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Information Sharing and Confidentiality

Safeguarding children from harm and abuse often requires information sharing between services and organisations.  Sharing information enables professionals to fully understand and assess the risks and make informed decisions about what action needs to be taken.  Not sharing information in such circumstances can leave a child at risk of abuse and/or harm.  

 

Human Rights Act 1998

Articles 2 and 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 place an obligation on public authorities to protect people's rights to life and their freedom from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.  Meeting these obligations may necessitate lawful information sharing.

The Data Protection Act 2018

The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK's implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Everyone responsible for using personal data has to follow strict rules called 'data protection principles'.  They must make sure the information is:

  • used fairly, lawfully and transparently
  • used for specified, explicit purposes
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary
  • accurate and , where necessary, kept up to date
  • kept for no longer than is necessary
  • handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction or damage

There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information such as race, ethnic background, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, genetics, biometrics, health, sex life or orientation.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This was designed to respond to technological and societal changes over the last 20 years.  It is designed to strengthen the protection of personal information and extend the rights and controls individuals have over their data.  

1. GDPR is not a barrier

Remember that data protection and regulation law is not intended as a barrier to info sharing – it helps us to share the right information, in the right way, for the right reasons. Never put management or organisation interests before the safety of others. The principle of confidentiality is not absolute, especially when it is to safeguard adults or children.

2. Be open and honest

Right from the start, be clear with the people we support what information we hold, why we might share it, and who might need to know. Try and get informed consent from the beginning where possible.

3. Seek advice

If in doubt, ask! Have confidence in checking with others. Talk to your safeguarding lead, or line manager. You do not have to disclose personal or identifying information to get someone else’s view, even if you talk to the police or the local authority.

4. Share with consent wherever possible

Respect the wish of those who do not consent. However, you may still decide to share the information without consent, where you can evidence that the need is:

  • in the public interest (e.g. children or other adults are at risk, staff are implicated)
  • the person, or someone else, is at very serious risk of harm
  • a serious crime has been committed
  • you suspect coercion or duress is involved in their decision
  • the person lacks the mental capacity to make the decision
5. Always consider the safety and well-being

What is the risk of not sharing the information? What will be the impact of sharing / not sharing – on the person, on anyone else involved.

6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure.

Check these key words. Is it the right information for the purpose? Is it being shared in the right format, with the right people? Is it accurate and up to date? Are you sharing promptly enough for the purpose intended? Think “need-to-know”.

7. Keep a record

Be clear what you have shared or chosen not to share. Why have you shared the information? Evidence how you came to that decision, and who you shared what with.

Reporting Concerns

All enquiries concerning the welfare or safety of a child or requests for information must be sent to the Bridge Partnership.   

The Bridge Partnership can be contacted on 0161 603 4500. All referrals and requests for support must be completed on the online referral form. The Bridge Partnership is available Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm.  If you need to speak to someone outside these times, please contact the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0161 794 8888. If a child is in immediate danger of being harmed or is home alone, call the police on 999.  

For any problems related to the portal contact worriedaboutachild@salford.gov.uk 

If you are worried about an adult - Report abuse or neglect by telephone on 0161 631 4777 and for further information visit https://www.salford.gov.uk/adult-safeguarding  

If there are concerns that a child or adult may be at risk of serious or significant harm, then follow the relevant procedures without delay. Seek advice if you are not sure what to do at any stage and ensure that the outcome of the discussion is recorded.

Adapted from HM Government Information Sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers.

Outline description of flowchart
Title: Flowchart of key questions for information sharing
  1. Top of chart begins with: You are asked to or wish to share information
  2. Is there a clear and legitimate purpose for sharing information?
  • If no, do not share and record the information sharing decision and your reasons, in line with your agency’s or local procedures.
  • If not sure, seek advice
  • If yes, move to the next step
  1. Do you have consent to share?
  • If yes you can share the information:
    • Identify how much information to share.
    • Distinguish fact from opinion.
    • Ensure that you are giving the right information to the right person.
    • Ensure you are sharing the information securely.
    • Inform the person that the information has been shared if they were not aware of this and it would not create or increase risk of harm.
    • Then record the information sharing decision and your reasons, in line with your agency’s or local procedures.
  • If not sure, seek advice
  • If no, move to the next step
  1. Does the information enable an individual to be identified?
  • If no, you can share the information:
    • Identify how much information to share.
    • Distinguish fact from opinion.
    • Ensure that you are giving the right information to the right person.
    • Ensure you are sharing the information securely.
    • Inform the person that the information has been shared if they were not aware of this and it would not create or increase risk of harm.
    • Then record the information sharing decision and your reasons, in line with your agency’s or local procedures.
  • If not sure, seek advice
  • If yes move to the next step
  1. Have you identified a lawful reason to share information without consent?
  • If yes you can share information:
    • Identify how much information to share.
    • Distinguish fact from opinion.
    • Ensure that you are giving the right information to the right person.
    • Ensure you are sharing the information securely.
    • Inform the person that the information has been shared if they were not aware of this and it would not create or increase risk of harm.
    • Then record the information sharing decision and your reasons, in line with your agency’s or local procedures.
  • If not sure, seek advice
  • If no, do not share and record the information sharing decision and your reasons, in line with your agency’s or local procedures.

 

It is essential the properly trained interpreters are available throughout these processes where required.  This includes British Sign Language signing and other sensory interpretation support as well as interpretation where English is not the adults first language.

Documents used throughout the process will also need to be made available in other formats, languages or other support offered.

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