Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. A key factor identified in many serious case reviews (SCRs) has been a failure by practitioners to record information, to share it, to understand its significance and then take appropriate action.

The seven golden rules to sharing information are:

  1. REMEMBER that the Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  2. BE open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  3. SEEK advice from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  4. SHARE with informed consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information.   You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is good reason to do so, such as where safety may be at risk.  You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case.  When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be certain of the basis upon which you are doing so.  Where you have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
  5. CONSIDER safety and well-being:  Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  6. NECESSARY, PROPORATIONATE, RELEVANT, ADEQUATE, ACCURATE, TIMELY AND SECURE: Ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up to date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
  7. KEEP a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not.  If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom, when and for what purpose.

Further information and guidance is set out in the HM Government Information Sharing Guidance.

The introduction of the UK Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 has brought issues of consent and information sharing into sharp focus, potentially leading to concerns that the new rules will make it even harder to keep children safe.  The PSCP has issued general guidance here.