Magazines, churches and salons - the groups that have bought Havering residents’ data

An antifascist magazine, a church, a salon and credit reference agencies – just some of the organisations who have bought a copy of the electoral register from Havering Council in recent years.

The register lists the names and addresses of residents in different constituencies or electoral wards.

A breakdown of the companies who bought copies from 2009-11 was revealed at a recent council meeting.

Credit reference agencies, including Equifax, Experian, Call Credit and Crediva, were the biggest purchasers of the information.

But there were some more surprising buyers too: in 2009, Searchlight Magazine, The Hair Xchange in Hornchurch, and the Church of the English Martyrs also bought copies.

In 2010 a driving school named in the answer as “JBSM” also bought one.

Callcredit explained that it uses data – including from the electoral roll – to confirm peoples’ identities and combat identity fraud.

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Neil Munroe, external affairs director at Equifax, said: “A lot of people, particularly the younger generations such as students, aren’t aware that not being on the electoral roll at their current address can affect their credit score.

“Even when applying for something as simple as new car insurance paid on instalments, you may not be accepted simply because you are not on the electoral register and the company cannot verify your identity.”

A spokesman for Searchlight said that they bought the roll when part of the Hope not Hate Campaign, in order to distribute anti-BNP leaflets.

Gisele Faltrick, from the Hair Xchange, Butts Green Road, said: “I bought it for marketing reasons, to send out personalised letters, but just after I did the cost of postage went up so it didn’t really seem worth using anymore.”

Cllr Michael White, Leader of the Council, said: “The sale of a local authority’s Electoral Register is a requirement and is strictly controlled by statutory regulations.”

Havering Council has no control over who it sells copies of the register to.

The Church of the English Martyrs have not yet responded to the Recorder’s enquiries.