Privacy Policy

What is the purpose of this document?

The British Ecological Society (BES) is committed to protecting the privacy and security of your personal information.

This privacy policy describes how we collect and use your personal information in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).

BES is a ‘data controller’. This means that we are responsible for deciding how we hold and use personal information about you. We are required under data protection legislation to notify you of the information contained in this privacy policy.

This notice applies to any person whose personal data we or our third party suppliers may process. We may update this notice at any time.

It is important that you read this notice, together with any other privacy policies we may provide on specific occasions when we are collecting or processing personal information about you, so that you are aware of how and why we are using such information.

Data protection principles

We will comply with data protection law. This states that the personal information we hold about you must be:

  1. Used lawfully, fairly and in a transparent way
  2. Collected only for valid purposes that we have clearly explained to you and not used in any way that is incompatible with those purposes
  3. Relevant to the purposes we have told you about and limited only to those purposes
  4. Accurate and kept up to date
  5. Kept only as long as necessary for the purposes we have told you about
  6. Kept securely

What information do we hold about you?

We may collect, store and use certain categories of personal information about you. If you are booking a ticket, registering for an event, applying for a membership or any other activity on behalf of a third party, we may also collect personal data about that third party as well as your own.

The information we may collect is as follows:

  • Personal contact details, such as; name, title, addresses, telephone numbers, and personal email addresses
  • Social media details e.g. Twitter or Instagram
  • Institutional and/or corporate contact details such as; job title, department, address, telephone numbers and email address
  • Details of academic study and/or qualifications/awards
  • Records relating to article submission, publication and editorial roles on the BES for the BES journals
  • Records relating to abstract submission for events
  • Professional memberships
  • Date of birth or age
  • Gender
  • Education/employment/volunteering status and history
  • Marketing preferences
  • Tracking and engagement across the society
  • Areas of special interest and expertise
  • Payment information
  • Next of kin and emergency contact information if you are a volunteer

We may also collect, store and use the following “special categories” of more sensitive personal information:

  • Equality monitoring data
  • Health and allergy information
  • Disability information
  • Record of any criminal convictions or allegations of criminal activity (if you are volunteering to work with young or vulnerable people)

How is your personal information collected?

As a general rule we collect personal information directly from you when you join the society, apply for a grant or register for one of our events. In most circumstances where the personal information that we collect about you is held by a third party, we will obtain your permission before we seek out this information from such sources (such permission may be given directly by you, or implied from your actions). For example, where we receive a reference or nomination.

From time to time, we may use the services of third parties and may also receive personal information collected by those third parties in the course of the performance of their services for us. In that case, we will take reasonable steps to ensure that such third parties have represented to us that they have the right to disclose your personal information to us.

What legal basis do we rely on to process your personal information?

We will only use your personal information when the law allows us to. Most commonly, we will use your personal information in the following circumstances:

  1. Where we need to perform the contract we have entered into with you
  2. Where we need to comply with a legal obligation, for example financial record keeping
  3. Where it is necessary for our legitimate interests (or those of a third party) and your interests and fundamental rights do not override those interests.
  4. With your consent, for example to send you marketing communications

What will we use your personal information for?

We use the categories of information in the list above primarily to allow us to perform our contract with you and to enable us to comply with legal obligations. In some circumstances we may use your personal information to pursue legitimate interests of our own or those of third parties, provided your interests and fundamental rights do not override those interests. The situations in which we will process your personal information are listed below.

  • To process your membership application
  • Manage your membership and subsequent renewal
  • Financial record keeping
  • Provide the benefits of membership
  • To provide you with information relating to an event you have registered for
  • If you have submitted an abstract to an event or conference, your name and details of your abstract submission may be used to compile the event programme and appear in printed or digital materials for the event
  • Delegate information will be contained within our conference app: however, all delegates have control over which other attendees of events may see their information within this app
  • To assist any relevant third parties in the delivery of our events e.g. details passed to an external events organiser or to confirm delegate details and attendance
  • To consider and administer awards and grants
  • To process competition entries, for example Capturing Ecology
  • To administer data related to Capturing Ecology, including associated exhibitions and promotion on social media
  • If you have previously been awarded a grant, to maintain a record of your awards
  • For the publication of journal articles
  • To administer all memberships and processing related to Applied Ecology Resources (AER)
  • Administer the BES and fulfil its aims and objectives, for example the AGM, internal elections, assessing and developing services which may be of interest to members
  • To pursue our charitable and fundraising objectives
  • To identify expertise within the membership which could be used to promote our core objectives
  • Keep you up to date with news, via our email newsletter, about the BES’s activities, according to your communication preferences which may include direct marketing of our own products and services
  • To send our members relevant surveys relating to their membership or the provision of our services to them
  • To send relevant surveys to attendees of BES events or training sessions
  • To send surveys to authors and reviewers engaging with BES journals
  • To manage your membership of any Special Interest Group you may join
  • To manage mentoring programmes
  • To run training courses
  • To manage the membership of BES networks, for example the REED Network
  • If you are a volunteer, to maintain a record of your volunteering activity
  • Record details of your interactions with us
  • To conduct data analytics studies to review and better understand member engagement when we communicate with you and when you access member benefits. This also includes member retention and attrition rates
  • Equal opportunities monitoring
  • To issue delegate certificates, including visa invitation letters and certificates of attendance, based on your instruction
  • To process applications and expressions of interest related to volunteering and to facilitate volunteering, including organising an Annual Meeting thematic session or workshop, organising a SIG event or activity, volunteering as a Helper at our Annual Meeting, and volunteering as a chair at one of our events
  • To manage the process following the purchase of an exhibition space or sponsorship at a BES event

Some of the above grounds for processing will overlap and there may be several grounds which justify our use of your personal information.

If you fail to provide personal information

If you fail to provide certain information when requested, we may not be able to perform the contract we have entered into with you (such as making an award or providing a benefit), or we may be prevented from complying with our legal obligations (such as to ensure the health and safety of our members at events).

Change of purpose

We will only use your personal information for the purposes for which we collected it, unless we reasonably consider that we need to use it for another reason and that reason is compatible with the original purpose. If we need to use your personal information for an unrelated purpose, we will notify you and we will explain the legal basis which allows us to do so.

Please note that we may process your personal information without your knowledge or consent, in compliance with the above rules, where this is required or permitted by law.

How we use sensitive personal information

‘Special categories’ of sensitive personal information require higher levels of protection. We need to have further justification for collecting, storing and using this type of personal information. We may process special categories of personal information in the following circumstances:

  1. In limited circumstances, with your explicit written consent
  2. Where we need to carry out our legal obligations and in line with our data protection policy
  3. Where it is needed in the public interest, such as for equal opportunities monitoring
  4. To help us make any adjustments to accommodate you if you have a disability
  5. To ensure we take account of your dietary requirements and allergies
  6. Where it is needed to assess your voluntary working capacity on health grounds, subject to appropriate confidentiality safeguards
  7. To assess your suitability to work with young people and/or vulnerable individuals if you are a volunteer

Less commonly, we may process this type of information where it is needed in relation to legal claims or where it is needed to protect your interests (or someone else’s interests) and you are not capable of giving your consent, or where you have already made the information public.

Do we need your consent?

We do not need your consent if we use special categories of your personal information in accordance with our written policy to carry out our legal obligations or exercise specific rights in the field of safeguarding, health and safety and equality monitoring. In limited circumstances, we may approach you for your written consent to allow us to process certain particularly sensitive data. If we do so, we will provide you with full details of the information that we would like and the reason we need it, so that you can carefully consider whether you wish to consent. You should be aware that it is not a condition of your contract with us that you agree to any request for consent from us.

Information about criminal convictions 

We may only use information relating to criminal convictions where the law allows us to do so. This will usually be where such processing is necessary to carry out our obligations and provided we do so in line with our data protection policy.

Less commonly, we may use information relating to criminal convictions where it is necessary in relation to legal claims, where it is necessary to protect your interests (or someone else’s interests) and you are not capable of giving your consent, or where you have already made the information public.

We will only collect information about criminal convictions if it is appropriate given the nature of the volunteer role and where we are legally able to do so. Where appropriate, we will collect information about criminal convictions as part of the volunteer recruitment process. We will only use information about criminal convictions and offences to safeguard those people who our member volunteers may work with.

Automated decision-making

Automated decision-making takes place when an electronic system uses personal information to make a decision without human intervention. We are allowed to use automated decision-making in the following circumstances:

  1. Where we have notified you of the decision and given you 21 days to request a reconsideration
  2. Where it is necessary to perform the contract with you and appropriate measures are in place to safeguard your rights
  3. In limited circumstances, with your explicit written consent and where appropriate measures are in place to safeguard your rights

If we make an automated decision on the basis of any particularly sensitive personal information, we must have either your explicit written consent or it must be justified in the public interest, and we must also put in place appropriate measures to safeguard your rights.

You will not be subject to decisions that will have a significant impact on you based solely on automated decision-making, unless we have a lawful basis for doing so and we have notified you.

Disclosure of your data to third parties

We may have to disclose your data with third parties, including third-party service providers (data processors).

We require third parties to respect the security of your data and to treat it in accordance with the law.

We may transfer your personal information outside the EU.

If we do, you can expect a similar degree of protection in respect of your personal information.

Why might you disclose my personal information with third parties?

We may disclose your personal information with third parties where required by law, where it is necessary for the administration of membership services with you or where we have another legitimate interest in doing so.

Which third-party service providers process my personal information?

‘Third parties’ includes third-party service providers and other entities. The following activities are carried out by third-party service providers:

  • Flexi-Grant (our grants processing database)
  • ScholarOne (manuscript submission portal)
  • Dryad (data-archiving platform integrated with ScholarOne)
  • Cambridge University Press (publisher of the Ecological Reviews book series)
  • Soundcloud (podcast hosting and distribution platform)
  • SPS (journal typesetter)
  • Aptara (journal typesetter)
  • iThenticate (plagiarism checking)
  • YouTube (video-streaming platform)
  • Identilam (conference name badge printers)
  • Society for Experimental Biology (if you are part of the Plant Environmental Physiology Group (PEPG) Special Interest Group
  • Our conference and event venues
  • Visit Belfast (for the delivery of our 2023 Annual Meeting)
  • Tourism NI (for the delivery of our 2023 Annual Meeting)
  • Belfast City Council (for the delivery of our 2023 Annual Meeting)
  • Warwick Corporate Events (for exhibition stand build and services for our 2023 Annual Meeting)
  • Hotels used for designated attendees of our events e.g. keynote speakers or co-organisers – please note these will change every year
  • The Access Group Ltd (ThankQ) and BlueLight CRM (our membership management systems)
  • Zenzero (our IT service provider)
  • Brightminded (our web developers)
  • H2 Associates Ltd (our print house for The Niche)
  • The First Mailing Co Ltd (our distribution house for The Niche)
  • Made Noise (design for The Niche)
  • Civica Election Services (CES), the providers of online voting for our Annual General Meeting
  • Mailchimp and SurveyMonkey (our communication tools)
  • Twitter/X (social media platform)
  • Instagram (social media platform)
  • Facebook (social media platform)
  • LinkedIn (social media platform)
  • Wiley (our journal publisher)
  • JSTOR (our journal publisher pre-1998)
  • Go Cardless, Stripe and Paypal (payment portals)
  • Just Giving (charitable donations)
  • PLD Mentoring (mentoring platform)
  • Field Studies Council (field centres for residential programmes)
  • Zenlo (our abstract management system)
  • Our Programming Working Group, who administer the abstracts for events
  • BES Events Committee (made up of volunteer members) – for SIG event application, thematic and workshop applications related to our Annual Meeting and Symposia
  • Eventbrite
  • Any organiser who is delivering a workshop or event on our behalf (who will be named at sign-up), for example our Special Interest Groups, or providers of training and workshops
  • Whova (our conference app provider)
  • Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) (providers of archiving and indexing services for material on Applied Ecology Resources)
  • WordPress (our website content management system)
  • Google Analytics 4
  • Google Forms
  • Zoom (our online meeting and webinar platform)

How secure is my information with third-party service providers?

All our third-party service providers and other entities are required to take appropriate security measures to protect your personal information in line with our policies. We do not allow our third-party service providers to use your personal data for their own purposes. We only permit them to process your personal data for specified purposes and in accordance with our instructions.

Data security

We have put in place appropriate security measures to prevent your personal information from being accidentally lost, used or accessed in an unauthorised way, altered or disclosed. In addition, we limit access to your personal information to those employees, agents, contractors and other third parties who have a business need to know. They will only process your personal information on our instructions, and they are subject to a duty of confidentiality. Details of these measures may be obtained from the BES Data Protection Lead:

We have put in place procedures to deal with any suspected data security breach and will notify you and any applicable regulator of a suspected breach where we are legally required to do so.

Data retention

How long will you use my information for?

We will only retain your personal information for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes we collected it for, including for the purposes of satisfying any legal, accounting or reporting requirements. Details of retention periods for different aspects of your personal information are available in our retention schedule which is available from the BES Data Protection Lead:

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.

In some circumstances we may anonymise your personal information so that it can no longer be associated with you, in which case we may use such information without further notice to you. Once you are no longer a member we will retain and securely destroy your personal information in accordance with our data retention schedule or other applicable laws and regulations. In most cases this will be for six years after your membership expired.

Rights of access, correction, erasure and restriction 

Inform us of changes

It is important that the personal information we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal information changes during your working relationship with us.

Your rights in connection with personal information

Under certain circumstances, by law you have the right to:

  • Request access to your personal information (commonly known as a ‘data subject access request’). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal information we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it
  • Request correction of the personal information that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate information we hold about you corrected
  • Request erasure of your personal information. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal information where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal information where you have exercised your right to object to processing (see below)
  • Object to processing of your personal information 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 this ground. You also have the right to object where we are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes
  • Request the restriction of processing of your personal information. This enables you to ask us to suspend the processing of personal information about you, for example if you want us to establish its accuracy or the reason for processing it
  • Request the transfer of your personal information to another party
  • If you want to review, verify, correct or request erasure of your personal information, object to the processing of your personal data or request that we transfer a copy of your personal information to another party, please contact the BES Data Protection Lead in writing:

You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal information (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request for access is clearly unfounded or excessive. Alternatively, we may refuse to comply with the request in such circumstances.

What we may need from you

We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access the information (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is another appropriate security measure to ensure that personal information is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it.

Right to withdraw consent 

In the limited circumstances where you may have provided your consent to the collection, processing and transfer of your personal information for a specific purpose, you have the right to withdraw your consent for that specific processing at any time. To withdraw your consent, please contact the BES Data Protection Lead:

Once we have received notification that you have withdrawn your consent, we will no longer process your information for the purpose or purposes you originally agreed to, unless we have another legitimate basis for doing so in law.

If you have any questions about this privacy notice or how we handle your personal information, please contact the BES Data Protection Lead:

You have the right to make a complaint at any time to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK supervisory authority for data protection issues.

Changes to this Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to update this privacy policy at any time, and we will provide you with a new privacy policy when we make any substantial updates. We may also notify you in other ways from time to time about the processing of your personal information.

This notice was last updated on 25 August 2023