Principles of information sharing when there is a child protection concern. It makes clear the exceptions when practitioners should not discuss referrals with families, and provides a checklist to be used when making decisions about information sharing.
- Protecting children and making sure they are safe must always come first when making decisions about information sharing.
- All families have a right to privacy and that right should be respected unless there is a reason to think that a child is being significantly harmed or is at risk of being significantly harmed. Practitioners should discuss their concerns with families and ask for their permission before making a referral to children's social care. Talking to families and asking their permission is important. It means they will understand concerns and it can help practitioners learn the best way of working in partnership with them. Their response will be part of the assessment of the risks.
- You should not discuss concerns with a family, or ask for their permission to make a referral if:
- a child might be put at greater risk of harm;
- an adult might be put at risk of serious harm;
- preventing or investigating a serious crime might be affected; or
- contacting the family might cause a delay in ensuring a child is protected.
- If families refuse to consent to a referral, and practitioners are still concerned that a child is at risk of significant harm they must tell the family they will need to make the referral without their consent.
- If you need to share information the following questions should always be used as a checklist:
- Do you need advice from your line manager before you can be confident about making the decision?
- Do you have a good reason to share the information? Will sharing it be part of ensuring a child is kept safe from harm and receives the best possible service?
- Is the information confidential? If a family has shared something with you in confidence you will need to be clear that you are going to share it with other professionals and that you would like their permission to do so.
- Can the information be shared in a way that protects the anonymity of the people involved? Anonomised information is not covered by the Data Protection Act and can be lawfully shared. It is still good practice to ensure there is a good reason to share it.
- Do you have enough concern about the child's safety and the need to make sure they are protected to justify sharing the information without consent?
- Has a court asked you to share the information? If you feel the information should not be shared you must get legal advice.
- Is the information: relevant, accurate and up to date, only shared with people who need to know and going to be kept confidential and stored in a safe place?
- Have you made a record of your decision to share information? It should explain why the decision was made, what the information was and the agencies and people the information was shared with.
- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities