.

How does the NatCen Opinion Panel keep data safe?

All the information we collect is held in accordance with current data protection legislation (GDPR).  All information you provide to us is stored on our secure servers.  We use strict procedures and security features to prevent unauthorised access. NatCen holds ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus certifications.

How long will the information I give be held?

All your personal details will be held until no longer required for research purposes, in accordance with current data protection legislation (GDPR). The pseudonymised datasets will be kept indefinitely, as they will continue to be useful to researchers and policy makers.

Under this legislation, NatCen is the 'Data Controller' for your contact details and demographic information and we process your information for research purposes on the basis of ‘Legitimate Interest’. We process your special category data under the condition of ‘Archiving, research and statistics’.

The 'Data Controller' for your other survey answers will change from survey to survey, as may their basis for processing information, but NatCen will never pass on your identifiable information to them without your permission, and only for research purposes. We will tell you about who we are conducting research on behalf of in our communications to you, but you can also contact us to find out more. By way of illustration, in previous surveys this has included university research teams, government departments and charitable foundations.

Will I have access to my data?

If your contact details change, please get in touch and we can update them. If you have recently completed a questionnaire for us and subsequently change your mind about taking part or about any of the answers you gave then we’ll always do our best to amend or delete your data. However, because your data are collected for research and statistical purposes, you do not have the right to access it or request for it to be amended. 

Any questions?

If you have any questions you can contact us on Freephone 0800 652 4569 or by emailing

You can also contact the NatCen Data Protection Officer by email:

If you wish to lodge a complaint you can email or call Freephone 0800 652 4569.

You can also contact the Information Commissioner’s Office