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1.3 Sharing information

Sharing information between professionals and local agencies is essential to provide effective early help and to put in place child protection services. Often it is only when information is shared that it becomes clear a child may be at risk of significant harm. Indeed, Serious Case Reviews have shown that poor information sharing has contributed to deaths or serious injuries of children.

Consent to share information should always be sought unless doing so is likely to place the child at risk of significant harm through delay, or the parent's actions or reactions, or lead to the loss of evidential material. Information may be shared without consent if it is to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children.

All professionals should ensure that they understand the guidance on information sharing in Part 2 of these procedures.

It is also worth reading the government guidance on information sharing: Information sharing: advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (March 2015).   

This outlines the 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.
  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.

No professional should assume that someone else will pass on information which they think may be critical to keeping a child safe. If a professional has concerns about a child’s welfare and believes they are suffering, or likely to suffer, harm, they should share the information with children’s social care in the relevant local authority.

Also see the information sharing confidentiality protocol.

Disclosure of information in cases of alleged child abuse and linked criminal and care directions hearings

The 2013 Protocol and Good Practice Model: disclosure of information in cases of alleged child abuse and care directions hearings (‘2013 Protocol’) was published on 17 October 2013 and came into force on 1 January 2014.

The 2013 Protocol deals with all aspects of information exchange from the outset of a police investigation and from the stage when Family Court proceedings are contemplated by a local authority. The new 2013 Protocol deals with disclosure from the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to the local authority and into the Family Justice System, in addition to disclosure from the local authority to the police and the CPS.

The 2013 Protocol requires local agencies to agree and adopt a local protocol to give effect to the 2013 Protocol. Access the West Midlands Protocol.

This page is correct as printed on Friday 20th of October 2017 12:20:46 AM please refer back to this website (http://westmidlands.procedures.org.uk) for updates.
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