Privacy policy

1. Introduction

RCVS Knowledge is the charity partner of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Our mission is to advance the quality of veterinary care for the benefit of animals, the public, and society.

RCVS Knowledge aims to be transparent about the data we hold about you. As the charity partner of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons we must retain and process personal data in order to fulfil our legislative requirements under the Charities Act 2011. Aside from these operational requirements set out in legislation, personal information may be retained and processed in order to implement various related procedures, programmes, and RCVS Knowledge objectives.

The purpose of this policy is to give you a clear explanation about how we collect and process your personal data. We are committed to protecting your personal data.

2. How we define personal information (personal data)

'Personal data' means information which relates to a living person who can be identified from that data (a ‘data subject’) on its own, or when taken together with other data which is likely to come into our possession. This may be for example: a name, an address, phone number, email address or even an IP address. It does not include anonymised data.

This policy applies to all personal data whether it is stored electronically, on paper or on other materials. We will comply with the lawful basis processing requirements under Article 6 of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

3. How long we hold personal data for

We will only retain personal data for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes for which we collected it, including for the purposes of satisfying any legal, or reporting requirements.

To determine the appropriate retention period for personal data, we consider the amount, nature, and sensitivity of the personal data, the potential risk of harm from unauthorised use or disclosure of your personal data, the purposes for which we process your personal data and whether we can achieve those purposes through other means, and the applicable legal requirements.

This means that we may keep your personal data after a particular matter or exchange has been concluded, for record keeping purposes and to be able to respond to queries. In some cases we are also obliged to hold personal data to comply with legal or statutory obligations.

If you would like more information on our retention policy please email

Types of data we collect/what we use it for

We may collect and process different kinds of personal data about you depending on your relationship with us and why you are in contact with us. We have broken down the types of personal data we collect by the types of services we provide, as follows:

Library & Information Service

Our Library & Information Service provides access to a range of services and resources for veterinary professionals. We obtain personal information from you when you enquire or make use of our library services or apply for library membership. The personal data we collect to fulfill our library functions may include your name, address, telephone number and email address. We will retain this information on a contractual basis and in line with financial regulatory requirements. When your membership lapses we will use your personal data to send you a renewal reminder.

We will obtain your personal data if you become a member of the inFOCUS journal watch Clinical Review Team. We will retain your name and email address. Your personal information will be processed on a consent and contractual basis as long as you are involved in the work of the journal watch. We will not use the data for any other purposes.

Veterinary Evidence

Veterinary Evidence is an online journal that aims to enhance the knowledge base of the veterinary profession. It is freely available for anyone to use. We obtain personal information in order for you to participate in the work of this journal as an author, reviewer or member of the editorial board. We will retain your name, address, telephone number and email address. Your personal information will be processed on a consent and contractual basis as long as you are involved in the work of the journal. We will not use the data for any other purposes.

Quality Improvement

The Quality Improvement Project aims to provide tools and resources to help veterinary professionals to continue to improve the quality of their practice. This includes the National Audit for Small Animal Neutering and the Canine Cruciate Registry, which are part of vetAUDIT.

Personal data will be obtained from you when you choose to participate in the project or make use of certain resources. We will retain your name and email address in order to administer the project. Your personal data will be retained on a consent and contractual basis as long as you are involved in the project. We will not use the data for any other purposes.

Participation in projects is voluntary, you are free to withdraw your consent at any time, without explanation, after which only anonymised data will remain.

Grants and Awards

We offer a grants and awards programme on an annual basis to veterinary professionals. We obtain personal data from you and retain it on a contractual basis when you enquire about, or when you submit, an application to the programme. The personal data of those grant enquiries and unsuccessful applications are deleted after 24 months.

If a grant is approved, we will retain your personal data in line with financial requirements. The personal data we collect may include your name, address, telephone number and email address. Successful applicants will also provide their personal financial details in order for us to administer the grant. We will retain this information on a contractual basis and in line with financial regulatory requirements.

Learn – e-learning platform

We offer e-learning via Learn our Moodle-based platform. We obtain personal data from you when you create an account on Learn. We will retain your name and email address. Your personal information will be processed on a consent basis to allow you to access our courses. We will not use the data for any other purposes. Your data will be deleted 36 months after your last use of the Learn platform.

Making a donation

We welcome donations from the veterinary profession and wider public to enable us to meet our charitable objectives. We obtain personal and financial information when you make a donation or choose to participate in an event on our behalf. The personal information we collect may include your name, address, telephone number and email address. Financial donations are administered through a third party processor or paid directly into our bank account. All financial information is encrypted and secured by our third party processor. We hold records of donations securely and in line with financial legislative requirements.


With your consent we will send you our regular newsletter intheKNOW, our journal watch inFOCUS or posts on our blog. In order to do this we collect your name and email address. Data is held as long as consent is in place, you are able to unsubscribe at any time.


We use Google Analytics as a statistical tool to gather information in order for us to analyse the use of our website. Google Analytics stores this information as a cookie on the visitor’s computer.

The statistical information generated by Google Analytics relating to our website is used to create internal reports to help improve the content and user experience of our website. For further information on Google Analytics use of data please refer to Google Analytics' 'Safeguarding your data' page.

In order for us to provide you with a better website experience, we will use cookies enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not.

A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you, other than the data you choose to share with us. Please see RCVS Knowledge Cookie Policy for further information.

Media relations

Members of the media may also request to receive our press releases, and so provide an address, email address and phone number for us to hold and use for this purpose, which we do on the basis of consent.

5. How do we collect your data?

We collect your personal data in a number of ways depending on your relationship with us.

When you give it to us directly

You may give us your personal data, in order to register with us, to access our services, to participate in our activities or to take part in surveys.

Where a third party provides us with your data

The RCVS may share the personal data of veterinary professionals with us on a consent basis.

Where it is available publicly

We may combine personal data you provide with information from other sources, such as newspapers and Companies House.

When you use our websites and designated products

We use cookies to measure visits to and use of our websites. This helps us to understand our website users and to improve the website experience for you. We may also use cookies in order to provide you with services, for example, when logging into your Learn account or to store your preferences when using our sites and/or services. You may configure your browser to reject these cookies, but please note that if you do so, we may not be able to offer you access to all of our services. Please see our Cookie Policy.

We may collect other data from your use of the website, e.g. IP address.

Even though we may link to other websites from our website, this policy does not cover third-party websites and we cannot be responsible for the content or privacy policies of those sites.

When you connect with us on social media

We use several social media sites and applications, e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to raise awareness of our work and promote good veterinary practice.

Your use of these sites and applications will be subject to each one’s terms and conditions. Please read their privacy and cookie notices carefully and ensure you are happy with how your information is being used by that site.

6. Disclosing your details to third parties

There are certain circumstances under which we may disclose your personal information to third parties. These are as follows:

  • We will disclose personal data to our service providers who process data on our behalf and on our instructions
  • Where we are under a duty to disclose your personal data if asked to do so by the police or other authority investigating suspected illegal activities

We do not sell personal data to third parties for any purpose.

Security of your personal data

We place the highest importance on the securing of your personal data. We employ industry leading approaches to secure both your physical (paper) and digital (files and database entries) data. For cyber security reasons we do not publically disclose the exact nature of the methods/techniques we use to secure your data.

We make every effort to protect its databases against loss, theft, unauthorised access, disclosure, copying, unauthorised use or modification.

We only allow those of our employees who require access to such information in order to fulfil their duties to have such access.

For security purposes we use software programs to monitor traffic to identify unauthorised attempts to upload or change personal data, to screen our system for viruses, or otherwise cause damage to our database.

In addition to a broad range of cyber security provisions across all our systems and information stores, our web sites and web applications encrypt your data in transit using SSL and comparable encryption standards.

When it is necessary for you to make a card payment, e.g. renewal of library fee, information is handled by established industry partners and is not stored by us. However, no data transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed to be totally secure. As a result, whilst we strive to protect your personal information, we cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information which you send to us, and so you do so at your own risk.

When we outsource any processes, we require the third party supplier to have appropriate security measures in place and be compliant with the GDPR principles. We require all third parties to respect the privacy of your personal data and to treat it in accordance with the

Third-party service providers should process your personal data for specified purposes and in accordance with our instructions and should not use your personal data for their own purposes. They will also be contractually bound by non-disclosure agreements to ensure the security of your personal data.

If any of your personal data is to be transferred to another country, we will ensure that suitable safeguards are in place before personal data is shared. We will not transfer, process or store your data anywhere that is outside of the European Economic Area, unless we have a contractual agreement in place that is of an equivalent standard to GDPR.

8. Your legal rights

The General Data Protection Regulations provides certain rights for individuals. Please note that you may only use/benefit from these in defined circumstances.

For more information you can check the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website or contact us using the details in paragraph 9 of this policy. We are committed to upholding these rights, which are as follows:

Request access to your personal data

You have a right to request a copy of the personal data that we hold about you. Please use the contact details at the end of this policy if you would like to exercise this right and view our Accessing Information Policy for further guidance.

Request correction of your personal data

You have the right to request that we correct the personal data we hold about you, although we may verify the accuracy of the new information you provide to us.

Request ‘erasure’ of your personal data (The right to be forgotten)

You have the right to request that we delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it.

Please note that we may not always be able to comply with your request for erasure if there are specific legal reasons. These reasons will be conveyed when the application is made and assessed.

Object to processing of your personal data

You have the right to object to the processing of your personal data where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on the grounds that it impacts on your fundamental rights and freedoms.

Right to withdraw consent

In circumstances where we are relying on your consent to process your personal data, you have the right to withdraw your consent at any time. However, this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing carried out before you withdraw your consent.

If you withdraw your consent, we may not be able to provide services to you. We will advise you if this is the case at the time you withdraw your consent.

Right to data portability

In certain circumstances, we will provide to you, or a third party you have chosen, your personal data in a structured, commonly used, machine-readable format.

Please note that this right only applies to automated data which you initially provided consent for us to use or where we used the data to perform a contract with you.


If you have any queries or concerns then please contact us. If you are unhappy with the way in which we have handled your personal data, please contact us at:

Ms Clare Boulton
Head of Library & Knowledge Services
RCVS Knowledge
3 Waterhouse Square
138-142 Holborn

T 020 7202 0710
F 020 7202 0751

You are entitled to make a complaint to the ICO. For further information, please visit the ICO website.

This page was first published on 15th November 2020.

The information on this page was last updated on Monday, 28th November 2022.