Information Sharing

All professionals who work with children and young people, or with adults who are parents or carers, should know how and when to share information with other professionals in order to keep children safe.

On this page you can find:

  • Seven Golden Rules to sharing information
  • Local information sharing resources: local protocols and national guidance
  • Some points to remember about information sharing
  • Sharing information where there are concerns about significant harm

Seven Golden Rules to sharing information

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 well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.

6. Necessary, proportionate, 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 (see principles).

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 and for what purpose.

The Department for Education has published advice for safeguarding professionals on information sharing. The advice explains relevant legislation and includes key principles and practicalities of sharing personal information. This advice replaces ‘Information sharing: guidance for practitioners and managers’ (2008).

For more information, see the cross-government advice. Information Sharing: Guidance for practitioners and managers (2015).

Information sharing resources

In the majority of child protection tragedies, ineffective or lack of information sharing is a key factor. Here are resources for all practitioners who come into contact with children, young people and their families in Wandsworth:

Local information sharing protocols for specific purposes

Department of Education guidance

Some points to remember about information sharing 

  • Never assume that other professionals are taking the action you would expect - check with them directly. 
  • Check your terminology - as professionals, we all use our own jargon and 'short-hand' - this makes things easier between ourselves, but can confuse people who are not familiar with our language. Make sure that you are clear, especially when working with professionals in other disciplines.
  • Get feedback - find out what action another professional will take as a result of the information you have given them, and verify that it has taken place.

Some enablers and barriers are identified below:

Enablers

  • Willingness to share where there is a close working relationship
  • Legislation is generally supportive of sharing
  • IT systems can facilitate safe transfer of information
  • Guidance
  • Information sharing/reporting capability
  • Information sharing agreements and confidence to share relevant data
  • Common understanding
  • Focus on prevention

Barriers

  • Fear of repercussions for wrongly sharing
  • Lack of confidence to share
  • Lack of knowledge of legislative obligations
  • Lack of interoperability between different IT systems
  • No agreement about what can and cannot be shared, issue of implied or informal consent
  • Lack of trust
  • Legal basis to share is different for different organisations

(Source: Centre for Information Sharing - Braunstone Blues Information Sharing Project - you can download the full report here: Braunstone Blues information sharing report

Sharing information where there are concerns about significant harm

Professionals working with children, parents or adults in contact with children, should always share information with children's social care where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm. Sharing information under these circumstances is legitimate and in the public interest.


Information on Information Sharing

Contact Wandsworth Safeguarding Children Board

020 8871 7401
wscb@wandsworth.gov.uk