Quick Exit

Information sharing

Why does Information sharing matter? 

Information sharingInformation sharing is essential for effective safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. It is a key factor identified in many Safeguarding Practice Reviews (SCRs) and local audits, where poor information sharing has resulted in missed opportunities to take action that keeps children and young people safe.

Sharing information is an intrinsic part of any frontline practitioners’ job when working with children and young people. Information sharing helps to ensure that an individual receives the right services at the right time and prevents a need from becoming more acute and difficult to meet.

Fears about sharing information cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children at risk of abuse or neglect. Every practitioner must take responsibility for sharing the information they hold and cannot assume that someone else will pass on information, which may be critical to keeping a child safe. 

What is the legal basis for Information Sharing? +

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations, agencies and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 introduces new elements to the data protection regime, superseding the Data Protection Act 1998. Practitioners must have due regard to the relevant data protection principles which allow them to share personal information, it is important that accountability is defined to ensure that teams know who is responsible for making decisions and that actions taken are in the best interest of the child.

The GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 place duties on organisations and individuals to process personal information fairly and lawfully placing a greater significance on organisations being transparent and accountable in their use of data. All organisations handling personal data need to have comprehensive and proportionate arrangements for collecting, storing and sharing information securely ensuring it is only disclosed in appropriate circumstances and that it’s accurate, relevant and not held longer than necessary. 

What are the principles of Information Sharing? +

  • Necessary and Proportionate -When taking decisions about what information to share, you should consider how much information you need to release. Not sharing more data than is necessary to be of use is a key element of the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 and you should consider the impact of disclosing information on the information subject and any third parties. Information must be proportionate to the need and level of risk.
  • Relevant - Only information that is relevant to the purposes should be shared with those who need it. This allows others to do their job effectively and make informed decisions.
  • Adequate - Information should be adequate for its purpose. Information should be of the right quality to ensure that it can be understood and relied upon.
  • Accurate - Information should be accurate and up to date and should clearly distinguish between fact and opinion. If the information is historical then this should be explained.
  • Timely - Information should be shared in a timely fashion to reduce the risk of missed opportunities to offer support and protection to a child. Timeliness is key in emergency situations and it may not be appropriate to seek consent for information sharing if it could cause delays and therefore place a child or young person at increased risk of harm. Practitioners should ensure that sufficient information is shared, as well as consider the urgency with which to share it.
  • Secure - Wherever possible, information should be shared in an appropriate, secure way. Practitioners must always follow their organisation’s policy on security for handling personal information.
  • Record - Information sharing decisions should be recorded, whether or not the decision is taken to share. If the decision is to share, reasons should be cited including what information has been shared and with whom, in line with organisational procedures. If the decision is not to share, it is good practice to record the reasons for this decision and discuss them with the requester. In line with each organisation’s own retention policy, the information should not be kept any longer than is necessary. In some rare circumstances, this may be indefinitely, but if this is the case, there should be a review process scheduled at regular intervals to ensure data is not retained where it is unnecessary to do so. 

When should I share? +

Consider the following questions to help decide if and when to share: 

  • Is there a clear legitimate purpose?
  • Do you have consent?
  • Does information enable individual to be identified?
  • Is there a lawful reason to share without consent? 

What are the 7 golden rules to information sharing? +

  1. The General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing 
  1. Be open and honest 
  1. Seek advice 
  1. When possible, seek consent. 
  1. Consider safety and wellbeing 
  1. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure 
  1. Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it. 

Where can I get further Information? +