Information sharing

Information sharing

Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

Information sharing to promote safety & welfare of children

A key factor identified in many serious case reviews has been a failure by practitioners to record information, to share it, to understand its significance and then take appropriate action.

About this government advice
The current government guidance on information sharing can be accessed by clicking here. This advice is non-statutory and has been produced to support practitioners in the decisions they make when sharing information to reduce the risk of harm to children and young people.

This guidance does not deal in detail with arrangements for bulk or pre-agreed sharing of personal information between IT systems or organisations, other than to explain their role in effective information governance.

Who is this advice for?
This advice is for all frontline practitioners and senior managers working with children, young people, parents and carers who have to make decisions about sharing personal information on a case-by-case basis. It may also be helpful for practitioners working with adults who are responsible for children who may be in need.

The seven golden rules to sharing information

  • Remember that the Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  • Be open and honest from the outset about why, what, how and with who information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Consider safety and wellbeing: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  • Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: Ensure 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 (see principles).
  • 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 and for what purpose.
Information sharing - related pages