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.
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.
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?